Even though I’m, in all honesty, a better home cook, I appreciate something I can make in a hurry around the holidays.
However, I’m afraid to say I’ve exhausted my usual cold summer repertoire. No more nicoise, caprese, or prosciutto with melon until next year. The following dishes are light in craft, yet heavy in flavour. There’s an easy-to-achieve fish lunch that’s just right for the hotter days. Many can be prepared in the evening before sundown, then quickly assembled the next day.
Tagliolini with clams, zucchini, parsley and garlic
This sauce can be made the day before and left overnight in the fridge. Similarly, using clams from the jar can make it super quick and delicious. Serves 4
slugs 1.5 kg
zucchini 3, small (about 300 grams)
garlic 1 clove
parsley 1 small bouquet
dried pepper ½
Anchovy fillet 2 (optional)
ghee 1 tbsp
Egg tagliolini or the pasta 250 gr
Wash the clams well with several changes of water. Ignore any that are open. Heat a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over high heat, add the clams and 1 tablespoon of the hot water, then quickly cover. Cook for 5 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time, until all the clams have opened.
Remove clams from skillet, reserving liquid. Pick the meat out of the shells as soon as it’s cool enough to handle.
Grate the zucchini coarsely. Chop garlic and parsley. Crush chili.
Cover the bottom of a wide frying pan with olive oil, add the garlic and bring to a boil over medium heat. When hot, add the chilies, parsley and anchovies. When the anchovies have melted, increase the heat and add the zucchini. Cook quickly for 4 minutes, stirring, then pour in the oyster liquid and soften slightly. Finally, add the clams and butter.
Boil the pasta in plenty of salted water and add to the sauce along with a ladleful of the starchy cooking water. Toss well before serving.
Wheat, cucumber and chickpea salad
My local greengrocer sometimes has three different varieties of cucumbers, including a variety worthy of the BFG himself. I make this with the mix if I can find them. Cooking the grains shortly before serving makes for the perfect temperature to bring out the flavors of the vegetables—much better tasting than a pre-made salad. Serves 4
carrot 150 grams, smaller if possible
option 250 gr
garlic 1 clove
Fresh chili ½ (optional)
Yellow cherry tomatoes 150 gr
written or Faro 200 grams (preferably pearl)
Red wine vinegar 50 ml
sugar 1 tsp
cooked chickpeas 400 grams or dried chickpeas 200 grams, soaked overnight, then boiled
Mint leaves To serve, torn
Peel the carrots and cut them into 1 cm pieces. Cut the cucumber into 5 mm slices. Peel the garlic and cut it into two parts. Cut chili. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Cut the tomatoes and put them in boiling water for 20 seconds, then put them in cold water. Boil the carrots for 4 minutes, while you peel the tomatoes. Put them together in a bowl with cucumber, pepper and garlic.
Mix red wine vinegar, 3 teaspoons of salt, 200ml water and sugar. Cover the vegetables with this solution and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
Shortly before eating, boil a large pot of water with a pinch of salt. Boil the wheat until it is tender. This will usually take about 35 minutes. Drain and add to a large salad bowl along with the chickpeas. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the vegetables from the vinegar mixture and toss in some shredded mint leaves and a generous amount of olive oil. Add 2 tablespoons of the vegetable vinegar liquid and check for seasoning.
I keep the vinegar liquid to reuse it with different vegetables the next day, or to use it as a salad dressing.
Grilled green pepper and sardines
Feel free to add fresh jalapeños or other green peppers to the mix if you like that sort of thing. I love this sauce with any oily fish. It’s just as delicious warm or cold after it’s been sitting for a while. Of course, this is a strong competitor to grilling, but I find that cooking sardines under the grill is a really good, fuss-free option. Serves 4
A little green pepper 150g (standard or similar)
garlic ¼ clove
Corsair 1 small bouquet
gear or Lemon 1 juice
Rosemary sprigs 4
Sardines 8, peeled and chopped
Heat the grill. Remove the stems of the peppers. Oil and salt them ever lightly. On the griddle, grill over high heat, turning after 5 minutes, until cooked through and blistered and golden in places.
Finely chop the garlic and roughly chop the cilantro, including the stems. Add the peppers to the cutting board and continue chopping everything together. On your serving plate, add lemon or lime juice, salt, pepper, and more olive oil. taste.
Break the rosemary sprigs in half and place them inside each sardine. Salt and oil lightly before grilling, too, turning after 5 minutes.
Once cooked, put them on a serving platter in the pepper sauce, more juice, and olive oil if appropriate. Cover with a bowl and leave for 10 minutes before serving.
Peaches in red wine
Ripe yellow plums are peeled and left to rest in strong (cheap) red wine syrup. And this does not need anything else. Powerful and refreshing, it’s a great end to a meal and something to catch up on before a nap. Serves 4
red wine 350 ml
Fresh peach 4
sugar 60 grams
Boil the wine with 350ml of water. Wash the plums and boil them for 3 minutes or so before placing them in a bowl of cold water. Use a small knife to peel off their skins. Then cut in half, remove the stones, and set aside in a serving bowl. Sprinkle each peach with a spoonful of sugar and lemon juice. Add the remaining sugar to the wine and reduce it until a third of the volume remains. Turn off the heat and pour it over the peaches. When cool enough, put it in the fridge for at least two hours before serving.
Joe Trivelli is joint chef at the River Café in London (Rivercafe.co.uk).
We aim to publish recipes for fish rated as sustainable before The Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide