I read an interesting article in last week's Guardian by the one and only Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Hugh is a man who has taken a dream and turned it into reality. What he does in his work with food is exemplary, and I have so much respect for him. If I could turn myself into somebody, it would not be David Beckham or Brad Pitt - Hugh in all of his unpretentious glamour would be my number one choice.
Back to the article, he discussed the pleasures of the British cobnut. This time last year, I was scampering up my own cobnut tree in Leeds, battling with the squirrels and succeeding in filling a few jars with the beautiful fresh nut. Now that I have moved, I don't have that pleasure and I miss it dearly. The squirrels on the other hand had a party the day that I left.
With no cobnuts or hazelnuts to hand, I had a go at tweaking one of his recipes. It was an amazing salad of pork sausage, bacon and cobnuts. I changed it to almonds, crisped up a few sage leaves and instead of pork sausage, I used up some fantastic Orkney lamb sausages that my butcher makes. I also had a small bag of chick pea shoots which scattered the salad with a bit of health and vitality. All in all, it made for a brilliant Saturday lunch, with hot crunchy bacon and almonds combining perfectly with the pepper hot sausages, rocket and aromatic sage. And the squirrels may have escaped with my pilfering this year, but with a few hazel trees already spotted up here in the North East, my time will come in 2008....
Warm Salad of Sausage, Bacon, Almonds and Chick Pea Shoots
4 good quality lamb sausages (or your sausage of choice)
5 rashers of streaky bacon, sliced into pieces
A good handful of almonds or hazelnuts
10 sage leaves
2 or 3 handfuls of rocket leaves or watercress
2 handfuls of chickpea shoots, or cooked chickpeas
For the dressing
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
1 - Heat some olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the bacon and cook until crisp and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and put aside on kitchen paper.
2 - Add the sausages to the bacon fat and cook gently until cooked right through. Remove and slice into diagonal pieces.
3 - Keeping the pan on the heat, drain some of the fat from the pan then add the bacon and sausage along with the almonds and sage leaves. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the almonds have turned golden and the sage has crisped slightly.
4 - Make the dressing by combining all of the ingredients and mixing well together.
5 - Dress the plates with the hot ingredients, then scatter over the rocket leaves and chickpea shoots, followed by a good drizzle of the mustard dressing. I served it with some simple toasts, rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil.