Five easy recipes to make on holiday
With their often-limited scope, holiday rental kitchens present the perfect opportunity to get back to basics with fresh, seasonal ingredients prepared with as little fuss as possible.
Holiday cooking needs to be something special, but if you’re like me, you’ll find everything in the local supermarket exciting. Go on an exploratory first shop, and come back with whatever looks good: olive oil and vinegar, chicken and eggs, tomatoes, fresh garlic, sweet fruit and salty snacks … Make sure you also track down the local bakery and the best place to get good booze.
Holiday cooking also needs to be lazy – something you can manage to knock up after a soporific afternoon by the pool. All of these recipes are throw-in-the-oven and get-on-with-that-book numbers, designed to be tweaked according to whatever you have to hand.
When you’re out and about, keep an eye open for anything growing wild near to where you’re staying: low-hanging fruit, wild fennel, lavender, thyme, rosemary and bay – it’ll all enliven what you cook.
Warm tomato mess
This is a celebration of tomatoes. And cheese. And good bread. It’s a sort of panzanella-meets-tray bake, and perfect for a lazy summer’s evening: you can use any leftover bread you might have from the baker, good, fruity local olive oil and fresh, juicy garlic.
1 tbsp capers or olives
3 garlic cloves, crushed
A few bay leaves
Two slices of bread, torn into chunks
Salt and black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
A handful of oregano
2 handfuls of basil, torn
100g soft white cheese (goat or cow), torn into chunks
50g hard cheese, such as parmesan
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Cut the tomatoes in half across their circumference and put in a roasting tray or ovenproof dish. Throw in the capers, garlic, bay, bread, salt and pepper and drizzle over the oil. Give everything a thorough mix with your hands to combine all the flavours and then put in the oven for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and give everything a good toss around, freeing any tomatoes that have become stuck to the tray and distributing the ingredients easily.
2 Shake over the vinegar. Toss in the oregano and half the basil, then put the torn cheese over the top of everything. Scatter over the parmesan and return to the oven for 8 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
3 Remove from the oven, tear up the remaining basil and scatter on top, drizzle wth more olive oil and serve with a large glass of chilled red wine.
Roast chicken with bitter leaves and stone fruits
This dish has it all – succulent, golden roast chicken; caramelised bitter leaves; and sweet, plump summer stone fruits – all married together with aromatic herbs.
It’s designed to be adaptable: you could easily substitute the chicory for another locally available bitter leaf, or the cherries for apricots or plums. I like to use herbs such as fennel and tarragon for a lovely blast of aniseed, with oregano or marjoram, some or all of which are available all over Mediterranean Europe and in the UK. A glass of rosé wouldn’t go amiss with this …
1 tbsp olive oil
2 fresh bay leaves
1 garlic clove, minced
6-8 bone-in organic chicken pieces (I like thighs and drumsticks)
2 heads of bitter leaves (chicory or radicchio), halved
3 shallots, halved
A glass of rosé wine
A handful of cherries, or an equivalent amount of other stone fruit
Wild fennel, tarragon, oregano or other fragrant herb (better with anise herbs)
Salt and black pepper
1 Preheat the oven to 170C/335F/gas 3½. Gently heat the olive oil and the butter together over a medium heat in a frying pan, then add the bay and garlic and swirl around for a couple of minutes to flavour the fat, being careful not to burn the garlic.
2 Season the chicken with salt, then brown, skin-side down, until deeply golden all over – 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken to a roasting tray or any ovenproof dish you can find in the kitchen.
3 If the fat is still in good nick (if not wipe out and use some more olive oil), keep the pan on the gas, turn the heat down slightly and put the chicory, lemon half and shallots cut-side down in the pan. Cook for 5 minutes or so, until caramelised. Nestle these into the roasting tin with the chicken and squeeze the caramelised lemon over everything.
4 Deglaze the pan with the glass of rosé wine, then reduce the liquid by half. Pour the remainder into the tin. Add the cherries, herbs and a glass of water. Season with black pepper and a little more salt. Cover with foil or a lid. Roast for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and cook for 20‑25 more minutes, or until the liquid has reduced and the thighs are tender. Remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes. Garnish with more herbs and drizzle over a little more oil.
5 Serve with lentils tossed with creme fraiche and a mustard and green beans vinaigrette.
Cherry and blue cheese crostini
Makes about 10 crostini
Half a french stick or ciabatta loaf, sliced into rounds about 2cm thick
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
100ml red or balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
100g cherries, halved and destoned
150g gorgonzola or other local ripe, creamy blue cheese
Fresh herbs (I like oregano, marjoram and wild fennel flowers)
1 Set the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Toss the bread in the olive oil and season with a little sea salt. Put these in a roasting tray and roast for 10-12 minutes, until they are golden and crisp.
2 Put the vinegar and sugar in a frying pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the vinegar for a few minutes, until it has a thicker, more syrupy consistency. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
3 Toss the cherries in the vinegar reduction. Spread the crostini with blue cheese and top with the cherries. Garnish with the herbs/fennel flowers and serve.
Grilled roast peaches on toast with fresh cheese, local honey and thyme
This ensemble works beautifully as a breakfast or brunch dish, afternoon or early evening snack, or even as dessert/cheese course. I love using the flat peaches, if I can find them, as I think they have a more assertive, sweet flavour. You can skip the grilling of the peaches if you’re feeling particularly lazy, though I like the way the heat caramelises and concentrates the flesh. Look out for some local honey with the honeycomb still in the jar, as it adds extra texture.
Makes 4 slices
Two ripe peaches, cut across the circumference and destoned
Four slices of bread
4 tbsp fresh cheese, such as ricotta
Local honey, preferably with honeycomb
Thyme, oregano or lavender
1 Set your grill to high (or use a griddle pan over a high heat). Rub the peaches with a dash of olive oil, season with a pinch of salt and put under the grill, cut-side up, for about 5 minutes. At this point, put the bread under the grill too and grill until you have toast.
2 Remove the peaches and toast from the grill and allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then spread the toast with the fresh cheese, top with the peaches and scoop out some honey/honeycomb to spoon on top. Finish with fragrant fresh herbs such as thyme, lavender or oregano.
Cherry and olive oil clafoutis
I love this recipe, because it is at once uncomplicated and special. Clafoutis is a classic, but it’s usually made with melted butter. I find that the olive oil-rich batter bakes into a smooth, almost fudgy custard that cloaks the roasted cherries, whose dark juices bleed out a little during baking.
50ml local olive oil, plus extra, for garnishing
1 tbsp demerara sugar
100g white flour
A pinch of salt
100g golden caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
250ml whole milk
Black pepper (optional)
Basil leaves, torn
1 Pit the cherries. Preheat the oven to 170C/335F/gas 3½ and grease a baking dish with olive oil. Scatter the demerara sugar evenly over the bottom of the dish.
2 Sift the flour into a bowl with the salt and sugar. Beat the eggs into the mixture until you have a smooth paste, then gently mix in the olive oil. Gradually add the milk, whisking until you have a wet batter the consistency of double cream, with no lumps.
3 Put the cherries in the baking dish and gently pour over the batter. Put the dish on a baking sheet, if you can find one, and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until puffed and golden – just set, but still wobbly. Leave to settle for 10-15 minutes, then serve warm with a little drizzle of olive oil, some black pepper and some torn basil leaves scattered on top.
Source: The Guardian