After a disastrous start to the bank holiday weekend, hunger set in again and I decided to give Simon Rimmer a second chance and I wasn’t going to make things easy for myself. I was about to take on three of his The Accidental Vegetarian recipes. With a rum and tropical juice in hand, and some great soul tunes blaring through the radio, I felt I could tackle anything.
Halloumi and I were first introduced circa 2004 when I was living with my lovely and very understanding flatmate. If you’re a food lover and non-stop eater, I would highly recommend living with her. She is the kind of person who enjoys good food and always buys nice things to eat, but has the will power (otherwise known as stupidity in my book) to leave things in the fridge/cupboard half eaten e.g. chocolate bars, pieces of meat, nice bread, bags of tortilla chips; and I saw it as my duty to help her finish these. She didn’t even have to ask, I would just selflessly hoover up all her ‘leftovers’.
I can’t remember when exactly I came across halloumi, these were heady days of living in London, going from workday to workday, cocktail to cocktail, late night to late night but she may have prepared a salad for me once with grilled halloumi, and it was delicious. As I get older, I definitely crave more savoury food than sweet and halloumi is the epitome of my cravings – the salty, almost bitter sensation, which goes very well with a warm flavoured red wine.
Having said this, I rarely buy it, usually favouring cheeses such as buffalo mozzarella or feta so I’m starting to see that this challenge I’ve set myself will force me to experiment with foods I tend to ignore.
Simon’s recipe was incredibly simple. All I had to do was slice the cheese, dredge it in seasoned and spiced flour and then fry them for a minute on each side.
They were then served sprinkled with watercress and drizzled with a lemon-dijon-vinegar dressing which my husband helped prepare (as I was juggling the frying of two foodstuff and was desperately trying not to set fire to the kitchen).
Feeds 4 according to the recipe, but as 2 people we managed it pretty well…
Sticky rice and peanut balls
For some reason, my husband sniggers every time I say the name of this recipe…childish.
They were so simple to make, although in order to blend half of the rice, I did have to add some water so the blades would have something to hold onto. I drained this afterwards, but this might be why they weren’t as crispy as I’d hoped. Add to that the fact that I also don’t own a deep fat fryer – I fried them in as much oil as I could bring myself to pour into a frying pan.
They browned really quickly, but my tip would be to use 200g of peanuts rather than 150g as I had two balls left over with no nuts on them.
They tasted amazing and we wolfed down 8 each (9 if you count the nutless ones), dipped in sweet chilli sauce and washed down with a nice glass of perry.
I had never come across favetta before and was pleasantly surprised. The only thing that was pretty time consuming was shelling the broad beans after they were blanched in boiling water then plunged into ice cold water. There was no point asking my husband to help with this as he gets bored sorting freshly-picked blackberries. However, I can see why it needed to be done and it meant that the favetta had a nice sweet flavour and vivid green colour.
It complemented the halloumi perfectly, and I can already think of other ingredients it might suit e.g. a meaty fillet of pan fried salmon or smeared over a brucsetta and topped with a folded slice of parma ham.
All in all a delicious dinner, which we ended by sharing a large bar of Cadbury’s fruit and nut! Thank you Simon, all is definitely forgiven. We had a meatless meal and didn’t even miss it.