It seems as though we may very well have had our summer - but in the two days of sunshine that came our way just recently, it sparked off a desire for Mediterranean-style eating.
Ever hopeful that we might get a day or so of sun before winter is upon us again, I thought I'd share the best of the recipes.
Now you know how much hubby loves his smoked mackerel - and I do too, but to a slightly lesser degree. Hubby will eat his smoked mackerel any way he can get it - hot or cold - but I find that a hot mackerel dish will repeat on me for a month of Sundays. Now for all that repeated burping causes some hilarity amongst the family, it does get a bit much when it's followed by terminal heartburn - or is that too much information?
As a result, the first dish of our Mediterranean week is smoked mackerel, served cold, with an accompanying warm Mediterranean Potato Salad and a tomato & red onion salad. If you prefer your mackerel hot, then by all means warm it up - it won't make a jot of difference to the dish.
I spotted the Mediterranean Potato Salad in the BBC Good Food Magazine and it ticked all the right boxes for both son & heir and myself. I wasn't too sure about hubby, though, as we all know his relationship with potatoes isn't great. Still, I crossed my fingers that the use of Jersey Royal new potatoes, together with the roasted red peppers and black olives in the dish (both of which are particular favourites), paired with mackerel might do the trick.
Well, it almost did. It was the garlic that did for him - and oddly, it seemed to be the pairing of garlic and tomato. Still, there's no accounting for taste - and it will be easy to leave the garlic out next time.
Both son & heir and I really liked the warm salad. It was a lovely departure and a welcome change from using Jersey Royal New Potatoes in a traditional way (i.e. with butter and mint). I have also taken to using English rapeseed oil instead of olive oil, now that we have found a couple of suppliers that provide affordable rapeseed oil. This was, pretty much, my first voyage with using the oil in a salad sense - and we like it. Rapeseed oil has a much nuttier flavour than olive (not surprisingly) and I've found that it blends very easily with Mediterranean style flavours. Well worth doing, when you consider all the health benefits of rapeseed oil over olive oil. If you thought olive oil was good for you, have a look at a comparison between the two. With half the saturated fat of olive oil and a higher flashpoint which means it can be used in roasting and stir frying, it wins my vote!
It did occur to me, that the salad could be made even more Mediterranean style, by using sun dried tomatoes instead of the tin of tomatoes - but I have yet to try this theory out!
The Mediterranean Potato Salad as it stands, is simplicity itself to make and the sauce can be put together as the potatoes cook. Paired with the simple tomato & red onion salad and an even simpler smoked mackerel, this really is a meal that takes minutes to prepare - and is good for you on all sorts of levels!
MEDITERRANEAN POTATO SALAD (feeds 3)
1 tbsp olive oil (I used Rapeseed Oil)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove (optional, leave it out of you're sensitive to garlic)
1-2 tsp oregano, either fresh or dried
200g tinned cherry tomatoes (I used the other half for breakfast the next day!)
100g roasted red peppers, sliced (I used them from a jar and rinsed off the vinegar)
300g new potatoes, halved if large
25g black olives, sliced
handful of basil leaves, torn.
1. In a small saucepan, heat the oil and add the onion. Cook on a gentle to medium heat for 5-10 minutes until soft.
2. Add the oregano and continue to cook for another minute.
3. Add the tomatoes and peppers, season well and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain well, mix with the sauce and serve warm, sprinkled with olives and basil.