Category Archives: salad

Aubergine and tomato salad

This post has been waiting for me to write it for a while.  I made this dish probably about ten days ago, but it’s been the end of the summer holidays and we have been making the most of our time with the girls.

This was the harvest from our polytunnel:

We were very excited as this is the first time we have had success with growing aubergines.  Mr OC planted a mixed seed collection and these beauties were the result. We kept them in the house on the windowsills until the fruit appeared and then transferred them into the polytunnel and this, I think, has been the secret of our success.  The ones planted directly into the polytunnel have produced flowers but no fruit, which was our experience last year.  Our tomatoes have been brilliant this year, supplying a constant stream of ripe fruit and our basil is beautifully scented.  I think this particular harvest is from a supermarket plant that I had pretty much used up in the house and so put it in the greenhouse and it has survived and gone from strength to strength.

I wanted to do something which made the most of both the aubergines and the tomatoes.  Sometimes, the aubergine gets a bit lost when baked with a tomato sauce when I do an aubergine lasagne thingy.  That is OK (and really quite delicious) when the aubergines are from the grocers, but when you have looked at them growing every day for a few months you really want them to be the centrepiece.  I do minted aubergines quite a lot, but the mint is over and cut back in the garden now.  Michele at Cooking at Home posted a wonderful and very inspiring pomodoro crudo the other week and so this seemed perfect to adapt a little for an aubergine and tomato salad.

So the tomatoes were diced and thrown into a bowl with some crumbled feta, salt and pepper and extra virgin olive oil and the basil and left to marinate whilst I got on with roasting the aubergines.

This picture doesn’t compare with Michele’s, so pop over to her site for a more beautiful image, where she uses mozzarella with her tomatoes.

I sliced the aubergines, sprinkled them with olive oil and seasoned generously with salt and pepper.

I then roasted them in the baking oven of my Aga, which is the equivalent of 180°c (gas mark 4) for about 20 minutes until soft and golden.

I placed the aubergines on the serving platter and placed the tomatoes and the lovely juices all over.

It’s best to leave it to stand for five minutes or so for the juices to be absorbed into the aubergine and then serve with lots of bread to mop up the juices.

This was a dish which definitely made the best of our polytunnel harvest.

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Pea and cos salad – the return

A few weeks ago I posted about my efforts to recreate the pea and cos salad we had on our wedding day.  Well here is another version of that salad, and this is a bit closer to the original. I have made this a couple of times in the last couple of weeks – well you can never have too much of good thing, surely? The recipe is an adaptation of one given to my mum by a very good friend who was a guest at our wedding and knows how much we loved it. The original recipe calls for mayonnaise and then adds Dijon mustard, vinegar and sour cream.  However, as I make my own mayonnaise which already has mustard and vinegar in it, I don’t add these as an extra and I replace the sour cream with yoghurt, as I always have a pot of that in the house. If you are using mayonnaise out of a jar though feel free to add a little mustard and vinegar to spike things up a bit.

I promise this will be the last version I post, I don’t want to risk boring you.

Feel free to add parmesan shavings too.

For the mayonnaise:
1 whole egg
pinch of Colman’s mustard powder
small clove of garlic, crushed
salt and pepper
100ml of oil ( a mild olive oil or half and half of olive oil and ground nut oil, depending on your taste)
1 tsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice

Method for mayonnaise

Place the egg, mustard powder, crushed garlic and salt and pepper in a food processor and whizz until combined.  With the motor running, pour the oil in a steady and gentle stream through the funnel of the processor until the mixture is emulsified and thick.  I tend to use around 100ml of oil, but it may need more or else so be guided by your own judgement. Add the vinegar or lemon juice and whizz again.  Check the seasoning and add more salt, pepper or vinegar/lemon juice to taste.

For the salad:
Homemade mayonnaise (as above)
150g greek yoghurt, or thick natural yoghurt
a good handful of mint, finely chopped
peas (I use frozen and as many handfuls as I think I need)
lettuce of some description

Method for salad

Combine the mayonnaise and the yoghurt and add the chopped mint. Cook the peas in boiling water for a minute or two, then drain and rinse under cold water until cool.  Add to the mayonnaise mixture.  Arrange the salad leaves on a plate and dollop over the pea mixture.

