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Recipe: Summer vegetable stew

Autumn is quietly beginning to knock. The wasps have grown fat and exhausted trying to harvest the fruit of my dad’s plum tree, but they’ve barely made a dent.

Dad is eager to offload the plums on random passersby, as he reckons it’s a matter of weeks, if not days, before this year’s unusually generous crop shrivels. Next stop: blackberries.

He’s still searching for the perfect plum jam recipe, and I’m expecting that the next time I call for dinner there’ll be dishes featuring plums for starters, mains, and dessert. If any readers can share recipes featuring plums, they’d be gratefully received.

Still making the most of summer’s dying days, this is a very simple vegetarian recipe that any old eejit could throw together, slightly adapted from Denis Cotter’s very excellent Paradiso Seasons. It’s full of fresh vegetables, but it’s still much cheaper than a load of meat, particularly if you get the veggies in Aldi/ Lidl/ greengrocers. Yes, oil is the base of this dish, but it’s doesn’t taste particularly oily or heavy.

Summer Vegetable Stew


  • Around 6 red and/ or yellow peppers, chopped into thick diagonal slices
  • Around 20 waxy, baby new potatoes
  • 1 large red onion, chopped into thin slices
  • 1 red chilli, chopped into thin slices
  • 10 garlic cloves, sliced thickly
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, thickly chopped
  • A generous squeeze of tomato puree
  • Two handfuls of sugar snap peas
  • Around 12 black or Kalamata olives
  • A big bunch of basil leaves
  • About 90mls olive oil
  • A little basil oil or a squeeze of basil puree


  • Start cooking the onions in the oil.
  • Add the peppers, garlic, and chilli, and toss well.
  • Add the olives.
  • Bring to a high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 25 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cut the potatoes in half or, if they’re bigger, 15-20mm slices. Steam or boil until tender.
  • Add to the stew for the last few minutes and mix well.
  • Throw in the sugar snaps a minute or so before serving, just to warm them through – they should still be crunchy.
  • Add the basil leaves, season, and serve with a warm crusty bread, such as ciabatta.

I served the bread with an impromptu black olive tapanede, mixing around 10 stoned olives with a grating of parmesan, a glug of olive oil, about 5-7 pistachio nuts, and a small handful of basil, and smearing it over warm ciabatta. Denis Cotter suggests a goats cheese and pesto topping.


  1. If you can get your hands on the Style section of the Sunday Times from the 21st, there are loads of plum recipes in it including main courses.

  2. Brilliant! Thanks Claire 🙂

  3. Plum tart:

    For the pastry:
    1 egg
    200g butter
    400g plain flour
    150g caster sugar
    vanilla extract

    For the fruits:
    900g plums
    100g catser sugar

    Melt the butter on low heat. Add the sugar, half the flour and the egg. Add a few drops of vanilla. Mix well and add the rest of the flour, mix with your fingertips so it looks like breadcrumbs
    In an oiled tin, pour more than half of the mix and press it to the bottom and up the sides. Ensure that there is no gap.
    Wash and dry the plums, cut them in half and stone them. Put them on the pastry case, cut side down. Sprinkle with the remaining 100g sugar, then crumble the rest of the pastry on top

    Bake in the preheated oven, about 1 hour

  4. If you can’t get it Peter, let me know and I’ll scan you a copy.

  5. all i will say is nom nom nom 😀 thanks peter this sounds delicious i will definity be trying it out in the coming weeks, really noticed the nip in the air tonight 🙁