This is, probably, one of my absolute favourite meals I have ever made. Not only does it look glorious (excuse self-praising) but it is absolutely delicious. A vegetarian fish and chips if you will; a real rival to that classic seaside dish using halloumi instead of fish. With my recipe there is no crispy batter, however, the outside of the halloumi gets all crispy and wonderful so you really don’t miss it. Plus, as there’s no deep fat frying involved it’s much more suited to a weeknight dinner as there’s no faffing around.
In case it has escaped your attention, September is the month where people make a fuss about organic; aptly named Organic September. I have to admit that the majority of food that I buy is already organic so for me I wanted to try some new organic ingredients that I hadn’t tried before. I loaded up my weekly veg box with tomatillos, Homity pies and all sorts. I was challenged as part of Organic September to make an all organic three course meal, for four people, which cost less than £30.
I have done a few dinner parties before but not a budget conscious one so I was looking forward to seeing what I could make without going over the allowance. Initially I thought a roast chicken would be quite a good idea but with the cold weather closing in I wanted to make something a bit more hearty and autumnal.
I absolutely love peas. For me, a life without peas isn’t worth living. I moved house late last year and I don’t have a freezer; no more emergency frozen peas for me. Happily it’s pea season now so lovely fresh peas are popping up in the veg box, at the farmers’ market and in the garden. If there’s one thing I like even more than peas it’s mushy peas. So for a deliciously easy summer dinner my mushy peas potatoes and ham is perfect.You will need:
- Lots of fresh peas, podded (at least one mug full, the more the better)
- 500g Jersey Royal potatoes, scrubbed, any larger ones halved or quartered
- A few thin slices cured ham (I used Serrano), roughly torn
- A couple fresh mint leaves, shredded
- Small knob of butter
- Salt and pepper
Start by podding the peas. This is one of my favourite kitchen jobs, no sarcasm.
I suppose I was what you would call a late flavour bloomer; I think my olfactorary centre and taste buds started to develop with my wisdom teeth. Indeed not only had I grown some physical wisdom I also had some previous culinary knowledge on which to build, and now, more teeth to eat things with. I have always cooked; biscuits with my Granny, cakes and pastry with my Mum and barbeques with my Dad but it wasn’t until 2008 that I really started to experiment.
At University you become extremely good at procrastination. One of my favourite time wasters was trawling the internet looking for cookbooks. For someone who found flavour offensive I had a pretty large collection of cookery books; I found great pleasure in cooking for others things that I wouldn’t touch with a bargepole. I came across a particular cookery book that sounded pretty good to me; it was over 500 pages long which is a lot of bedtime reading. I ordered it.
What I didn’t know when I ordered it was that it was a book about vegetables; pages and pages of green, red, orange and purple things which were all alien to me but they were organised alphabetically so I liked that. There was one particular recipe that caught my eye, mostly because it seemed cheap. It was green beans with roasted tomatoes. I made it and the textures and flavours were like nothing I’d ever had; the beans were still slightly crunchy and squeaked when you chewed them, the tomatoes were sweet but also acidic. I probably ate more beans at that moment that I had ever eaten cumulatively in my life before.