Sunday, April 14, 2013
FOR YOUR FIVE A DAY
We did quite a bit of entertaining over the Easter holidays, and the most challenging aspect of choosing a menu for me, was choosing what vegetables to serve. I want veggies that complement the main dish, and that are a little bit different - side dishes that look and taste as though you have gone to some effort.
We invited my husband's family over for Saturday evening, and there were 16 of us eating - I love having a large number for dinner as it gives me a chance to try out new recipes and allows for some experimenting too (my theory being that if there are enough people present, someone will like every dish!!). On this occasion the recipe I tried was Nigella's Roast Red Onions with Basil (from Nigellissima) and I threw together this Asparagus, Peas and Sugar Snaps with Pesto and both went down really well. The onions were a useful addition to the repertoire as they can wait out of the oven happily for at least an hour - which is wonderful when there is pressure for space in the oven. They were delicious, the basil being an unexpected flavour combination (I would usually go with thyme or sage with onion dishes) that worked very well - and another bonus, they were lovely reheated the next day.
The pea dish was also a great choice for entertaining, as the asparagus stem can be cooked ahead of time, along with the peas - and then a final few minutes on a high flame will reheat them and cook the asparagus tips and the sugar snaps - easy peasy (please forgive me for the awful pun - sometimes I just can't help myself, it's an affliction!!).
The two side dishes worked well together as the mellow round flavours of the onions contrasted well with the fresh crispness of the greens. I also served Piedmont Peppers and Butternut Squash with Blue Cheese, and they all worked really nicely.
Asparagus, Peas and Sugar Snaps with Pesto
All I did was, break off the woody part of the asparagus stem and discard (you could of course save them for soup).
I then cut off the tips and put them aside.
I chopped up the stems and allowed them to cook in a tiny amount of water for a few minutes, then I added a small packet of frozen peas and cooked until defrosted.
At this stage you can put aside to cool down and then reheat later.
When ready to serve add the sugar snaps and asparagus tips and steam for a minute or two.
Remove from the heat and add a tablespoon of pesto.
This is nice served with some Parmesan shavings (if I hadn't forgotten them!!!)
Roast Onions with Basil
based on Nigella Lawson's recipe
1 kg Onions (I used pink - they were so pretty)
100ml Olive oil
Pinch Caraway seeds
1 tsp Maldon Salt (or your favourite)
2 tsp Good balsamic vinegar
1 pkt basil leaves (fresh)
Preheat oven to 180 C
Quarter the onions and then peel them.
Place them in a roasting tin, and cover with the olive oil.
Scatter with the caraway seeds (Nigella uses fennel, but I'm not a fan)
Roast for about 1 hour, or until totally cooked through.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
Season with the salt and vinegar.
You can allow to stand for up to an hour in a warm kitchen.
When you are ready to serve scatter the torn basil leaves over the onions.