We prepared and cooked this meal as we went in a very leisurely way while we sitting around drinking and chatting. The pace was inspired by our meal in Rome with Rachel, a very joyful occasion. The only prior preparation was washing the leaves. A meal cooked like this (when possible) is a great pleasure, and takes away the pressure to present something finished and complete.
A tribute to the stuffed olives we ate at McDonald’s in Rome – Sam made a cut down the side of a large green pitted olive, filled it with sausage meat, floured, egged, then coated it in polenta, then deep fried. One might also use breadcrumbs – the version Sam made was gluten free.
The interior shoots of Puntarelle (available from Natoora via Ocado and specialist grocers, or grow it yourself as I did!) sliced thinly and crisped in iced water and a few smaller exterior green leaves, dressed just before serving with 2 garlic cloves smashed in a pestle and mortar with 5 anchovies, 8 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tsp of red wine vinegar and a smallish squeeze of lemon seasoned with a little salt.
Roast pumpkin and cream sauce
Roast de-seeded wedges of a rich, sweet pumpkin variety with olive oil and a little salt until soft. When ready to serve the pumpkin make the sauce: melt a knob of butter in a pan, melt in 2 anchovies until disintegrated on a low heat, pour in a cup of double cream, and add 1 garlic clove. Stir on a low heat until the garlic is infused, about 3-4 minutes, then remove the clove. Season with salt. Pour over the roasted pumpkin to serve.
Lamb chops and Puntarelle greens
Rub lamb chops with oil, garlic cloves and rosemary and leave for an hour or two. Just before cooking, season them on both sides with salt and pepper and cook on a very hot griddle pan or under a grill for 3-4 minutes each side, depending on the size. They will be pink in the middle.
For the greens, blanch puntarelle (or other bitter greens or chard or spinach) in salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water and squeeze out excess water. Fry a sliced garlic clove and a dried chilli in 4 tablespoons of olive oil until fragrant then add the cooked greens and stir. Serve immediately with extra olive oil to serve and a little salt.
Yogurt, homemade apricot jam, honey and nuts
In a little bowl