… I find that I get stuck into a favourite supermarket loop. Currently I’m favouring Sainsbury’s on a ‘this is the supermarket I choose to go to‘ basis as I think they sit nicely between the exclusivity of Waitrose and the cheap and cheerfulness of Tesco – although they’re not cheap and rarely cheerful and they have way to many, badly laid out ‘local’ stores that i’m sure if aliens landed in London they’d think London was called Tesco – I guess it also comes down to location. I have a good Sainsbury’s near both my London flat and the Lincolnshire cottage and consistency is always useful when you’re a food blogger but it does mean that you get stuck into a loop of buying the same old same old and the aisles do begin to feel too familiar. There’s nothing better for stimulating a cooks mind than a visit to a strange supermarket. I found that a recent trip to Aldi was both eyeopening and quite enjoyable – genuinely wasn’t expecting such good quality and diverse range of food – although on my second visit I was more frustrated than happy and it was very busy and very fast – they don’t like you to hang around. Marks and Spencer is always an option if i’m in the city for lunch or i feel like treating myself to the odd posh ready meal… and our local Lincolnshire Co-Operative can be useful on occasion idi’m willing to take a pot-luck on there not being everything I need. Of course it’s also always nice to visit the local fresh food market and the artisan butcher and baker too but they’re usually on days of the week when i’m not at home and it takes dedication and time to mooch around which inevitably I don’t have. I guess that we’re really lucky that we have the choice… So what’s your favourite and why?
cavollo nero, yellow carrot and green bean paella
don’t you hate it when you get your heart set on making a particular dish and then you realise you don’t actually have the ingredients you need to do it… this happened with this paella. I started off with some wonderful fresh ingredients – that i’d spent quite some time and much car-parking frustration going out to purchase – and found a hidden box of paella rice at the back of the cupboard that needed eating but for the life of me I couldn’t find the little pot of saffron strands or the turmeric that I knew I had in the cupboard. I turned the thing upside down and whilst it would have probably been easier to pop out to the local corner shop I stubbornly refused and therefore made my paella without both. As it happens the paella tasted just gorgeous and for a lovely mid-week meal I was very pleased with the results… it just didn’t have the glorious yellow hue that we are used to but quite frankly it made very little difference. I’m very keen on getting as much fresh green veg into my mid-week as possible. When we’re busy we tend to lean towards quick meals which, whilst we do eat a lot of salad we inevitably eat comfort food and I want to try and set aside time to just whip up something a little warm and greener… this paella absolutely hit that spot!
1 onion – finel chopped
2 large flat field mushrooms – thickly sliced
2 garlic cloves – crushed
3 carrots sliced on the diagonal – I used some glorious yellow carrots
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
a few strands of saffron
150g cavollo nero cabbage – or other cabbage leaves
a handful of fine green beans
a selection of heirloom cherry tomatoes – cut in half
1 litre good quality vegetable stock
1 glass of white wine
olive oil and seasoning
I’ve used my shallow casserole dish with a lid but of course a proper paella pan would be ideal
place the pan on the hob and gently heat some olive oil and a little butter and saute the onions until they begin to soften, then add the garlic, paprika and turmeric, stir together and gently heat for another few minutes. Add the mushrooms and carrots, place the lid on and let them sweat until the vegetables begin to soften – roughly 6 mins, then take the lid off, turn the heat up and let the mushrooms take on a little colour. Season well with salt and pepper.
mix up the stock and add the saffron strand to it – set aside.
add the rice and stir it together then pour in a glass of white wine and let it bubble away until it has all be absorbed, then turn down the heat to its lowest setting
lay the cabbage on top with the green beans and tomatoes, then pour over the stock, put the lid on and let it gently bubble away for at least 30 minutes… check on it regularly, you want the bottom to stick and brown slightly but not burn… if you’re really worried, or like me your hob doesn’t really go very low, you can do this last bit in the oven, set to 180C
serve when the paella rice is tender
eat and of course enjoy!