Monday, 6 June 2011

A motley crew

I am just appalling at keeping up with myself, but I am back again. I thought it might be an idea to jot down a few suggestions to try over the summer, particularly as the lying BBC weathermen have us desiccating slowly away over the coming months (as I write this, it’s the wettest Monday morning in months...)

Suggestion no. 1 is a take on salsa verde, that pinging green sauce that goes so well with lamb, fish and practically everything else and ratatouille, given I had no courgettes or peppers. I had some lamb chops I particularly wanted to roast until rosy pink inside and wanted a refreshing side dish. I whizzed up in the food processor (you don’t want a smooth sauce, more of a sludgy paste), three to four  anchovies and a little of the oil, a good squeeze of lemon, a big handful of mint leaves, a few oregano leaves, a tiny bit of grain mustard and enough olive oil to loosen. Check the seasoning and lemon juice in particular. Drain and rinse a can of borlotti beans (or cook your own fresh, naturally) and toss in the dressing. I roasted some cubes of butternut squash and aubergine alongside the lamb, then tossed the vegetables with some fresh chopped tomato, a handful of rocket leaves, then stirred them through the beans and dressing.

Coming back to the missing ingredients above, roasted peppers would work fabulously with the dressing, with or without the lamb.

Suggestion no. 2 is just a very simple dressing to spoon over squid or fish fresh from the BBQ. Squeeze a lime into a dish, add a little chopped chilli, half a tsp of cumin, a little salt and then whisk in some olive oil. It just lifts like nothing else.

No. 3: Going back to the asparagus and pea puree I made a few weeks ago, my most recent batch found a culinary bedfellow in the scooped-out insides of a baked potato, piled back in the skin and topped with a little grated cheese before being heated through in the oven. It would be lovely with something porcine – perhaps even such an old-fashioned thing as a gammon chop.

The hot sunshine of last week prompted a flick through some books to find an exciting salad recipe for no. 4. Jamie at Home has a recipe for strawberry and halloumi salad with speck ( a cured ham), which was just the ticket. Macerate the strawberries with a tbsp balsamic vinegar, a little lemon juice, salt and pepper and a little olive oil. Fry a few slices of halloumi in a pan until golden. Toss the strawberries through a salad leaves, top with the halloumi slices and if you have anything in the way of crispy bacon, ham or even speck, it’s terribly good with – and not so bad without.

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