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I have been wanting to make and devour this meal ever since I spied it. What would we do without Nigel Slater? This recipe was found in his book Tender, which is fabulous, and everyone should read it.
We had rain yesterday and this morning, but by the time we got home from work it was hot and sunny again. A perfect excuse to use the barbeque, if only to chargrill some courgettes.
The green lentils are boiled until cooked, then mixed into a dressing of red wine vinegar and sherry vinegar (I substituted sherry for cider as this is what I had), olive oil, finely chopped garlic, sliced spring onions, salt and pepper.
For the courgettes, you slice them thinly (I used a selection of green and yellow), pop them in a colander and sprinkle with salt. You leave them for at least half an hour, then wash them and pat them dry.
Chargrill them, then toss them in extra virgin olive oil, finely chopped parsley, salt and pepper.
And finely, the ham. This was excellent quality, acorn-fed Spanish ham. That’s it. You don’t do anything to it, just lay out the slices on your plate, or tear them up a bit.
Altogether on a plate this is a beautiful combination of tastes and textures. Eaten outside it is, of course, all the better.
Not food, but another of my loves - vintage things. So I wanted to share this find anyway. A vintage style Post Office cabinet – how lovely is this, and all those handy cubby holes! Available from The Allotment Shop.
As promised, my basic dressing recipe. I’m not quite sure what makes a ‘French’ dressing, but this recipe include Dijon mustard, which is French. A tip I picked up from Jamie Oliver is to use two types of ‘acid’ in a salad dressing – I can’t really remember the reason, but I do it, and I like it.
This salad dressing is easy to whip up – all you need is a jam jar and the ingredients – and is great simple tossed into salad leaves, or equally lovely with my recent Salad of Lettuce, Peas and Ham.
Homemade salad dressing
White wine vinegar
Ground black pepper
In a jam jar (with lid) put a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard. Sprinkle in some salt (I used Maldon Sea Salt) and some black pepper.
Add equal amounts of white wine vinegar and lemon juice. Put the lid on the jar and shake well.
Add twice to four times as much olive oil as there is vinegar and lemon juice. I do this all by eye, just looking to see where the liquid comes up to in the jar. I also tend to use olive oil rather than extra virgin olive oil, as I find the extra virgin stuff can be too overpowering.
Screw on the lid and shake it vigorously. Depending on the thickness of the dressing you want, add more oil to make it thinner.
Taste it, adjust any of the seasonings as you wish. Not punchy enough? Add more mustard to give it a kick. Needs more sharpness? Add a dash more vinegar or lemon juice. If you want more sweetness, you can always add runny honey, sugar, or Agave syrup, but too much can make it sickly. I always make it a bit stronger as once you add it to a salad the flavour is diluted.
As promised, and as always, a simple recipe for a delicious meal. A salad of lettuce, peas and ham inspired by Nigel Slater.
If you’re a regular reader, you will have realised by now that original recipes always get changed in our house. Sometimes you don’t always have all the ingredients at home or it’s not sensible to go out buying them all. Sometimes you must make do and create new recipes from substitute ingredients. This is the joy of cooking that I love.
A yummy way to use up a lettuce glut as we have. You can’t beat the taste of homegrown lettuce and local peas. The homemade French dressing recipe to follow.
A salad of lettuce, peas and ham
Fresh peas straight from their pod
A couple of slices of free range ham (thicker is better here)
Baby gem lettuces
A hunk of good quality white bread
A piece of Jarsleburg cheese
Homemade French dressing
Pod your peas and place in a bowl.
Wash and slice your baby gem lettuces – add to the peas.
Shread the ham and cut the cheese into cubes. Add these to the peas and lettuce.
Heat a glug of olive oil in a fry pan. Tear up the soft inners of the bread (no crusts). Once the oil is hot, add the pieces of bread and fry until golden.
Add the crispy bread to the salad and drizzle over homemade French dressing – you can add a little cream to the standard dressing if you wish, something that Nigel’s recipe calls for.
Our allotment is beginning to take shape – finally it looks like an allotment. That might sound funny, but it’s true. Until the other week it wasn’t much more than a strip of motorway verge. All overgrown and unloved.
Now it has a small lawn (currently suffering under the baking sun) for us to sit and eat lunch on, a herb garden (thyme in full flower), potatoes about to flower, sunflowers, courgette and pumkin plants, slender sweetcorn plants, and the beginnings of bark pathways. It is so exciting!
The other night Mr Rigg made us a delicious dinner of asparagus, mint and lemon risotto. He found this great sounding recipe of Jamie Oliver’s, and although we did deviate from the recipe Jamie is always full of inspiration.
What did we do differently?
- Well, we cooked our asparagus in the oven like we did here.
- We cooked the risotto the way we normally do risotto, rather than learning a slightly different way.
- We added lemon zest as we were adding stock.
- We stirred the sliced cooked asparagus and sliced mint into the risotto at the end.
- And only added a spritz of lemon juice at the end to taste.
However, without Jamie’s recipe as a starting point I’d have never thought to combine asparagus, mint and lemon together in a risotto. And you should – it’s divine!
This is Buddy and me in a meadow near our house. We are really enjoying the warm evenings and the pretty countryside around where we live. I love England when it’s like this. Buddy loves racing and bouncing through the long grass, then rolling in it to cool down.
We are also doing a doggy behavioural training programme which we started on Sunday. Buddy has ‘other dog’ issues and we are seeking knowledge advice from a canine behaviour expert to help us and Buddy through these problems. Our first session was really positive, we learnt a lot and now have lots to put into pratice until we go back for our next session. Wish us luck!
It is so warm at the moment that we are enjoying lots of meals eaten in the garden. We have a tiny little red metal table and two chairs, providing just enough space to squeeze on dinner for two.
Tonight we ate crusty bread…thin slices of French sausisson…fat pieces of Parma ham…my favourite cheese at the moment Brebirousse…
…and a bowl of warm tomatoes with torn chunks of milky buffalo mozzarella and drizzled with lots of extra virgin olive oil and a few splashes of balsamic vinegar.
Simple food is always good food.
Here’s the follow up to yesterday’s post – our really local dinner. Our local ingredients can be substituted with local produce from where you live or from your garden or allotment.
Grilled sausages, buttered new potatoes and a homegrown salad
7 Locally reared sausages (3 for girls, 4 for boys)
A bag of earth covered Cheshire new potatoes
A bowl full of homegrown salad leaves
Homegrown Rainbow radishes (or normal!)
Local peas from about 20 pods
A giant spring onion (from Unicorn)
A bunch of parsley from the garden
Extra virgin olive oil
A dash a white wine vinegar
Sea salt and black pepper
Firstly, finely slice the spring onion and add to a large bowl. Sprinkle with a dash of white wine vinegar and salt and leave to ‘pickle’ whilst you get everything else ready.
Preheat the grill. Grill the sausages, turning regularly, until cooked through and a sticky brown colour.
Put a pan of salted water onto boil. Scrub the new potatoes and boil until cooked. Drain, add a generous knob of butter to the hot pan, let it melt then slosh the potatoes around until well coated. Season with salt.
To the spring onion, add finely sliced parsley. Clean and top and tail the radishes, then slice and add to the onion and parsley. Pop the peas from their pods and add to the bowl.
When the potatoes and sausages are ready, add the salad leaves to the onion, radishes and peas and toss all the ingredients together with a glug of extra virgin olive oil.