I mean, the greatest influence on our cuisine was probably when the French conquered us and we took on their cooking for the best part of a couple of hundred years at least. We developed on that, and then Protestantism came along in the seventeen-hundreds and wiped that all away as decadent and ungodly. This theme lasted with us, helped on by the austerities of the two world-wars, until probably the recent reassurance of celebrity chefs and proliferation of trendy places to eat out which started in full as late even as the end of the 1980’s. Before that it was Angus Steakhouse, TGI Fridays, or Garfunkels if you were lucky..
If you want to read more on this subject, having read a number of histories of British Food I particularly like this one by Colin Spencer.
Back on to the recipe I confess I made it up. I was reading an interview with Simon Rogan, the chef of one of the winners of the top places eat in the UK right now; L’enclume. Admittedly, they have a 6 Acre farm attached to their restaurant, but when asked what influences his cooking, he said simply that he looks at what’s good in the garden and cooks with that. That’s how it should be. I don’t have a small farm, but I try to cook with what I see looks good in season on my visits to London Farmers Markets at the weekends.
This recipe is homage to that principle and also the wonder that is a slow cooker that can turn any simple ingredients into dishes with incredible depth of flavour due to long and slow simmering for 6-8 hours. This method really dominates my cooking from the autumn to the spring. I can’t recommend enough that you get one. Serve this on it’s own with a good bread or over pasta or rice.
1 cup green/brown lentils (preferably soaked for at leads 4 hours)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 sticks celery
1 large carrot
1/2 small pumpkin
2 medium beetroots
2 cups stock or water
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut the pumpkin into large chunks, and toss with salt and pepper and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Place on a large baking tray and roast for 30 minutes until soft.
- Wrap the beetroot in foil and place in the oven for an hour. Take out. let cool, peel and cut into large chunks.
- Whilst your root vegetables are roasting, cut the celery and carrot into large dice, and, heating 2 more tablespoons of the olive oil sauté for 10 minutes in a small frying pan until soft. Empty the
- Empty the contents of the frying pan int the pressure cooker. Rinse and drain the lentils and add them too along with the rest of the ingredients, plus, when they are done the roasted vegetables.
- Cook on high for 6-8 hours, checking periodically if you can, to add more liquid if the stew is drying out. Slow cookers vary in cooking times I have noticed.