Nigel Slater’s recipes for mussels, and for figs with tapenade | Meals

A lot of the cooking on this kitchen is about dinner, or lunch maybe, but it surely can be about small delights, too – good issues to eat earlier than the principle meal of the day or simply for the enjoyable of it.

On the desk this week was a aromatic paste of inexperienced olives and preserved artichokes that we unfold on slices reduce from a herb loaf, and one other of minted ricotta for consuming with fruit. The latter was easy – the white, recent cheese stirred by means of with chopped mint and parsley leaves and – for crunch – finely chopped, ice-crisp radishes. One thing to pile into the open mouths of ripe, casually torn figs or a crisp new season’s pear.

I worth recipes like these for his or her adaptability, but additionally for the truth that they’re a step away from the on a regular basis process of constructing one thing to eat. The addictive olive paste – I may eat it at any time of day – may additionally make a dressing for freshly cooked pappardelle or for spreading on to grilled lamb cutlets. The ricotta can also be a stuffing for flatbread (I heat the slippers of dough on the griddle) or for dressing a salad of chicory, walnuts and crisp new season’s Worcester apples. You possibly can use it as a selection, too, on rye bread, maybe with curls of smoked trout.

I made a lightweight most important dish this week, too: an off-the-cuff lunch of thinly sliced courgettes marinated in lemon and olive oil, capers and parsley, then tossed with tiny orange mussels recent from the steamer. There isn’t actually a mussel season as such, however my ideas flip in the direction of plump, candy shellfish the second summer season is over. Prawns would have been a very good match right here as nicely, or maybe some clams and even rings of squid, their edges blackened from a couple of minutes over a scorching grill.

Mussels, courgettes and parsley

Leaving the thinnest shavings of courgette within the dressing – olive oil, lemon and capers – for half an hour will soften them. A bit of longer won’t damage. You possibly can, if you want, prepare dinner them as a substitute. Pile the skinny slices of courgette right into a steamer or colander and place over a pan of boiling water for 5-8 minutes till tender. Alternatively, toss them in a pan with a splash of olive oil over a average warmth till the courgettes are tender and translucent. Serves 2

courgettes 600g
parsley leaves a very good handful
olive oil 3 tbsp
capers 1 tbsp
mussels 500g
white vermouth a splash

Wipe the courgettes, then use a vegetable peeler to take lengthy shavings from them and drop them right into a mixing bowl. Discard the seedy central core. Roughly chop the parsley leaves – you’ll be able to go away them complete if they’re small and tender – then add to the courgettes with the olive oil and capers. Season frivolously with salt and pepper and put aside someplace cool for a very good half hour.

Scrub the mussels, take away any beards and examine for damaged or cracked shells. Discard any mussels that fail to shut instantly when tapped on the aspect of the sink.

Put the mussels in a big deep pan over a average warmth, pour within the vermouth and canopy tightly with a lid. Prepare dinner for two or 3 minutes till the mussel shells have opened. Take away instantly from the warmth, then pull the mussels from their shells. Drop the mussels into the courgettes and toss the substances gently collectively.

Serve on plates or in shallow bowls.

Figs with inexperienced olive artichoke tapenade

‘Aromatic paste’: figs with inexperienced olive artichoke tapenade. {Photograph}: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

I’ve taken to conserving a jar of this fragrant, pale inexperienced paste within the fridge, saved in a screw-top jar. I take advantage of plain, stoned inexperienced olives right here, however additionally it is price attempting with olives which were marinated in lemon oil. (You’ll be able to typically discover them on the deli counter.) The artichoke and olive tapenade will preserve for a number of days, tightly coated, slightly longer nonetheless if the floor is roofed with olive oil. It makes a very good dressing for pasta, too, although most of mine is unfold in beneficiant waves on to heat oatcakes or chewy sourdough baguettes. Sufficient for 4

For the tapenade:
artichokes 200g, bottled in oil
inexperienced olives 50g, stoned
parsley leaves 7g
lemon ½
olive oil 80ml

For the ricotta:
ricotta 200g
radishes 5
parsley leaves 5g
mint leaves 5g

To serve:
olive or rosemary bread or sourdough 8 small slices
figs 12 medium to massive, ripe

Utilizing a meals processor, scale back the artichokes, inexperienced olives and parsley leaves to a rough paste, including the lemon juice and olive oil, and a grinding of black pepper as you go. Utilizing a rubber spatula, switch to a small serving bowl and refrigerate.

Put the ricotta in a mixing bowl. Finely chop the radishes, parsley leaves and mint and stir into the ricotta, slowly and punctiliously, with slightly salt and black pepper. Put aside within the fridge till wanted.

Toast the olive or rosemary bread (sourdough is sweet in case you can’t discover herb or olive breads), then serve with the olive paste and radish ricotta. Tear the figs open and place on a platter or board.

We purpose to publish recipes for fish rated as sustainable by the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Information

Comply with Nigel on Twitter @NigelSlater

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