Back in the day, I lived in a little unheated flat in what is now an unaffordable area – Primrose Hill. On Saturdays I would cycle down to the northern end of Camden High Street and buy bread, fish and vegetables to cook on the Baby Belling. An avid follower of Elizabeth David but without much cash, I had once read a recipe of hers which called for squashy tomatoes and each week Mr Smith would hand over a bargain bag of them which he had saved for me. Don’t really buy squashy tomatoes any more but this recipe benefits from one which is very ripe.
- Ingredients: 100g Spanish rice (Valencia: Bomba Paella), 75g Halloumi cheese, one medium/half a large onion, a cup of fresh or frozen peas, one large ripe tomato, approximately 250ml liquid, the fleshy leaf of a fennel bulb, a little saffron, chopped fresh herbs – marjoram//thyme and parsley, half a mild chilli, a clove of garlic, crushed, approximately 20ml olive oil, olives, salt and pepper.
- Other choices: green beans, broccoli florets, asparagus, peppers
Put the oil in a pan ( good if you can use this in the oven too) on a medium heat with the chopped marjoram, thinly sliced fennel, garlic, chilli, salt, pepper and the halloumi cut into 1cm cubes. Stir this around for a few minutes, then empty it out onto a plate, leaving most of the oil in the pan. Now add the sliced onion and when it has gone translucent, the rice. You can put in a few strands of saffron now too.
Let the rice cook away until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Test the rice and, if virtually cooked (tender grains) add the frozen peas. If using fresh ones, put them in a minute or two earlier than this. Green beans / broccoli might need a precook as they are often tougher than you think. Now is the time to add back the halloumi mixture. Stir around with a handful of chopped parsley and a few olives. Then move the pan into a medium oven for 5-10 minutes to dry off a little and allow the flavours to melt together.
Serve when ready.
Then relax, maybe listen to John Martyn and Beverley singing Primrose Hill ?