Holiday time is upon us, and with lots of family and friends to visit over the next month or so, it means that my kitchen gets a little break from the daily pounding it usually gets. I miss cooking every day that I'm not cooking. With new recipes to write and ingredients to experiment with, not cooking every day can become a bit of a pain. Not to me necessarily, but to the family and friends that we visit. Hovering around in somebody else's kitchen is what I do, dropping loud hints to either join in with their cooking or take over completely. You can take the food obsessive out of his kitchen, but not the kitchen from the food obsessive. Or something like that anyway.
Fortunately, the majority of friends and family that I visit tend to be as passionate about their food as I am. And the first visitors on our calendar this past week have been my brother Darren and his wife Marie up in Aberdeenshire. Marie is one of those people that are supremely talented in the kitchen but are either blind to that fact, or too modest to admit it. Consistent and quality, Marie's food is something that I always look forward to so much. Although I did somehow manage to book a slot in her kitchen to bake a cake, I was more than happy to take a rest from cooking knowing that what Marie would serve up would be fantastic. I would love to see her enter a certain TV cookery show as I'm convinced that she would go all of the way. Start the petition here.
I was introduced to a pasta called Orzo by Marie. In a clever little dish that makes you delighted to believe that simplicity and fresh ingredients are the key to a good meal, Orzo means 'barley' in Italian, and these tiny 'barley' shaped pasta shapes combine perfectly in a summer salad. Tossed together with caramelised vegetables and a sharp lemon dressing, we had it with roast chicken and stuffed herb tomatoes. It looked amazing and tasted even better, one of those dishes that you will always keep up your sleeve in the knowledge that it will impress. It is also a dish that will improve with a few hours rest to allow the flavours to develop, and perfect for cold leftover roasts. So Marie, if you are reading this, time to start believing one thing - you know how to cook! Thanks for the Orzo xxx
Orzo with Roasted Vegetables
1 aubergine, diced
1 red and yellow pepper, diced
1 red onion, sliced into chunks
2 garlic cloves, crushed
250g Orzo pasta
Salt and pepper
For the dressing
Juice of 2 lemons
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 - Pre-heat the oven to GM6, 200 degrees C.
2 - In a baking tray, toss together the vegetables, garlic, seasoning and olive oil. Roast for 30-40 minutes turning once, until evenly caramelised all over.
3 - While the vegetables are roasting, boil the pasta for 10-12 minutes. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Add the roasted vegetables and any roasting juices.
4 - Make the dressing by combining the ingredients, then toss all of the vegetables and pasta with the dressing and fresh basil leaves.
5 - Serve this as it is at room temperature, or experiment and add toasted nuts, shaving of cheese, flaked smoked fish, crumbled feta, spring onions, anything you like.