Marinated peppers

I am in a celebratory mood.  This is my 100th post.  When I started blogging in September last year to reach the goal of posting 100 recipes seemed very distant indeed.  I have enjoyed every minute, although, I fear my waistline is expanding exponentially. Yesterday I recorded the greatest number of views to my blog since I started. Today I am a very happy blogger indeed.

To add to this happiness we have been eating summery food for a couple of weeks now and enjoying some very lovely sunshine.  Marinated peppers is one of my favourite salads and it formed part of a whole hosts of summery salads I put together for tea the other night. The spread included minted aubergines (recipe coming soon), chorizo in red wine with feta, tomato salad and lettuce from the poly tunnel.  Some would call it a mezze, some tapas, I call it bits and bobs.

If I had waited a couple of nights we could have had our first Charlotte potatoes from the polytunnel too, as we had those this week too and very delicious they were too.  Life is very good indeed.

These marinated peppers are lovely and will happily sit in the fridge for a day developing their flavour, so are handy for parties as they can be made well ahead.  They look even better if you use a mixture of red, yellow and orange peppers.  I don’t particularly like green peppers but if you do, go for it.

This is the recipe if you are just using 1 pepper to serve 2 people, but it is easy to double, triple or quadruple.

1 red pepper
1 clove garlic
½ tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
lots of parsley

Method

Leaving the pepper whole, place onto a baking tray and roast in a hot oven until blackened.  Because I have an Aga I just place the pepper directly onto the floor of the roasting oven and turn every five minutes and it takes about twenty minutes for the pepper to blacken all over.  You can grill a pepper to the same effect or indeed hold it using large kitchen tongs over a gas flame.  Once it is blackened all over, place the pepper into a plastic food bag and tie to seal and leave for five minutes.  This steaming in the bag makes it easy to peel.  Peel the skin from the pepper, holding it over a bowl to catch any precious juices.  Remove the stalk and seeds and slice the roasted pepper into thin slices. Place in a shallow dish and pour over any juices.

Crush the garlic either with a garlic crusher or in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of sea salt.  Add the vinegar and mix well and then add the olive oil, mixing well again.  The measurements given above are for a classic vinaigrette, but I tend to splosh and taste, adjusting to my taste and I do like it a little on the acidic side so feel free to adjust to your own taste.  Season with more salt if necessary and pepper. Pour this dressing over the pepper and mix well.  When the pepper is totally cool, add plenty of parsley.  Place in the fridge but bring it out to get to room temperature before you want to serve it.

Pea and cos salad

When Mr OC and I wed, we had a wonderful caterer who really put on a very fine spread.  Everything was delicious, but one of the things that really stood out from the rest was the wonderful pea and cos salad.  I have since tried to recreate this on many occasions and I admit that I don’t think I am quite there yet.  I think crème fraîche and parmesan were involved somewhere along the line.

However, the other day I saw a cos lettuce for sale and so bought it, but then promptly forgot to purchase either crème fraîche or parmesan ( I blame shopping with two small children for my terrible ability to go out for a pint of milk and return with a pot of basil and a piece of steak, but no milk, but I don’t really think they are to blame).  So I had a go with what I had in the fridge and the garden and although it doesn’t reach the sublime level of the salad of our wedding day it is really nice, especially with a good roast chicken or a slab of rare steak.

I will keep trying with my recreation of the original recipe, so you may well see another recipe for this appearing at some point in the future.  However, for now, here is a version.  If you do have some parmesan in the fridge then shave some over just before serving, and feel free to replace the yoghurt with crème fraîche.  I promise to try harder next time I go shopping.

1 head of cos lettuce, washed and dried
3 or 4 handfuls of frozen or fresh peas, boiled until tender (2 or 3 minutes in boiling water)

150g Total greek yoghurt
handful of fresh mint, chopped
juice of ½ lemon
salt and pepper

Method

Arrange the washed salad leaves on a platter and artfully pour over the peas.  Mix together the yoghurt, chopped mint and lemon juice and season to taste and dollop over the peas and lettuce.

Dig in and enjoy!