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Light Salad with Rustic Bread

Notes from a veggie kitchen

Saturday 31/3/01

Suddenly, I find that dinner for four has turned into dinner for two. Just me and my eldest daughter (13). Still I can pretty much do what I was planning, which was a light salad with some rustic bread:

For the two of us I took:


* 4 small tomatoes - on the vine
* 8 small - medium closed cup mushrooms
* 1/2 medium onion
* Rock salt
* Balsamic vinegar
* Cider vinegar
* Flavoured extra virgin olive oil
* Fresh Basil
* Fresh chives
* Black pepper
* A small loaf of rustic bread (I used a round cheese bread - a walnut ring is good too)


Put bread in a very low oven to warm.
Slice the onion and separate into rings.
Put in a shallow dish and just cover with the cider vinegar.
Add a teaspoon of Balsamic vinegar and leave at room temperature.
Slice the tomatoes and lay flat on a plate or board.
Sprinkle with rock-salt (3-4 grains each slice) leave for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile heat a little oil in a heavy pan until it goes thin, but not too hot.
Slice the mushrooms and put in the pan with a couple of grinds of black pepper.
Turn the heat down as low as possible and let the mushrooms sweat for 10-minutes until soft.

To serve, arange the tomatoes, on a plate, then drain and arange the rings and finally the warm mushrooms. Grind some black pepper to taste and sprinkle with finely chopped fresh basil and chives to taste. Drizzle flavoured extra virgin olive oil over everything and serve with the warm bread and have the oil on the table for people to help themselves to more to dip their bread in.

The whole thing took about 20 minutes from start to serving . Kara enjoyed it and proceeded to tell me how badly her school friends ate living on a diet of junk-food. How smug we felt.

Hints: I always decant some olive oil into a small bottle and put in two peeled cloves of garlic and a sprig of rosemary or lavender from the garden so as to have some for dressings.. After a few days (and it improves with age) the oil is nicely flavoured. You can of course buy flavoured oils but they are so expensive and it's so easy to make. Basil, chives and other herbs live in pots on the kitchen windowsill in winter and from the garden in summer.

Dave Wardell

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