Friday, December 30, 2005

Summer Lovin'

Today, 5 days after Christmas, I finally dealt with the last of our leftovers. I discarded the excess stuffing, and removed the rest of the meat from the turkey carcass, before carefully packing it into a zip-lock freezer bag, duly labelling it as “turkey”, and shunting it into the freezer.

With that, I said “goodbye” to all the delicious, yet totally seasonally inappropriate Christmas meals we’ve been having, and “hello” to Nigella’s warmer-weather menus!

It was 38 degrees today, and I’d already planned one of Nigella’s summer lunches for our dinner (see next post!). However, when Dad and I went shopping for the ingredients this morning, I realised that we could do yet another menu for lunch.

In the introduction to the Weekend Lunch chapter, Nigella writes about her relaxed approach to sociable weekend lunches, where the focus is most definitely on the eating, rather than the cooking. In the introduction, she suggests many of the little bits and pieces you can buy to put together a delicious and laid-back lunch.

“And if you don’t want to cook it, you don’t have to. Saturday lunch can be at its most relaxed and pleasurable when it is just an indoor picnic. What matters, then, is what you buy. These days shopping is nobly recast as ‘sourcing’ – and clever you for finding the best chilli-marinaded olives, French sourdough bread or air-dried beef: certainly no shame for not clattering about with your own pots and pans instead”.

With that in mind, I decided on a slightly edited version of...


Prosciutto, mozzarella and basil, or fresh ricotta
Griddled courgettes or roast asparagus
Salad and bread
Rhubarb meringue pie

I chose mozzarella instead of fresh ricotta (both are relatively simple to find here) with basil oil, griddled courgettes and roast asparagus, and bread. I decided against a salad or the pie, (too much effort on a hot day), and supplemented the menu with griddled eggplant slices and chilli-marinaded olives. And yes, clever me for finding the best chilli-marinaded olives in Melbourne. They're at the fabulous deli in Cardamone's supermarket on High street in Fairfield, where we also sourced the prosciutto, the buffallo mozarella, and the pane di casa loaf of bread. At the deli counter, you can see into the kitchen behind, which is where they make up all the deli produce, and fresh lasagne and other ready to eat meals, like pasta, soups and so on. No wonder it's one of our favourite food places!

226. Basil Oil

The only actual recipe in the menu is the basil oil, which you drizzle over the buffalo mozzarella. To make the oil, you simply blanch a bunch of basil leaves in boiling water, refresh them in ice-water, drain, and then process with olive oil.


So when we came home, it was a simple matter of setting everything up. First the basil oil, then the asparagus (roasted with oil and salt in a hot hot oven), griddling the eggplant and zucchini, and putting everything on plates.


Grilled veg - zucchini, eggplant, asparagus



Cheese with basil oil and beautiful red tomatoes

my plate

When we ate, it was the hottest point of the day, and it was too blazingly hot to even consider venturing outside. So, we ate in the air-conditioned comfort of the kitchen. Everything was wonderful. I suppose that when you start with high-quality ingredients, it's quite hard to screw things up. And I loved the companiable nature of the meal - passing around the plates, slicing the tomatoes and bread as we wanted them and so on.

I absolutely adore the classic insalata caprese combination of mozzarella, tomato and basil. You might call it a clichéd combination if it weren't so damned delicious. I would have sliced up the tomatoes and arranged them in concentric circles with the mozzarella, but I'm sure that there is no way Nigella would ever approve of such a non-monochromatic side salad.

And this photo is just to show one reason why I love an insalata caprese so much.

This is a photo of me, eating an insalata caprese sandwich last year, on holiday in Capri.

Aah memories...

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