Seemingly, many food writers, chefs and television cooks always feel the need to re-invent the wheel and to come up with a new spin on a classic dish. But is this always necessary or even desirable?
Most recently I saw a recipe on television that really made my stomach lurch – and it was by a cook whose recipes I usually really like the look of – it was pasta pizza. Essentially cooked spaghetti welded together in a frying pan with a kind of eggy batter, covered with a simple tomato sauce, cheese and stuck under the grill to crisp up on top. It looked disgusting.
Here are the fundamental principles – and a not so shocking revelation – pasta is not pizza at all, pasta is made with similar ingredients to a thin pancake batter. Conversely, pizza is obviously made from a bready type of dough. Both pizzas and pastas are beautiful and adored for their own deliciousness, is there really a need to merge the two together to create something that is not anything like either and honestly not very appetising at all?
That said, I think that there are ways of preparing honest, simple and everyday food in a way that is appealing for yourself and your family. Sometimes, for example, taking a little care to prepare a simple dressing and to taste it before you drizzle it on your food or to select a couple leaves of basil or parsley to pop on top of your plate can be just what you need to do to make your meal a special one.
There is a book that I absolutely adore called Romancing The Ordinary by Sarah Ban Breathnach, which serves up a small bite-sized meditation per day to really focus the mind on the experience and enjoyment of life. The book is divided into months of the year, some entries emphasise the beauty of the season, some offer seasonal recipes, others discuss arts and literature and others muse upon the simple joy of listening to the natural beauty of a birdsong. It’s a really beautiful book and an excellent resource to aid mindfulness, which I believe is something that we could all benefit in many ways from.
In the kitchen, it is often the humblest of ingredients and the simplest of processes which produce the most enjoyable meals and these often become our favourites. But just because you may have a meal like spaghetti every week doesn’t mean to say that the ingredients need always be the same or that the ways in which you prepare the food have to get sloppy, boring and careless.
There are some simple reasons for which I chose to prepare scrambled eggs today for myself with a little more thought and without the use of dairy or gluten or grains. I am currently eight months pregnant and have found that in my third trimester, my morning sickness and nausea have returned but with slightly new challenges than the first trimester.
Naturally, my stomach is a lot more squished now to make room for my baby and therefore it is not always possible to eat certain breads that are difficult to process or a large volume of carbohydrates in one sitting. Similarly, the dairy I would have normally used in scrambled eggs is an animal product, the proteins and fats of which I have noticed I cannot so easily digest and by switching to vegetable fats, I find it is a lot simpler for my body to process. I have also started to spread my meals out into smaller snacks throughout the day, which has certainly helped a lot – if anyone is also experiencing similar issues.
Also, I love vegetables, I don’t know if I can think of one vegetable that I don’t love. I adore asparagus, spinach and avocado with the same fervour and also feel that with their differing degrees of savouriness they each partner scrambled egg beautifully. Similarly, I am of the mind that scrambled eggs can only be bettered by adding some silky smoked salmon. As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of life’s simple joys.
Today I ‘romanced the ordinary’-ness of scrambled eggs to make my smoked salmon scrambled eggs with wilted spinach, grilled asparagus and avocado.
Smoked salmon scrambled eggs with wilted spinach, grilled asparagus and avocado
1 or 2 slices of oak smoked salmon, preferably organic
2 free-range eggs
2 handfuls baby-leaf spinach, washed,
5 asparagus spears
½ an avocado
½ a lemon
2 tbsp Koko coconut milk
1 tsp coconut butter or coconut oil
A pinch of sea salt
Pre-heat the grill to a high heat and place the asparagus spears under the grill.
Add a splash of boiling water from the kettle into a small saucepan, place it over a medium heat and add the pre-washed spinach into the pan.
Slice half an avocado into pieces within the skin and scoop out with a spoon. Spritz the avocado with a little lemon and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Place the avocado onto a serving plate.
Warm a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat with the coconut butter or oil. Whisk the eggs with the coconut milk and tear in small strips of the smoked salmon. Pour the eggs into the frying pan and use a spatula to keep the eggs moving around the pan as they slowly cook through.
Once the eggs are cooked set the pan to one side and drain the wilted spinach in a colander or a sieve. Use the back of a spoon to squeeze out the excess water and add a tiny little pinch of salt.
Serve the asparagus spears, spinach and finally the eggs onto the plate, spritz with a little more lemon juice and tuck in.