I have banned myself from food shopping this weekend since I still have a ton of ingredients to use up from last week’s ill-advised farmers’ market run. And, as I can no longer see into the ice-box of my fridge, I think I need to defrost that too. Which means I need to cook the following: some fresh broad beans and peas, two sweet potatoes, new potatoes, half an enormous cauliflower, a punnet of plum tomatoes, a small aubergine and the remnants of a rather sad-looking spring cabbage. In the freezer I think I have some chicken legs, lamb shoulder, lime leaves and red Thai chillis though I can’t know that until I defrost it. There’s also lemons, some Parmesan, some gnocchi, a Tupperware box of homemade breadcrumbs, a couple of pitta breads, farmers’ market streaky bacon and a round courgette from a friend’s garden. Oh and another friend brought round an enormous piece of watermelon the other day.
As soon as I started looking through my recipe books I found loads of inspiration but, interestingly, the one ingredient that united at least three of them was one I didn’t have: feta. I found a tweaked version of watermelon and feta salad, a sauce for pasta or gnocchi and a hot sweet potato salad. So, of course, I broke my ban within half an hour of making it and went to buy two packets of feta. But that’s it, promise. I am now going to do my best to use everything up over the next week without any food shopping. I know that for some of you that might be a blessing but I love it more than any other type of shopping, even if it’s just to the corner shop or supermarket. So the quicker I cook this lot up, the quicker I can go back to one of my favourite activities.
My first using-up recipe, with added feta, comes from the second Riverford cookery book which is, like the first, a great inspiration for anyone who wants to know what to do with the more mundane vegetables as well as the interesting ones. This, like today’s weather, is very very summery (hurrah!). It apparently serves four but, since I halved it and found it was just enough for dinner, and not for next day’s lunch too, I’d say it serves one well, or two as a side salad. I bet fresh peas cooked in the same way would work in this too, or even a bit of streaky bacon or pancetta.
Here’s hoping the weather stays salad-friendly all weekend.
For 1, or two as a side salad you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
olive oil, 1 dessertspoon
sea salt and black pepper
fresh broad beans, 150g shelled weight (so I’d say 300g unshelled)
fresh mint, 1 dessertspoon of leaves
half a lemon (zest it before you cut it!)
pitta breads, to serve
1. Shell the broad beans then fill a saucepan with boiling water, bring it back to the boil over the heat and tip in the beans. Boil them for three minutes, drain them in a colander, then rinse them in lots of cold water. Leave them to cool.
2. Whilst the beans cool down, rinse and chop the mint, chop the feta, zest the lemon (and save the zest for a cocktail, gremolata or just for a salad dressing on another day) then juice half of it. Mix a dessertspoon of lemon juice with a dessertspoon of olive oil.
3. When the beans are cool, skin them (unless they are really young and bright green and then it shouldn’t be necessary) by making a small slit in the tough pale outer skin and peeling it off.
4. Put the beans on a plate/in a bowl, sprinkle with the mint and feta then pour over the lemon juice and olive oil. If you are having it with a pitta bread warm it up briefly in a toaster first, then season the salad and serve.