Last time I was in McGregor I got a vicious virus that was stalking the little village. Hit my stomach in the middle of the night and laid me low for almost three weeks. The upside is I lost a couple of pounds, the down that I couldn’t bear to look at food. I also had no energy and was generally flat, miserable, negative and cranky. Not a good combo. Our pal Tracey is here from the UK and we’ve repaired to McG to repair. Me from the virus that morphed into a chest infection, and her from a year of challenge that saw her embarking on a hell of a journey. That is her story to tell one day – but suffice to say she pushed herself to the limit and needed some time doing nothing much but listening to her iPod through her Dr Dre Beats headphones. Apparently these are the new big thing in headphones, and I knew nothing about them: so I am officially old. (Side bar – love how Dre saw that Apple made terrible headphones and turned that into a business.)
Today’s post then is about the little bits and pieces that I craved and that we made to eat in the sweltering sun. All my old favourites came creeping back in. And very welcome they were too.Cannelini and Tuna Salad
I love canned tuna. If I were ever to become a vegetarian again – it would be the thing I would miss most. Mostly I like to eat it cold – i.e. not in a hot sauce. Except for the spaghetti sauce that involves tuna, lemon and Parmesan cheese. But that’s for another time.
So I drained a can of light meat tuna and rinsed off a can of cannelini beans. Mixed them together and grated a lemon’s worth of zest onto them, followed by the juice of half a lemon. Over that I poured a good dollop of olive oil, added a crushed clove of jumbo garlic, a pinch of smoked salt and 10 grinds of black pepper (I have no idea why I always count them, but I do) and then set it aside to steep at room temperature for 15 mins.
Then I chopped what I could find in the fridge: cucumber, purple salad onions, chives and celery (using both stalk and leaf). I found a heel of stale goats milk pecorino and grated that on an old-fashioned cheese grater into those small little curls. Tossed the whole lot into the steeping bean/tuna mix. Added another dollop of oil and served it on one of my beautiful Moroccan plates. With a lemon wedge. Bravissima.Honey Figs and Salty Cheese
Our trees are producing the most perfect green figs. It’s so exciting – they taste just like the ones you get in Italy: honeysweet and sticky. People have been rolling their eyes at that description – but it is true. They don’t need anything else but to be cut open and served with a wedge of salty cheese. Then eaten with your fingers. The skins too. Perfect with a chunk of bread, a bit of prosciutto and a glass of cold white wine. Belissima.
My pals and next-door neighbours, Rob and Natasha, came over for our customary Campari and lemonsoda catch up. In honour of Likke, Natasha’s mom, being over from Holland – we threw a couple of snacks together. Hummus – which we bought at the Superspar in Robertson and fancied up with a sprinkle of fresh dukkah and a splash of local peppery green olive oil. And Tzatziki that T improvised from what we had in the fridge. Served it with salted crisps, some slices of carrot and Natasha’s home preserved Rosemary Lemon Olives, spiked with a peppy locally grown mint and sprinkled with nasturtium capers.
250ml good quality yoghurt – we used Greek Double Cream
1 elephant garlic clove – squished against a board with a knife side
finely diced cucumber – half or quarter – depending how chunky you like your tatziki
finely sliced mint or dill or both
thin strips or zest ½ or ¼ lemon
juice half lemon
couple glugs olive oil
Fold the whole lot together – season with salt and fresh ground pepper and allow to stand in the fridge for 20 mins or so. Give it another stir before serving and maybe a drizzle more oil.
A cool wind sprang up – after a long hot afternoon. We each had two icy cocktails and chatted well into the twilight. Then they headed for home and we polished off what was left whilst watching Baz Luhrman’s take on ‘The Great Gatsby’. Una serate perfetta.
(All images copyright campari&sofa.)