How to follow the aubergine....hmm....quite a daunting prospect.
After trawling through the 6 other magazines I've acquired this past couple of weeks I settled on a dish by 'all year round summer' guy - Bill Granger.
The recipe, Spinach, Watercress and Parmesan Cake came courtesy of a feature in July's Sainsbury's Magazine entitled 'Sunny Delights' so was an absolute must given the high temperatures, light evenings and all round holiday vibe we have been enjoying lately in the UK; had we the time I would have loved to pack it in a picnic basket with some crusty bread, chilled rose and a blanket. (Also in the feature was a recipe for baked eggs with three cheeses and tomato salad which looked tasty..another time maybe. It did, however, inspire the tomato and black olive salad below).
The 'cake' was actually a take on a frittata in that it relied on eggs and milk to set the mixture which was later cut into wedges and enjoyed with two salads; one, a simple selection of green leaves and the other, a tomato and black olive salad.
Spinach, Watercress and Parmesan Cake by Bill Granger
1 tbl sp olive oil
15g butter plus extra for greasing
2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
100g young leaf spinach
1 x 75g bag watercress, tough stems removed
a whole nutmeg, for grating
6 large eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 180c, fan 160c, gas 4. Heat the oil and butter in a pan over a medium heat. Add the leeks and cook gently until soft; about 10 mins.
2. Butter the inside of a round ovenproof dish, about 25x6cm deep. Add the greens to the leeks and season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and a grating of nutmeg. Cover and leave to wilt for five minutes. Using tongs, remove the leek and greens from the pan and put in a food processor. Reduce the liquid in the pan to 1 tablespoon and add to the greens. Then add the milk and eggs and blend until almost smooth. Pour into the greased dish and scatter with parmesan. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.
I swapped the leeks for an onion and few celery stalks (plus inner leaves) as I had them handy already and figured they would still offer the oniony/herbal hit provided by using the green and white parts of leeks.
I also forewent the parmesan in exchange for organic British cheddar as vegetarian parmesan is now only available sporadically in my local supermarket - much to my annoyance. The cheddar worked very well, though.
When transferring the wilted leaves to the food processor (step 2 of the recipe) there was no liquid left in the pan to reduce, therefore, this stage was not necessary to me in my kitchen.
The final product was light as air due to the ingredients being whizzed in the food processor which, incidentally, allowed the flavours from the vegetables and spice to permeate throughout the entire dish making the frittata intensely flavoured with iron rich leaves and mellow spicy nutmeg.
Tomato and Black Olive Salad
2 large plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
100g dry black olives, roughly chopped
Sunblush tomatoes (approx 8 quarters), roughly chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tbl sp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbl sp red wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
1. Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix thoroughly, season to taste. Adjust seasoning and oil/vinegar ratio according to personal preference. Leave to sit at room temperature for at least an hour to allow all the flavours to mingle and settle in.
The tomato salad gave balance to the soft, milky frittata with the acidity of the British tomatoes and red wine vinegar ensuring any richness was promptly cut through without removing any of the comfort factor.
This cake will definitely be called upon again as part of light brunch on a lazy Sunday or served cold straight from a picnic basket - a cake by name but virtuous by nature...perfect!