Mustn’t grumble? Well, I am grumbling. It is July. I am cold. It is raining. Again. Play has stopped at Wimbledon. The contents of the veg box are not enough to lift the mood. What is there to do with a bunch of radishes and about 12 broad bean pods, when they cannot be eaten outdoors? I do know, actually. The answer is on page 16 of Ottolenghi’s book (the first one), and I’d be tempted to add some thinly sliced fennel from the box as well or even do some sort of amalgamation with the recipe on page 17 (fennel, feta, pomegranate and sumac).
Which leaves the less exciting contents to contend with. Since this is England, and the weather is acting altogether English, I have decided to work with the unglamourous guys. The ordinary root veg and brassica gang. The sorts of things you want to eat when wrapped in a fleece blanket, which rules out radishes. The potatoes were already roasted, as always, so there are only leftovers. Other fridge stragglers included a few sad looking slices of ham and a sliver of Cheddar. This is sounding more appetising by the minute. Actually, it sounds like a tortilla/frittata, since there are always eggs in my farm box as well.
Meanwhile, the carrots and cabbage sat on the counter, staring at me. I struggled for inspiration. And then it came: coleslaw. Not very exciting, not very Yotam, you may think, but in one of the kitchen drawers are a few gadgets I’ve yet to try and they cried out to me. As a rule, I am not a big kitchen gadget fan, being generally suspicious of manufacturers’ motives. But some gadgets are useful, like a small mandoline and julienne slicer, which are exactly what I have, both from Kuhn Rikon who have not sponsored me in any way to promote these things. I simply love what they make and these were on sale recently. The cabbage was sliced paper thin using the mandoline slicer, and the carrots were equally fine and thread-like thanks to the julienne slicer. Quick and simple, and oh so delicate. No need to drag out the food processor and much easier to clean. There is a bit of waste with the slicers, but not if you save the scraps for the stockpot.
Coleslaw is coleslaw, you may well be saying, but texture makes a world of difference. Shop-bought is nowhere near as elegant. Coleslaw is also much nicer when you dress it yourself, adding mayonnaise judiciously and extra lemon juice for tang.
So pleased was I with the result that I began to imagine two separate salads: an all-carrot carrottes rapées (dressed with about 3 tbsp lemon juice & 2 tbsp rapeseed oil and some salt) and a Mexican, sort of, cabbage concoction using lime juice, mayo and chopped fresh coriander for the dressing (and, dare I say it, the bunch of radishes, also mandolined). That will be for next time… Sticking with the original plan, we had a very pleasant lunch, indoors, feasting on tortilla and coleslaw.
I’ll be working the Salad Bar at the kid’s school fair next Saturday, definitely dishing out this coleslaw. Mine is an exciting exsistence. Hopefully, it will not still be raining.
1 onion, halved and sliced
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
About 2-4 potatoes worth of cooked potatoes, in bite size pieces
Some ham, torn into bite size pieces
Grated cheese, as much or as little as you like, combining different types is allowed
Large handful chopped fresh herbs, optional, such as parsley, basil, chives, oregano…. or a dash of dried thyme
5-6 large eggs, beaten with a splash of milk
Salt and pepper
Unsalted butter and baking parchment for the dish
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line the bottom of a circular dish, pie or tart or quiche, anything but not loose-bottomed, with baking parchment and butter the paper.
In a skillet, combine the oil and onions and cook, stirring every so often, until browned. Season lightly and tip into the prepared dish.
Arrange the potatoes and ham on top, making sure to spread around evenly. Sprinkle the cheese over all.
Season the egg mixture well, stir in the herbs and pour over the potatoes etc. in the dish.
Bake until puffed and golden, 15-20 minutes. Serve hot or warm or at room temperature.
1 small white cabbage
About 3 medium-ish carrots, peeled
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
Mayonnaise, homemade or store bought, to taste
Rapeseed oil, optional
Halve and core the cabbage. Depending on its size, you may want to quarter it so it is the same width as the mandolin blade, or thereabouts. Slice it all and place in a large bowl.
If the carrots are very long, cut to obtain shorter lengths, thinking about the eventual size you want the julienne pieces to be; very long slices are difficult. Julienne the lot and put in the bowl with the cabbage.
Pour over the lemon juice and some salt. Add a dollop of mayo and mix well, with your hands (clean!) or a spoon. How much you use is personal, and will depend on whether you use homemade mayo or not. If you want a really creamy mixture, add more mayo. I added a glug of oil, to help lubricate a bit more since 1 dollop of mayo is not quite enough but I hate coleslaw that is drowning in mayo. This step is optional.
Taste and adjust seasoning. Toss well and serve at room temperature.