My dinner party was a big success – well, I had fun anyway, and everyone else seemed to. We ate lots, drank lots (or was that just me?), and there was lots of general merriment.

My cooking had a somewhat Moroccan vibe to it, along with some influences from other Mediterranean countries. I made a Moroccan roasted tomato and chickpea stew, served with Mediterranean couscous (recipe here), a variety of sweet and spicy roasted veg (just mix up some oil with honey and hot sauce and cover your veg with it before roasting) and garlic bread. Personally I thought it was all great, and everyone else wolfed it down with no complaints.

I didn’t exactly want to set up my camera and start snapping away while my guests were sitting there waiting for their food, so I’m afraid I only have one photo of this stew, and it does not do this recipe justice. This was taken part-way through cooking – it continued to stew for at least another hour after this photo was taken, and ended up thick and sticky. The flavours were great – quite sweet with Moroccan spices, with the richness of the roasted tomato and tender chickpeas. I’ll definitely be making this again. I wholeheartedly recommend it next time you throw a dinner party. Not only was it hugely flavourful and easy to make, I was able to leave it simmering away and have fun with my friends, rather than neglecting them to stand over the hob the whole night.

I think this recipe would have been just the sort of thing to use a slow cooker for, but unfortunately mine only arrived at about midday, when I still needed to go to the shops and prepare everything, so I didn’t have time to use it, which was annoying. If you try this in a slow cooker though, let me know! I’m sure it’d be great.

I enjoyed cooking for 10 people, but found it difficult to adapt my thinking to a larger scale. I found myself thinking ‘6 cloves of garlic? That’s got to be too much’, but when I remembered that I’ll happily use three or four cloves just for myself and my boyfriend (I love garlic), using 6 cloves for 10 people actually seemed too little! I also found it hard to picture how much food 10 people would eat, so I wasn’t really sure how much to make – but in the end everyone had a decent plateful, and there wasn’t masses of leftovers, so I think I judged it about right. I’ve scaled down the recipe for you since I don’t suppose many of you often cook for 10!



Moroccan roasted tomato and chickpea stew

Serves 4

2tbsp sunflower oil
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
150g cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1tbsp sugar
1/2tsp ground coriander
1/2tsp turmeric
1t/2sp ground cinnamon
2tsp mild chilli powder
1 1/2tsp garam masala
1 tin chickpeas, drained (240g when drained)
400g tin chopped tomatoes
Black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C (Gas Mark 6 / 400°F).

Halve the two peppers, and remove the stalk and seeds. Lay the peppers on a baking tray, and add the cherry tomatoes. Drizzle over a small amount of oil, and roast for 30 minutes, until soft and beginning to brown at the edges.

Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a large saucepan and gently cook the garlic and onion, adding the sugar after a few minutes. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the onions are beginning to turn translucent. Add the spices and, stirring constantly, cook this mixture for another 5 minutes, until the spices are fragrant.

Once cooked, remove the peppers and tomatoes from the oven, and chop the peppers into small dice. Add these to the pan, along with the chickpeas and tinned tomatoes. Season with salt and black pepper, and cook over a low heat, covered, for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.