I’m not sure what the equivalent of an Indian Summer is in describing a wonderful sunny day in Spring. We’ve been blessed in early May with some serious sunny weather so it’s time to set aside the stews and lighten up the menu a little.
This weekend I decided to take advantage of our good fortune and make a salad involving cauliflower cous cous. At the last minute we spotted a recipe in the Waitrose magazine which roasted feta cheese and the decision was made for me. I love the Mediterranean range of flavours with peppers, cous cous, feta, olive oil, pomegranate, mint and lemons. Any combination tastes wonderful. It was a nice surprise to be able to add a new way of cooking one of the ingredients to the portfolio. Even better, with a busy week to come, to prepare a few meals in advance.
I started by roasting some peppers, sweet potato and red onion. This is such a versatile combination which adds sweetness and umami to soups, salads, pasta, and filled flatbreads. I like to make a great big roasting pan worth. At a reasonably high temperature I roasted them, turning occasionally. I like the edges browning and to go easy on the oil. The only additions are olive oil, salt and pepper. I may add some carrot or mushrooms depending on what’s in the fridge.
The I have blogged about before – it is just great and so easy.
I also roasted some tomatoes – taking out the seeds and having a few different coloured fruit to add some interest to the salad. Again, just a little oil and seasoning and then a longer slower cook which concentrates the flavours while preserving the presentation.
The feta cheese is just cut carefully into cubes and then tossed gently in some lemon olive oil with some lemon zest. Just the smell is fantastic and it was with some trepidation that I put it on a baking liner and put it in a 180 degree oven for 15 minutes. It looks like it is going to melt but somehow it holds its shape and gets some great colour. The impact is some light caramelisation and a change to the texture – a slight crust and a drier crumbly texture.
I also cooked some salmon in advance – getting tomorrow’s dinner ready at the same time. After everything has cooled off I can assemble the ingredients. It starts with a layer of torn little gem leaves with chopped spring onions, olives and cucumber tossed in the oil from the olives. I mixed some of the roasted vegetables in with the cous cous. Finally I topped it with some roasted tomatoes and the feta cubes. One last drizzle of the lemon oil and we are good to go.
The combination has the crunch of the lettuce and cucumber and then the light cous cous interspersed with little explosions of sweet and earthy roasted vegetables. The tomatoes add some real acidity and intense flavour and then finally the salty zesty feta contrasts beautifully. With a glass of cold and crisp Gavi from the wonderful Naked Wines stable in golden evening sunlight it was a lovely way to end the weekend.