Like the swallows returning and the leaves turning brown there are events in my kitchen that Mark the changing turning of the seasons… The first stew, first quiche, and the first salad. This week I made the first salad of the year. In London spring has sprung.
I do declare that this was the last salad of the summer – I’d planned on cooking something a bit more hearty as the weekend felt a bit back-endish (which is a Nottinghamshire term for autumnal, nothing rude haha) but my lover came in clutching the Jamie Oliver book and insisted.
It’s as if he wanted me to spend hours cleaning the kitchen…
Apparently he’d had his eye on this recipe for a while, understandably so – it’s got a very pretty picture 🙂 this recipe is for four, but with a chunk of garlic bread or something it’d do 6 I reckon (with dessert). To make this you will need 320g dried orecchiette (or similar small pasta) a bunch of fresh basil, a 50g tin of anchovy fillets in oil, a lemon, 2 cloves of garlic, a dried red chilli, 30g Parmesan, a large head of broccoli and 50g pine nuts. For the salad you will need 2 carrots, 1 avocado, 3 ripe tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and rocket (Jamie asks for 70g, but I used the whole pack – what else was I going to do with it?)
Now, usually I would type out the method to the letter, but this recipe just doesn’t work well if you try and do it as it is in the book. Firstly, cut the florets off your broccoli and set them aside for later, then with a box grater grate the stalk and the carrots onto a board (my board got stuck behind the radiator so I used a big serving dish) squeeze and kneed the avocado with your fingers, then squish it out of the skin into the salad (throw away the stone and scrape the skin for any remaining flesh and throw that away too) roughly chop the tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic, season with salt and pepper and then toss it all together with the rocket. This is the salad done so pop it on the table out the way.
Next you need to get the liquidiser out, and then turn the kettle on. Measure out a tablespoon of the oil from the anchovies and tip it in the liquidiser – then drain the rest of the oil and put the anchovies in the liquidiser with the basil and the juice and zest of the lemon. Squash the garlic (Jamie says use a garlic crusher but I don’t have one) and put it in the liquidiser with a splash of boiling water. Then finely grate the Parmesan and add that, and crumble in a dried chilli. I couldn’t find a dried chilli in the whole of Hammersmith, so I kept sprinkling chilli flakes in until it looked like a chilli-worth – it wasn’t the best plan but it was chilli-ish.
Turn the liquidiser on and keep on going until it’s smooth. While it’s whizzing away pour boiling water into a pasta pan and salt it; then add the pasta and cook as recommended on the packet.
If you’re serving this up at a glamorous party, tip the pesto (which is what you just made by the magic of the liquidiser) into a serving bowl. Add the broccoli florets to the pasta when it has about 5 minutes to go. Heat up a little frying pan and toast the pine nuts until they’re golden.
When the pasta and broccoli are cooked, take a cup full of the water from the pan then drain the rest, then tip the pasta into the pesto (if you’re not using a serving dish return the pasta into the pan and tip the pesto in over the top of it) and coat the pasta. Add a bit of the pan water if the pesto needs loosening at all. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the pasta and grate a bit of extra Parmesan over it too. Then serve.
Doing it in this order takes slightly longer than 15 minutes, but without the panic and total kitchen destruction.
It was tasty. It was like a punchier version of the Pasta alla Genovese I made back on week 30 (https://newrecipenight.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/week-30-pasta-alla-genovese/ ) I’d definitely make it again, but not for just the two of us – it’s an impossible recipe to cut in half, so we ended up having it two nights in a row (I put half the pesto and salad into the fridge and did fresh pasta and pine nuts on the second night). It was a bit too much two nights in a row, but it’s definitely one for sharing with friends in the garden on a summer evening with a beer.
Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver (Penguin 2012 ISBN: 978-0-718-15780-7)
This is my first attempt at a Martha Stewart recipe, from a book that’s been baffling me for years. It was sunny again and it was demanded that I make another salad… and as a bonus this recipe is perfect for Fiesta Friday and a very tenuous contender for June’s Cheese Please (if you count parsley as a herb).
Martha suggests that this is an ideal dish to make the next time you’re invited to a pot luck party. I’m pretty sure that’s not the car-keys party… but even if it is, bulgur wheat is a healthy alternative to pasta.
All the measurements are written in crazy measurements, so I’ve put them into grams. This will make enough for 4 as a main course, or 8 as a side salad with something more filling.
You will need 275g Bulgur Wheat, 300g (a pack) cherry/grape tomaoes, parsley, 2 shallots, 4tbs red-wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, 120g fresh goats cheese.
Firstly put the bulgur wheat, a teaspoon of salt and a pint of boiling water into a heatproof bowl and cover with clingfilm for 30 minutes. While the wheat is soaking half the tomatoes, mince the shallots, and roughly chop up the parsley. The recipe calls for an actual bush of parsley but I probably put in about a handful.
Drain the bulgur wheat really well so no water remains and put back in the bowl with the 4tbs of vinegar, 2 tbs plus 2tsp of olive oil (I’d just round it up to 3tbs), the tomatoes, shallots, and parsley, stir it all up so the oil is combined. Next season it with some pepper. Serve with goats cheese crumbled over the top.
I’m not sure what I think about this salad. I love bulgur wheat so that was good – but it really wasn’t very Mediterranean. Maybe if it had used some sun-dried tomatoes it would have been a start… and been less vinegar-y. I think to change the recipe I would try putting the vinegar in with the boiling water so it’s less over-powering.
One of my favourite things about doing New Recipe Night is cooking with new ingredients that have newer before darkened my kitchen counter. This week that honour fell to the the humble shallot. They’re pretty tricky to cut aren’t they?
This time I just used bog standard goats cheese from Chiswick Sainsbury’s, but next time I’ll head over to the cheese shop and get a better one.
I would recommend this for a party, or a barbeque, or just a simple fiesta, but you should make it the day before and keep it in the fridge over night so the flavours blend better, and then drizzle with some fresh olive oil before fluffing it up and serving.
Check these out for something else to cook if Martha’s not so Mediterranean Grain Salad doesn’t tickle your fancy:
Fiesta Friday #21 http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/fiesta-friday-21/
Junes Cheese, Please! http://fromagehomage.co.uk/2014/06/02/junes-cheese-please-recipe-blog-challenge-herbs/
Martha Stewart’s Everyday Light, by Martha Stewart (Transworld Publishers 2011, ISBN 9780593070529)