You'll excuse me for my brevity - it's summer. It's hot. The days are long and we're all reveling in it. Especially baby A&N, who wakes with the sunrise. At 4.30am. Full of the joys of life, which is nicer than being a misery guts, but by 9am we're all flagging and in need of a long perfumed bath (or perhaps that's just my tonic).
Dinners have needed to be cooling (no ovens, please), quick and easy (god we're tired), but without sacrificing taste. Cookbooks could be written and sold by the hundreds based on those criteria. But we're too tired to find the right cookbook, so after a bit of head scratching and repeated staring into the fridge for ingredients on hand, this is the result.
A flexible summer salad, adapted to whim/what's available. The key ingredients are an anchovy dressing, a grilled vegetable of some description (aubergine in this case, but just as easily courgette or pepper), and a bit of something from the bacon family (we used some lovely pancetta, from a specialist Italian organic farmer, having a pedigree better than I do. Probably wasted in this salad, but did I mention we're too tired to think creatively?). It was salty and wet, filling and fresh, meaty and crisp. It will make an appearance again, probably in a slightly different guise, probably later this week when we're too tired to think. Again.
A Summer Salad
Serves 2 as a main course with left over for 1 lunch
- 1 aubergine, cut into thin slices
- (touch of olive oil for the aubergines and pan frying)
- 70g of pancetta or bacon
- 1 small gem lettuce or 2 handfuls of baby spinach
- 100g green peas
- 100g broad beans
- handful of sundried tomatoes, rehydrated and roughly chopped (or just chopped if using ones in oil)
- 250g pasta
- 3 anchovies, very finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
- 5 Tbsp olive oil (or 4 Tbsp if using tomatoes in oil)
- 1 clove of garlic, very finely chopped
- Lightly sprinkle the aubergine slices with olive oil, then grill at 180C for about 15 minutes or until tender. Set aside to cool slightly, then cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Pan fry the pieces of pancetta or bacon until nicely crispy, then set aside to cool slightly.
- Briefly boil the peas and broad beans until just tender, then quickly put in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking a preserve the flavor. Drain.
- Boil water for the pasta, and cook until desired consistency. Drain and cool down under some cold running water.
- Chop the lettuce and place in a bowl, and add in the peas and beans as well as the chopped tomatoes. Add the aubergine and pancetta once cooled, as well as the pasta.
- Make the dressing by stirring together the anchovy, vinegar, olive oil and garlic.
- Pour the dressing over the salad bits and adjust for flavoring.