Student Suppers: Strapatsada with Basil & Toasted Pine Nuts
Like many of you, on Monday I went back to work. It was pouring with rain outside, miserable and wet. I had all the paperwork that I had not got to over Christmas in my in-tray to deal with, and the internet chose the worst possible moment to pay havoc with our office system. I’d said I was cooking my own supper that night before I left the house in the morning, so if I wanted to eat something when I got home, I’d have no choice but to cook it myself. Enter Strapatsada, a Greek dish from the ‘Quick & Calm’ chapter of Nigella Lawson’s brilliant new cookbook Simply Nigella which only took about 20 minutes to throw together from ingredients to table.
So, if you still don’t know what you’re having for dinner tonight (or for breakfast tomorrow or for lunch the day after, for that matter) you probably have all the ingredients for a delicious pan of Strapatsada (which you can make for one or two of you) already that you can pile on toast, or scoop up straight out of the pan if you’re in a particular washing up dodging mood. The book’s version is topped off with Xynotyro or any other strong and crumbly cheese, but on account of the whole I don’t eat cows cheese thing, toasted pine nuts add a nice bit of texture, bite and creamiest. (I tried torn mozzarella, but it made the whole thing a bit too watery).
Usually it takes either an irresistible combination of ingredients, or an interesting technique for me to bookmark a recipe from a cookbook to cook. In this recipe, it was the idea of stirring a raw egg into the tomato sauce, as if you were scrambling it that caught my eye. It seems unusual, but it is a great, dairy free way to get a lovely thick and creamy sauce, packed with protein for a nice a filling meal. It’s a Greek thing, I’ve had a recipe for a Greek Lemon Soup, which is also made thick and creamy by whisking in raw eggs. Below, these measurements make a small pan full for one person, but you can double it to serve two of you, or if you’re super hungry.
- 4-5 Small Ripe Tomatoes or 4 Handfuls Cherry Tomatoes
- 1 1/2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1/2 tbsp Tomato Puree
- Pinch Sea Salt
- Pinch Golden Caster Sugar
- 1 Large Egg
- Small Handful Fresh Basil
- Small Handful Pine Nuts
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Toasted Bread, to serve
Set a small frying pan over a high heat. Add the pine nuts to the pan and toast for a minute or two, tossing regularly to stop them from burning. Set the toasted nuts aside, and return the pan to the heat, turning it down to medium. Add the oil, and roughly chop the tomatoes (or quarter the cherry tomatoes) and add them to the oil. Cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. Stir in the tomato puree, sea salt and the sugar. Cook for a few minutes more until a good sauce has formed. Crack the egg into the pan and cook as if you were scrambling them into the sauce. Cook until the sauce has thickened to however thick you’d like it. Remove from the heat, and serve with the basil torn over, sprinkled with pine nuts and finished with a good few grinds of black pepper.
I know for most people that New Year cooking means everything green, healthy, sugar, fat and carbohydrate free, but for me while I do like to lighten things up a bit, what I’m really after is something fresh, easy and comforting. I promise you that a big, nourishing pan of this will set you to rights at the end of a long, rainy Winters day.