it got very cold very suddenly. as a wind-swept fellow who had just had his hood blown off once said “the worst thing about the cold is the wind makes your hat fall off”. i would add to that that the other worst thing about the cold is the cold itself. and that sense, if your a paranoid neurotic, that death is never far off. and pretty though the wintering may be, decay, darkness and a ruinous landscape can wear a girl down. and so, after the first sign of chilblains appeared and the fear began that i may have contracted some fatal illness and would slowly degenerate into a reclusive, ranting, choleric-psychotic, i quickly learned that the only means i had to offset my inevitable fate was the oven. it was put to me that it would be socially and environmentally irresponsible to use the oven as a source of heat, turned on full, with the door open. so my only recourse was to fill the oven with food – a perpetual and unrelenting procession of food. food which would also provide fuel for the broken biological furnace. for my secondary source of heat, i looked to the stove. investing in a griddle pan which i knew, from my learnings and readings, needed to be searing hot. and finally i looked to a recipe which would enable use of all these mechanisms – and this is what i found. grilled asparagus. grilled zucchini. grilled haloumi. and roasted cherry tomatoes. massacring hundreds of birds with one giant culinary stone. held together with some basil oil (unfortunately the basil oil needs to be made in a blender which produces little to no heat…but if you touch the base after the wizzing you will find a little residual warmth from the friction). in the timeless words of jaffar “desperate times call for desperate measures”.
nb. for joy: cooking times may vary depending on competence. this salad requires a lot of preparation. most of which can be done while the tomatoes are roasting in the oven (for 50 minutes)…so i would say an hour is a good approximation. but let us remember the famous words of leo tolstoy who once said “dont quote me”.
i should also add that this recipe was largely lifted from the ottolenghi cookbook which was sent from heaven…and from heaven to me and from me to you. with love and mainly warmth.
2 bunches asparagus
2 zucchinis sliced lengthways
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
couple handfuls of rocket
1 garlic clove
…and for the basil oil
1 bunch of basil leaves
75ml olive oil
1 garlic clove chopped
salt and pepper
first preheat the oven to 170 degrees. put tomatoes with one tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper and a garlic clove in a bowl and toss to combine. lay these skin side down on a roasting tray and put in the oven for 50 minutes.
next put the asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes. then remove and drain and immediately rinse with cold water until they are cold to the touch. put the asparagus in a mixing bowl and toss in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. then place the asparagus on a very very hot griddle pan and grill for a few minutes.
slice the zucchini lengthways, preferably with a mandolin and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. then grill on griddle pan over high heat.
then make the basil oil. put all the ingredients into a blender and blend to combine. taste for seasoning and you might need to add more olive oil depending on the capacity of your blender. some are very limited
finally grill the haloumi on the hot griddle pan. you can make a cross pattern if you have that sort of mathematical mind or a presentationally inclined. then combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. drizzle over some of the basil oil – however much you see fit.
and then serve. i think its good with couscous because most things are. similarly, as always, some pine nuts will elevate this textually to a different level altogether. if you are iron deficient on account of a vegetarian lifestyle you never chose and need some red flesh you can go to your local meat providore and pick up a steak…something i admit to knowing little to nothing about but my photographer will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have relating to steak and the cooking therein thereof (as well as any techincal difficulties you may have…with anything at all…unless of course he is busy in his mind incubation process, in which case you should probably just slowly walk away.)