Notes on Quarantine Cooking
Recipe #1 ~ Beans in Smoky Red Pepper and Tomato Sauce
During our first online meeting for The Courtauldian, we discussed what topics we should focus on during this unstable and unusual time. When somebody suggested creating content about recipes and cooking, I immediately volunteered to write something on this subject. I love to cook. There are only a few things in the world that can instantly make me happier and eating good food is definitely among these. The opposite goes for eating bad food; I consider eating an unappetizing meal as one of the worst things that can happen in a day. Where does my passion for food come from? How does my attitude towards cooking vary so much from my sister’s, even though we come from the same household? These are probably questions that will remain unanswered, but they have inspired me to share some of my notes on cooking, as well as an uncomplicated recipe for you to try out.
The best dish you can serve is the one you have cooked over and over again. You know that thing that never fails? The thing that you are able to prepare almost with your eyes closed? This is what you should cook when you have someone to impress, be it your friends, partner or visiting parents. Even if you feel like it’s the most ordinary dish in the world, trust me, they will be in awe.
Being forced to stay at home now might be the time when you finally decide to master the skills of this dish or make elaborate recipes you never had the time for. Now, when your daily commute has been limited to walking from room to room you might have the time to have proper breakfast, lunch or dinner or maybe even all three! Or maybe instead, you could follow my recipe, which is not elaborate at all, is easy to change around and uses cupboard staples, so it is perfect for a time when fresh produce feels like a luxury.
Beans in Smoky Red Pepper and Tomato Sauce
Some notes to highlight before you start:
I had Ramiro peppers; red bell peppers will work better in this recipe but being stuck in quarantine does not give you as much of a choice when it comes to ingredients.
I used white beans but again, you can use whatever beans you have in the house (chickpeas too).
This recipe is perfect for being stuck at home as you can alter it very easily by adding other vegetables, spices, and even eating it with rice or pasta. Be creative with it!
3 red bell peppers
4 cloves of garlic (or according to taste)
1 can of tinned tomatoes (I recommend the whole ones, they always taste best!)
1 can of white beans
Basil (and other herbs and spices you can find in your cupboard)
1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
2. Cut your peppers in half and remove the seeds. Place them on a baking tray with the skin facing up. Put them in the oven for around 20-30 mins; you want the skin to be charred, as the longer they stay in the oven the smokier they will be. When you take them out of the oven, let the peppers cool down a bit, then remove the skin and put aside.
3. Heat up olive oil in a pan and sauté your onion on small heat. When the onion has become translucent, add garlic, stir for a few moments and then add the tomatoes and peppers. Refill half of the can of tomatoes with water and add to the sauce. Season the sauce to taste. Now turn up the heat, letting it simmer for around 10 mins until the water starts to reduce. When the consistency is still a bit watery, add the drained beans. Leave on the stove until you are satisfied with the consistency of the sauce.
Eat with whatever you already have in your kitchen, in my case it was brown rice with roasted broccoli and courgettes.
Other ideas to spice up the recipe:
Use it as a pasta sauce and top it with parmesan
During cooking, add spices such as cumin and coriander, or curry powder and make it a base of shakshuka, adding eggs at the end. Serve with fresh bread.
Eat with any grain (couscous, pearl barley, bulgur) for an easy lunch or breakfast, or with anything else that you might be craving.
Take this time to explore your culinary taste and experiment with different alterations for this recipe and other ones, of course. In the end, who am I to judge?