29 May 2011

Roast Vegetable and Tuna Salad

The sun, I fear, is nothing more than a myth. A rumour. A figment of some deluded soul's imagination.

I honestly don't know how much rain has fallen here since the beginning of April. I don't know how many days of dreariness we've had. Sun beams that actually reached the ground in two months? I'll guess three. The final numbers aren't out yet, but I won't be surprised if 2011 turns out to be one of the wettest, if not *the* wettest since they started keeping such records in this area.

It's rained so much that I see thin strokes of fuzzy green on the pavement. With indoor humidity at about 83 per cent according to the wall gadget, the air seems thick and chilly. My Monet print umbrella is my most prized possession. More valued than my kitchen scale, more used than my merlot-hued patent leather near-stiletto boots, more needed than my Blackberry.

That said, the grass is lush and green and my dahlias, irises, bleeding hearts and indigo are thriving. But those are the only real positives I can think of. Oh...and I didn't have to wash winter's salt off my car.

I usually don't moan about cloud or rain, but enough is enough. Really, it is.

It would be nice to feel the sun's warm for more than an hour or so every so many days...or weeks.

The problem with weather like this is I'm still mentally stuck in wintery foodish themes. I'm still roasting meats and making stews. This just doesn't seem right for late May in the northern hemisphere.

I just can't get excited about frizzy salad greens or light broths...not when it's as grey as slate and the sound of rain coming down the chimney reminds me of Jacob Marley's clanging chains.

In hopes of kickstarting my summer cooking, I've taken one of my usual winter staples -- roasted Mediterranean vegetables -- and hoped to coax back the sun with the simple addition of another Mediterranean item: tuna.

Generally I roast a good quantity of vegetables (sometimes adding courgettes (zucchini), or fennel) and keep it in the fridge as a side to go with roast birds or beast, as an omelet stuffing or in wraps, but this time I'm using the same mix, cold, for a salad base.

I prefer to roast the vegetables (well, fruit) separately as I don't want the tomatoes' juices to run into the aubergines, but if you'd rather roast them together, that's fine. I don't pay attention to how much of anything I add to the vegetables--it's totally to taste.

The salad itself is quite adaptable--I use tinned tuna out of convenience, but you can use grilled or seared tuna. If you don't want to use fish, you can use poached eggs, grilled pork or chicken, tinned chickpeas or even cheese such as feta or halloumi.

Roasted Vegetable Salad with Tuna
Serves 4-6

For the tomatoes
3-4 ripe tomatoes, cut into slim wedges
olive oil
red wine
balsamic vinegar
dried basil
chilli flakes, to taste
1 red onion, cut into slim wedges
6 garlic cloves, with papers left on

For the aubergine/eggplant:
1 medium aubergine (eggplant), skin on, diced into 1.25cm (0.5") pieces,
olive oil
ground coriander
dried basil
garlic powder
onion powder
chilli flakes, to taste

2 Roasted peppers, sliced
red wine vinegar
canned tuna (see notes)
black olives
black pepper

Line two cookie sheets with tin foil and set aside. Preheat oven to 170C/350F.

For the tomatoes
Mix the tomatoes with olive oil, red wine, a splash of balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, dried basil and chilli flakes. Let sit for at least an hour if you can.

Scatter the tomatoes onto the other tray and nestle in the onions and garlic. Pour the macerating liquid over the lot.

For the aubergine
Mix all the aubergine's ingredients together with the fruit (yes, it's a berry). and tumble onto one of two trays.

Put both trays into the oven and roast for 30-45 minutes, until cooked but not burnt. One tray may take longer to cook than the other, if so take out the trays as they are ready

Allow to cool a bit and combine the tomatoes, aubergines and peppers with a drizzle of red wine vinegar. Give it a stir and let cool to room temperature

To serve, portion onto plates, top with tuna, scatter capers and olives over top and lightly dust with pepper.

- I prefer tuna packed in olive oil, but if you can't find it, use the type packed in spring water or broth. You can also use grilled tuna instead.
- If you'd rather not do this with fish, try poached eggs, grilled chicken, grilled pork, or chickpeas instead.

I'm a quill for hire!

1 comment:

wenna webb said...

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