I have always thought mopping food from my plate with a piece of bread is made twice as enjoyable by the fact I was forbidden from doing it as a child. This gloopy stew – chickpeas and tomatoes, sharpened with pickled lemon – is just the stuff for a bit of bread.
Enough for 4, generously, as a main course
red peppers about 500g
olive oil 110ml
red wine vinegar 3 tbsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
chickpeas two 400g cans
preserved lemons 60g
harissa paste 1 tsp
basil leaves a handful
soft, Middle Eastern-style bread to serve
Set the oven at 200C/gas 6. Remove the tomatoes from their stalks, cut each into six and put in a baking dish. Cut the peppers in half, tear out their stalks and seeds, cut the flesh into short chunks, then add to the tomatoes.
Add 75ml of the oil, plus the vinegar, cumin seeds and a generous grinding of black pepper and sea salt. Roast for 50 minutes to an hour, until the peppers are tender and the tomatoes are soft and juicy. If the edges have caught slightly, then all to the good.
Transfer the tomatoes and peppers from the baking dish to a saucepan. Drain the chickpeas of their canning liquor and rinse them under the cold tap. Mix the drained chickpeas with the tomatoes and peppers.
Chop the preserved lemon, discarding the soft inner pulp. Stir the harissa, chopped lemon and remaining olive oil into the chickpeas, place the pan over a moderate heat and leave to simmer for 10 minutes or so, till it is thoroughly hot and juicy. Season with salt and coarse black pepper. Fold the basil leaves, whole, into the mixture, letting them wilt in the heat. Transfer to a serving dish and serve with warm bread.
• Nigel's new book, Kitchen Diaries II, is published by Fourth Estate at £30. To order a copy for £19.99 (including free UK mainland p&p), go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop or call 0330 333 6846.