This recipe, by award-winning chef and cookery writer Valentina Harris, is taken from the Real Food Cookbook by the Real Food Festival (which showcases the very best produce that has been sustainably- and ethically-produced in the UK). This book is a collection of more than 100 recipes from the brilliant chefs who have taken part at the Festival, including Raymond Blanc, Giorgio Locatelli, Thomasina Miers, Willie Harcourt-Cooze and Cyrus Todiwala, as well as recipes from some of the wonderful artisan producers from the show.
The festival was on this weekend (5–8 May) this year. Sadly I missed it because I was in Barcelona (more of that later…) but it sounds as if it was a huge success again. (It’s a great experience, as well as a fantastic way to discover new producers and products. When I went last year, I came across some lovely gluten-free goodies, for example.) Held at Earls Court, it showcases 500 of the finest artisan food producers plus the Real Food Chef Theatre, with chefs including Giorgio Locatelli, Jason Atherton, Valentine Warner and Silvena Rowe, and the Real Food Cookery School where both children and adults can learn kitchen skills, such as butchery and artisan food workshops. On top of that, there’s the Taste Experience Tent and special talks, demos and tastings. I’m very sad to have missed it this year – but at least there’s the cookbook!
This is a lovely spicy recipe with sweet notes, that’s incredibly easy to make. You can experiment with this basic method, adding more spices or varying the vegetables. This recipe also works well with chicken or fish.
Serves 4 Preparation time 10 minutes, plus soaking the apricots Cooking time 1 hour 40 minutes
- 55g/2oz/ 1/3 cup dried apricots, halved
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 500g/llb 2oz diced leg of lamb
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 200g/7oz canned tomatoes
- 300ml/10½fl oz/1¼ cup gluten-free and dairy-free lamb stock
- a small pinch of saffron threads
- 2 tbsp ground almonds
- 2 large courgettes, cut into large pieces
- 200g/7oz butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled and diced
- 2 tomatoes, skinned and quartered
- 1 tsp harissa
- 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Put the apricots in a small bowl and just cover them with boiling water. Leave to soak for an hour. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
- Heat the olive oil in a flameproof casserole and brown the lamb in batches all over, then lift out with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add the chopped onion to the casserole and cook gently for 10 minutes until soft and golden. Add the garlic and spices and cook them for a further 2 minutes, then return the lamb to the casserole.
- Add the apricots and their soaking liquid, the canned tomatoes and the stock. Stir in the saffron and ground almonds and season with sea salt.
- Heat to simmering point, then cover the casserole and cook in the oven for 1 hour. Add the courgettes, squash, tomatoes and harissa, with a little extra water if necessary. Put the lid back on and return the casserole to the oven for a further 30 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper, adding extra harissa if desired, then scatter over the parsley and serve.