As the cold temperatures of December set in, I felt eager to share a childhood recipe that’s warmed up many a lunch and dinner throughout the years. During the winter months, a variety of vegetable purees were often served as the first course for lunch at home, and were always very welcome and appreciated. But I had my favorites, and the one I was set to showcasing here was undoubtedly king of my heart. It’d been a while since I’d last had it, too, increasing my urge to make it. A couple of National holidays combined with accomodating professors meant I was class-free for the week, which I took advantage of to visit my parents; this was perfect timing to make the recipe with my mom, who’s always glad to lend a hand for my blogging endeavours.
I got out my props, made everything pretty, chopped away and shot and stirred. After a morning full of cooking and styling, we finally sat down to lunch (at 4 p.m. This is Spain, folks) and I earnestly raised the first spoonful of bright orange belly warming concoction to my mouth with a smile of jovial anticipation. The moment it passed through my lips I knew something was off, and joy turned dissapointment as it went down my throat.
I inmediately knew what was amiss: we added about half a zucchini that didn’t belong there. This really brought me down. The puree tasted fine, and it had a nice texture and was perfectly alright, but it was not what was in my mind; not what I wanted to share. I know that, in the big scheme of things, this was a rather meaningless glitch, but it felt like a really stupid mistake that would send all the work down the drain (and I’m a real newbie in this field, so it takes me forever to make up my mind about how to style stuff in order to make it look blog worthy and decide on what props to use and then take acceptable pictures of it and so on and so forth).
So my first reaction was obviously to throw everything away and start from scratch. But then I decided it would really be a shame to not use what I already had just because there was a quiet inoffensive zucchini taking up some room in the pictures. I guess a lot of the time we tend to be too hard on ourselves so I decided to cut myself some slack; we just made another batch of puree, this time without the zucchini, to make sure that it turned out the way it should (it did), and I’m just using the pictures I had of the first batch, although of course giving you the actual directions to the original unaltered version (sans zucchini), hoping that it might help warm you up some chilly December night or brighten up your day with its festive luminous shade and pure pleasing taste.
Winter vegetable puree:
- 3 carrots
- 2 medium/smallish potatoes
- one big yellow onion
- half green bell pepper
- 400g (14 oz can) of crushed tomatoes
- 1 l (about 4 cups) water
- olive oil
- 1/2 ts sugar
- salt, garlic and parsley (you can make it as the link suggests or just mince garlic and parsley separately)
Pour some olive oil into a big, tall pot (enough to lightly cover the bottom, maybe 2 Tb or so) and set it over high heat.
While the oil is heating up, slice the onion (it doesn’t need to be too thin).
When the oil is hot, but not yet smoking, dump the sliced onion into the pot and stir around to distribute oil evenly.
Slice the green bell pepper and add it to the pot; stir some more. If it begins to smoke a lot and/or the vegetables start to brown, lower the heat, as we don’t want this to happen.
Peel and slice the carrots, add them to the pot and keep stirring for a bit.
Peel and dice the potatoes (not too small, maybe roughly 1.5 cm (1/2 to 3/4 inch) cubes).
Keep stirring the other vegetables and, when the onion and pepper feel rather soft, add the potatoes and season with the salt, garlic and parsley to your liking (I guess I added about 1 loosely packed Tb).
Keep cooking, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or so. Then add the crushed tomatoes and a big pinch of sugar (about 1/2 ts), stir to combine, and add the water, which I measure with the can of crushed tomatoes so I get all of the tomato into the pot. If you want to do it this way, use 2 and 1/2 cans of water. If not, just add about 4 cups.
Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low and let cook until the potatoes are very, very tender, falling apart if you pierce them, maybe 1 hour and a half or more.
Use an inmersion blender to turn into a puree (or whatever kind of blender you have. I like inmersion blenders because they are inexpensive, take up very little space and do the job for an incredible variety of uses).
Serve and dive right in. It’s also very good with some grated cheese sprinkled on top.
Since there’s only vegetables in it (no cream or other more quickly perishable ingredients) it will keep for several days in the fridge. It also freezes nicely, in case you want to save up some for later use.