I understand that peppers do not grow locally to Wandsworth. I apologise to the servants of seasonal cooking, but very occasionally, I do not feel like parsnips. In winter’s moments of deepest despair, you just want to imagine yourself and your food sun-drenched, covered in olive oil and on the Mediterranean. So here are two salubrious summer recipes for winter, one including the vegetables of the season and one including the vegetables of the summer to come, both will hopefully bring you a much needed uplift from the brumal blues.
Roast Peppers and Pistachio
600g of Sweet Baby Peppers, Good Quality Olive Oil, Two Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar, Salt and Pepper, Pomegranate Molasses, Za’atar (thanks Ottolenghi), Lemon, 250g Pistachio.
1) Turn on your oven and set to 200C.
2) Chop the tops of your peppers, get the seeds and pith, then leave as they are.
3) Line a roasting tray with baking paper, evenly spread the peppers. Cover with some generous glugs of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Season well and slide into the oven for 20-25 minutes. You want the peppers soft and sweet, but also charred and a little gnarly.
4) Whilst the peppers are cooking, fry the pistachio on a medium heat until toasted (about five minutes). When toasted, bash them in a pestle and mortar (or wrap in a tea towel and bash with a rolling pin). Put aside.
5) Put the roasted peppers onto a big plate and top with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses, a good pinch of za’tar, the juice of half a lemon, a little more olive oil never hurts and the crushed, toasted pistachios.
6) Eat. Greedily.
Root Vegetable Salad
2 Organic Carrots (it really does make a difference with carrots), 2 Parsnips, 1 Small Celeriac, 1 Courgette, Parsley, Mint, Lemon, 200g Cashew, Pomegranate seeds, 4 tablespoons Olive Oil, 2 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar, 2 Tablespoon Rose Harissa, 2 Tablespoons Honey.
1) Using a vegetable peeler or a mandoline slicer, peel all of the vegetables into thin strips. Don’t be too precious, set yourself up with the radio on, start peeling and transform those veggies to some delicate and colourful ribbons.
2) Add all the ribbons to a bowl, season with salt and squeeze over a whole lemon. Put in the fridge and leave for an hour.
3) Whilst the veg chill out for a bit, make the dressing. Mix together the olive oil, white wine vinegar, harissa and honey. Season and taste. It should be beautifully balanced, sweet, tangy and with a little bit of heat.
4) Take the veg out of the fridge, add the cashews and pomegranate seeds, then top with the dressing.