While I am no Rachel Khoo and am usually far too lazy to put any thought into what I eat, I am known, from time to time, to show some creative flair in the kitchen.
Pictures at the bottom of the post…
When my very own genuinely French ‘little sparrow’ is not creating her own Anglo-French recipes, I sometimes lift the odd culinary finger and get inspired.
This time it was by way of an apology that I decided to create something special in the run-up to Easter, or Pâques, as it is called in France. One afternoon I decided to leaf through my Nigel Slater recipe book. Now, I like Nigel’s food and he manages to make it all look so simple when he is on television, but when it comes to making a list of ingredients then I would do well to still live in Hammersmith and food shop in Chiswick. When sourcing ingredients in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, despite all the produce available, I think Nigel’s recipes may be a task too far.
Instead of panicking I decide to go back to basics and venture out to see what produce is available locally and determine to get creative through inspiration. Courgettes remain abundant, spring lamb is at the butchers and fresh peas have made an appearance.
So, knowing I want something for Easter and bearing in mind I wish to create something light and spring-like, if not summery, I opt for lamb chops roasted in a marinade of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, red onion, dried thyme, dried oregano, salt and cracked black pepper. To complement the meat I decide on a salad of raw courgette, lemon, garlic, red onion, fresh podded peas, feta cheese, fresh parsley and fresh mint.
I mix the lamb with the marinade of citrus (I used lime another time), dried herbs, onion and garlic, season it well and roast in a medium hot oven for about 15 minutes, until pink and tender. The salad is finely sliced courgettes (I use one of those dodgy mandolins), mixed with more citrus juice, a little olive oil, seasoning, fresh parsley and mint, the fresh peas (steamed for 10 or so minutes) and, finally, crumbled feta cheese.
All of this can also be bought at the supermarket, save maybe the fresh mint and parsley. It is the freshly podded peas that really make the difference and it proved to be such a winner I was asked to make it a second time. For the second version I also found fava beans and though they are a right royal pain to prepare, you do not need many, and the flavour really does add another dimension to the salad.
What is particularly nice is that the citrus infuses the garlic and red onion, making a really tasty and sweet garnish to the lamb. For the French palate, that finds the British idea of lamb with mint sauce so utterly bizarre, the slightly mediterranean/Greek style courgette and feta salad with the fresh mint is a good introductory accompanying dish. The hot meat and cool salad are a perfect combination for a light spring meal…
I call this Springtime Lamb with Zucchini and Feta Salad.