Sunday, 29 May 2011

SIMPLE YET ELEGANT FRIDAY SUPPER

A new guest at my dinner table on Friday evening, and therefore an opportunity for me to show off in the kitchen (an activity I almost never shy from). Now that my Friday afternoons have been eroded by teaching piano, Friday supper always has to be straightforward and, preferably, a meal I can make in advance. Thus, aware of my time-poverty on Friday, I made the pudding on Thursday, and prepared the rest of the meal on Friday morning before I began my daily ritual of 'piano pilates', followed by 20 minutes with Claude Debussy, with whom I am developing an extremely intimate relationship at the piano. I also had to go and look at a piano with the parents of one of my students when I finished teaching on Friday, which left me with even less time.....

This simple main course dish is very easy, but looks lovely, with the brightly coloured pepper salsa set against the delicate pink flesh of the salmon. You could serve the salmon cold for a delightful summer lunch or supper dish. The salsa would also go well with grilled chicken or lamb, or with cold cuts and cheese. This comes from the Ottolenghi Cookbook, another great favourite of mine, and a real treasure-trove of unusual and imaginative dishes.

Roast Salmon with Red Pepper and Hazelnut Salsa
serves 4

4 salmon fillets, approx 200g each, seasoned with a squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper

2 red peppers
6 tbsp olive oil
15g hazelnuts (whole, or chopped & roasted)
15g chives, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp cider vinegar

Make the salsa in advance. I roast the peppers over the flame on my gas hob until the skin is black. I then put the blackened peppers in a sealed bowl and leave them for about 10 mins: the steam eases the skin off. But you can also roast them in a hot oven (200C) and then use the same trick to remove the skin.

Dry roast the hazelnuts and chop roughly. (I'm afraid I cheat here and buy pre-roasted, pre-chopped hazelnuts.)

Chop the peppers into 5mm dice. Mix with the hazelnuts, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, chives and cider vinegar. Set aside. Note: this salsa should be served at room temperature rather than straight from the fridge.

Put the salmon in a hot oven and cook until the flesh is just done. Serve with the salsa, boiled new potatoes and a green salad. On Friday, I served the fish with Ottolenghi's French beans and mangetout with hazelnut and orange (recipe here), substituting the French beans for asparagus which is in season right now.

For pudding, we had Nigella's Tender and Damp Lemon Polenta Cake, a great favourite in this house. And easy to make in advance!

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