Archive for July 2008

Peaches, Beets, Walnuts & Gorgonzola

July 12th, 2008 — 9:37am

The ‘urban garden’ has been a moderate success – ok, so the potatoes weren’t exactly abundant! The tomatoes are going strong though, the herbs flourishing (even two types of basil I’ve been unable to grow before) and these pretty salad leaves, the first harvest. One is a type of rocket, the other is known as ‘bull’s blood’ – presumably due to its striking red veins. Both have a slightly bitter flavour, a good foil for the sweet peaches and creamy cheese.

These were supposed to be grilled. I forgot to light the BBQ, so I cooked them gently in a little butter and black pepper. I tossed them with the salad leaves, some walnut halves, roasted beets, crumbled gorgonzola – all drizzled with a dressing made by whisking olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. A little chopped mint is good too if you have it.

25 comments » | Fruit, Garden, Gluten-free, Main Dishes, Salads, Side Dishes, Starters, Vegetables

New Potatoes, Crispy Salami & Watercress Salsa Verde

July 11th, 2008 — 7:13am

So there we were, me with trowel in hand, Chris brandishing the half a grow bag with the potato plant sprouting forth – putting it down on the table as if we were about to chop it’s head off or something. We cut through the grow bag and start pushing fingers into the earth, searching for potatoes – keep searching, keeeep searching…..

It turns out our first mighty strong potato plant managed to produce all of five (ish) potatoes, poor thing! With hindsight I think it would have produced more had we left it another couple of weeks after the flowers died. Still, I must say – the flavour of those few potatoes was fantastic. We savoured every bite – all two of them.

So, I was a bit cocky about the potatoes – but they looked so healthy! Anyway, we have another plant so there is still hope for the crop. I used Anya potatoes for this salad in the end – they have a nice waxy texture – and mixed our measly offerings in too. You can see one of them on the left of the picture above. Fight for it?

The flavours in this salad are punchy – salty, umami-packed salami (umami-salami, umami-salami), finely shredded spring onions and that salsa verde. It’s a nice peppery variation with the watercress that’s around right now – and just think of all those extra vitamins! Oh, go on, think about them…

When we get around to digging up that other plant (aka, pulling it out of the grow bag) – I’ll take some pictures so that you can all have a good laugh admire our bountiful harvest.

New Potatoes, Crispy Salami & Watercress Salsa Verde

New potatoes
Salami Slices (I used German), cut into strips
3 spring onions, finely shredded

For the salsa verde

50g watercress
2 cloves garlic
10 anchovy fillets (the brown, salty kind)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 small lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small handful capers
1 small handful cornichons (baby gherkins)
1 small handful each basil leaves, parsley leaves and mint leaves
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard

– Cook the potatoes until just tender, drain and set aside in a serving dish.
– Add the salami slices to a hot, dry pan and cook until crispy. Drain on kitchen paper.
– Add the garlic, watercress, herbs, anchovies, cornichons and capers to a blender and pulse to a coarse paste. You can do this by hand if you like, or with a pestle and mortar. Add the lemon juice and/or mustard to loosen if necessary so you can blend it properly. Decant into a bowl and add any remaining wet ingredients, loosening it with the oil to the desired consistency. I left mine quite paste-like this time.
– Add some salsa verde to the potatoes, mix in the salami and sprinkle over the onions.

20 comments » | Lunchbox, Meat, Salads, Side Dishes, Vegetables

Beetroot, Squash & Halloumi with Chilli-Herb Dressing

July 9th, 2008 — 7:11am

When I first went to university, around 7 years ago now, I remember thinking that a butternut squash was a pretty exotic ingredient. For a start, it looked funny, had an almost impenetrable skin and would keep for what seemed like an age – perfect for the absent minded student. A butternut squash risotto was probably the most adventurous dish I ever cooked back then and I remember that trying to find the sage was a bit of a challenge.



I was a little surprised to find a butternut squash in the veg box this week – it must be an early bloomer. I wanted to roast it but still keep it nice and summery mixed with the grilled, salty cheese, spiked with red chilli and lots of herbs. The key here is to cut the beetroot into small dice and the squash into larger, bite size chunks to ensure they are both cooked at the same time. My halloumi could do with a little more grilling but I am very impatient.

You could use any mixture of soft herbs; I added a bit of mint to contrast the chilli heat, some chives and a little parsley for freshness. Make sure you have some sort of citrus on hand too for cutting through everything; I used lemon as I always have loads hanging around. A final flourish of sunflower seeds for a bit of crunch and it’s a goer.

Beetroot, Squash and Halloumi with Chilli-Herb Dressing

100g halloumi cheese, cubed
3 small beets, cut into small dice
1 small butternut squash, cut into large chunks
1 small handful sunflower seeds
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 handful mint leaves, chopped
1 handful chives, chopped
1 handful parsley, leaves picked and left whole
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
1 bulb garlic

– Preheat the oven to 200C (425F, gas 7).
– Put the squash, beets and garlic in a roasting tin, splash with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for around 45 minutes until the veggies are tender.
– Fry the halloumi in a dry pan until golden.
– Mix the lemon juice, herbs, chilli and mustard together with some pepper fine salt and mix well. When the veggies are done, squeeze a few cloves of the roasted garlic in too. I like to serve the rest of the cloves on the side but they are also delicious spread on toasted bread with some fruit and/or cheese.
– Put the veggies and halloumi on a serving dish, pour over the dressing and add the seeds.

21 comments » | Gluten-free, Lunchbox, Salads, Side Dishes, Vegetables

Strawberry and Orange Blossom Fizz.

July 3rd, 2008 — 1:50pm

Cheers! Just a short post to raise a glass to the ever-patchy British summer. This is a deliciously refreshing way to use up those strawberries that are everywhere now without so much as stepping within ten feet of balsamic or some kind of pastry. It’s minimum effort too – just requiring a bit of gentle squidging and pouring.

You could use champagne of course, but I just used a bottle of good old Cava. This is a case of adjusting quantities to your taste so I suggest just mushing some strawberries into a jug, then adding a splash of orange blossom water and a little icing sugar if you feel it needs more sweetness. Pour a little into the bottom of each glass and top with your plonk of choice. Ice cold of course. Delicious!

15 comments » | Drinks

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