TIt’s definitely a “cook” recipe, not a chef’s recipe, and it’s one of my favorite things to eat. My late grandmother Lucia used to make it – with wonderful locally grown potatoes, zucchini and tomatoes – and so did my mom.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 3 medium sized potatoes
- 50g plain flour
- 4 tablespoons rapeseed oil (or any vegetable oil), plus extra if needed
- 2-3 medium zucchini (or one marrow), cut into 1cm slices
- 3 leeks or onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 800g canned ripe tomatoes, peeled and grated (or 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes)
- 2-4 tablespoons full-fat fresh cream
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely grated
- Fresh dill to serve
- Bread and butter for serving (optional)
- Mom peels potatoes, but I don’t bother. Cut them into thin circles or semicircles if they are too large. Season the flour with salt and pepper in a bowl. Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet or deep skillet over medium heat, and sprinkle the potato slices in the seasoned flour.
- Fry the potatoes in the hot oil in batches until brown on at least one side. You want to get some color on it here and there but it doesn’t have to be fully cooked through. Add more oil if the pan becomes dry. Transfer the fried potatoes to a plate and set aside.
- Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any potatoes or flour stuck to it, add more oil if needed, and fry the zucchini in batches until they turn brown here and there. Put the potatoes on the plate.
- Add more oil again, if needed, and stir in the shallots (or onions). Cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, adding a little water now and then to remove the shallots from the shallots and scrape them to the bottom of the pan. You want them to soften and color well—we’re not making French onion soup here, so no need for deep caramelization. Then add the tomato puree and leave for two minutes.
- Add fresh or canned tomatoes and stir all. Then add the fresh cream and mix again. The sauce will be pink and dusty and smell delicious.
- Add potatoes and zucchini to the sauce in layers if you can. Simmer, covered halfway, over low heat, 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are completely softened.
- Add garlic to the saucepan, gently stirring it into the sauce for five minutes of cooking.
- You can certainly eat this dish hot with lots of dill on top, but it’s very tasty when eaten just warm or at room temperature with a big piece of crusty bread.
Elea Hercules is the author of Mamushka, Kaukasis: The Cookbook and Summer Kitchens; This recipe is from The Female Chef by Clare Finney (£28, Hoxton Mini Press)