The fridge yesterday was littered with bits of vegetables left over from the last few meals – half a red pepper, a few sprigs of purple sprouting broccoli, a heel of butternut squash. All looking a little sad for themselves.
Channeling Frugal Queen I decided that it couldn’t all go to waste, and that there was enough for a good lunch with a little imagination.
Onto the roasting tray went the bits of sweet pepper, cubed butternut squash, a few quarters of red onion and a few cloves of garlic. A generous drizzle of olive oil and a grind or two of salt and it was roasted for fifteen minutes, adding the brocolli for a final fifteen minute blast.
Tahini, maple syrup, the juice and grated zest of a fresh lime and seasoning were whipped up together and scooped onto the now charred and softened vegetables from the oven.
Fast food at its best. Thirty minutes, and fresh, healthy and prepared with minimal cost.
What’s not to love.
Provence specialises in olive bread called fougasse, and our morning trips to the boulangerie always resulted in our coming home with a freshly baked one in the basket alongside the croissants.
This was a life saver, as our two teenage vegans couldn’t eat the other breakfast pastries, which were all baked with butter. They did devour these beauties, however, pulling them apart warm and fragrant from the oven.
Prepared and baked with olive oil, heavily layered with pungent olive paste and black olives, and scattered with local Camargue salt crystals and fresh thyme, these fougasse were remarkably delicious.
I’ve never tasted anything quite as good out of Provence.
Spiced toasted chickpeas, roasted sweet potatoes, kale and broccoli, all drizzled with a lemony tahini dressing.
I added a base layer of wholemeal rice as we were hungry this evening, but in fact the sweet potatoes and chickpeas were incredibly filling so it probably wasn't necessary.
All in all this was a glorious mixture of crunchy and soft, spicy and citrus fresh flavours and textures.
Thankyou, Minimalist Baker! Your recipe was perfect. Supper sorted in thirty minutes.
You have to love a man who can scramble eggs to perfection. There's simply no other course of action possible. And my husband is indeed the Egg Meister.
Breakfast in bed with scrambled Burford Brown eggs, feta cheese and sliced spicy Turkish sausage, with toasted sourdough on the side. Deliciousness itself.
What's not to love 😍
We've just returned from a week in Provence, and the Camargue. A beautiful, wild and empty place, with salt marshes and rice fields stretching as far as the horizon.
Despite the bulls, the white horses and the flamingoes, the thing that intrigued me most were that all the fence posts were absolutely covered in snails. Clustered together in the baking midday sun like limpits on a shoreline rock.
I know that the French like to eat them with garlic butter, but this behaviour, crowded together on all the fence posts almost like a self-service buffet, totally perplexed me.
Nature is strange!
There’s nothing quite like a French market when the fruit is in season. The stalls groan with white and yellow fleshed peaches and nectarines, apricots, grapes and melons.
Still warm from the sun (although husband prefers them cold from the fridge) they’re sweet, succulent and perfectly ripe. I’m ending every meal at home this week in Provence with a bowl of these instead of dessert.
It’s gotta be healthier than creme brulee, right?
The market in Arles is a riot for the senses, a saturation of vibrant colour and warm smells.
The spice stalls display their wares in huge open bowls; turmeric, harissa, cumin, ras el hanout and paprika, all jostling together for attention in a glorious mosaic of intense, earthy hues.
Colour and taste are everywhere here. This fougasse, a local artinisal bread made with olives and thyme, is the perfect example of simple local ingredients being used to create an intense taste experience.
The temperature has plummeted to the teens over the last few days in London. Not quite enough to warrant a warming stew for dinner, but certainly cold enough to ditch the salads and demand something a little more substantial.
Enter stage left, lasagne, with a bit of a difference.
What I love about this Rose Elliot recipe is that there is no need to waste thirty minutes of your life making a bechamel sauce.
Simply loosen ricotta with a little milk and use this as the “sauce” between the layers of fresh pasta and greenly, garlic and mint-scented onions, petit pois and courgettes. Top with parmesan et, voila! Dinner is served. Accompany with a crisp, green salad if you’re able, and maybe a cheeky glass of Sancerre…
Burrata. Bursting with creamy lusciousness. My absolute favourite type of mozzarella, and damn the calories.
It’s normally served with ripe tomatoes, maybe a few sprigs of fresh basil, but not much else. It’s richness doesn’t normally warrant any kind of embellishment.
However, at Jackson and Rye in London they serve it with a twist. Puddled in a smokey, tomato infused oil and drizzled with my new favourite condiment of the summer, walnut gremolata.
It’s a mixture of chopped, toasted walnuts, lemon zest, garlic and parsley, and it packs a delicious punch which acts as the perfect counterpoint to the soft, richly smooth burrata. An inspired combination.
I nearly ordered it twice… 😝
Many years ago I tried a Nigella recipe for involtini. It was an immediate taste revelation for me, a totally addictive experience.
Something about the melting combination of softly charred aubergines, sweet raisins, salty feta and the earthy, oily crunch of nuts and pine nuts hooked me immediately. It got transferred to my ancient, much thumbed personal journal of recipes and every now and then it emerges back onto the menu.
Today I’m making it once again. After a weekend of festival food and too much meat and BBQ sauce, I’m ready for a vegetarian detox, and this is just what I’m in the mood for.
Serve with fresh green salad, or like me, spoon it straight from the pan with gluttonous glee.