I spent last week-end away in the beautiful hamlet of Churchaven up the West Coast. It was just what I needed after an abrupt start to my work year, giving me three days to recharge my batteries again and revel in this idyllic environment. I wanted to try these four delicious salad recipes out on my friends, because summer and salads at the beach seemed the perfect way to go.
I wanted to shoot in the gorgeous cottage we stayed in and, luckily for me, one which I will be visiting often this year.
I discovered that recipe testing, entertaining friends and shooting all at the same time is quite tricky and I ran out of steam when the food got to the table. The whole thing was quite a production and I just wanted everyone to get stuck in as opposed to watch me dither around taking more pictures. I thoroughly regret this decision because everything was quite beautiful and I wish I’d persevered. My friends are very understanding of my weird ways with food.
I also wanted to shoot the seafood linguine I made for dinner, because it was delicious. But I’ll chalk that up to a good recipe test to be fine tuned to perfection at home in my studio.
slow roasted tomatoes with mozzarella and basil
This is my adaptation of the Mozzarella Pizzaiola recipe in Polpo, and I landed up using basil instead of oregano which makes up the classic Pizzaiola sauce. Somehow the oregano never got to Churchaven. The tomatoes are roasted slowly in the oven until just before they fall apart and develop a delicious sweetness and their own sauce. I used a mix of whole and half rosa and cherry tomatoes, as well as larger tomatoes cut into similar bite sizes. These spooned over generous handfuls of wild rocket with balls of proper mozzarella broken up, can only be stunningly delicious. That is the beauty of Italian food, simple beautiful ingredients and flavour combinations. (* a note – I was working with a gas oven so not entirely accurate on the temperature front, the temp may have fluctuated a bit but im giving the guidelines as per the book)
Recipe – adapted from Polpo – serves 4 as a side
- 1 kg tomoatoes, any and a variety
- extra virgin olive oil
- red wine vinegar
- sea salt flakes (Maldon) & black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- a small handful basil leaves
- 3 x 125g buffalo mozzarella or fior di latte
- 3 handfuls of fresh wild rocket
pre heat the oven to 140C. Cut the tomatoes into bite sizes or halve cherry and rosa tomatoes. If they are small, leave them whole. Scatter these on a large baking tray. Drizzle over a good glug of olive oil and a few splashes of red wine vinegar. sprinkle the sugar, salt and pepper. Roast for 1 1/2 hours until the tomatoes are starting to burst but still hold their shape.
Allow the tomatoes to cool slightly. Arrange the rocket on a large serving plate and spoon the tomatoes over this making sure to scrape off all the sauce. Tear the mozzarella up slightly and place this on top. Scatter over the basil leaves and serve.
zucchini ‘linguine’ with parmesan
I got a spiraliser gadget for Christmas and have fallen utterly in love with it. So far I have only tested it out on zucchini which the perfect shape and I’m blown away by the long gorgeous strands it makes. This recipe is more of a warm side dish as opposed to a salad but is utterly delicious and I could eat it every day. You literally stir fry your zucchini ‘linguine’ in olive oil, or as I did, in Parmesan infused olive oil, with a hint of crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Serve with finely grated Parmesan cheese over the top, twirl and devour. The garlic is entirely optional and I like it equally with or without. This is a fabulous replacement to pasta if you are looking for a low carb alternative, and is wonderful served with grilled fish.
green beans with red onion and pecorino
This is the second recipe inspired by the book Polpo which I made for our Mediterranean feast and could not be easier. I added red wine vinegar as I felt it need the acidity, and I love the way it takes out the harshness in the sliced red onions, turning them into semi pickled sweet red strips.
Recipe – serves 4 as a side
- 180g beans
- 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced (on a mandolin is great)
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- sea salt and black pepper
- a handful of shaved Pecorino slices
Slice the red onion and place in a bowl with the red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.
Blanch the trimmed beans in salty boiling water for 3 minutes then refresh and drain under cold water.
When you are ready to serve, toss the beans through the red onion and vinegar, arrange them on a plate and scatter over the pecorino. seas on the a pinch more salt and freshly ground black pepper.
asparagus with anchovy butter and Parmesan
Also from Polpo, this is a must do recipe if you are a fan of asparagus and anchovies as I am. Instead of adding the butter at the end, I added it when I put the asparagus in the oven and loved the melted salty sauce it made to dip the spears into.
Recipe – serves 2 – 4 as a side
- 75g butter
- 6 anchovy fillets
- 1/2 small garlic clove or 1/4 of a bigger one, crushed
- 3 basil leaves
- pinch of dried chilli flakes
- 20 asparagus spears, woody ends trimmed off
- grated Parmesan Cheese – enough to cover the spears (about 20gm)
Pre heat the oven to 160C
To make the anchovy butter put all the ingredients except the asparagus and Parmesan into a small blender and process until smooth.
Blanch the asparagus spears for about 3 minutes and then place on a small oven tray and dot with the anchovy butter. Roast for about 3 minutes then arrange on a serving plate. Pour over the melted butter from the pan and grate over the Parmesan cheese.
In addition to these salads, I also served baked ricotta with lemon zest and olive oil (I can’t get enough of ricotta at the moment), and Piedmontese peppers. I griddle pan-fried loads of slices of sourdough bread which I brushed with olive oil, and put it all in the middle of the table for people to tuck in.
I took a few other pics on my iPhone of this slice of paradise.
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