Saturday night I wanted to do a series of tapassy type dishes for dinner as the original plan had been to meet up with David for tapas and sherry at a place he'd heard about in Borough. Except then he couldn't find it again and he'd consumed an excess of sherry elsewhere in the meantime and, after waking with a dreadful hangover, was subsequently less convinced he wanted to repeat the experience. So they came to us instead but I still fancied a Spanish theme to the evening.
We started with a lightly chilled manzanilla with hot padron peppers and marinated olives. Then I had a whole collection of dishes, mostly cold, except for some saffron potatoes and tiny lamb balls, which I made up as I went along. The array of salads largely came from Moro type recipes I found on the web, particularly an incredibly beautiful blood orange and chicory salad from Helen's Food Stories blog and a richly textured chick pea and butternut dish made luscious with tahini dressing.
The last one made, and I almost didn't, was date and parsnip salad from a very old article in the Guardian. I read the instructions, looking for how to cook the parsnips and realised - you don't. Just grate them and mix with everything else. And I doubted it deep inside, even though it was a recipe from Moro, from Sam and Sam Clark, and I love their food. It just didn't seem right. Their intro suggested it was half salad, half relish and that kind of put me off too. I love salad but I loathe relish - which half would triumph? And the man doesn't much like mint. It was Lebanese rather than Spanish. And I'd already made enough food to cover the table with jeweled plates.
But hey, what the hell. I had the ingredients, no cooking only chopping means it would be quick to make, disaster or no. Dinner should be an adventure. Good call - it turned out to be my favourite dish of the night. Savoury, sweet and decadently rich with a myriad of textures it really was the perfect accompaniment to the lamb and the rest of the vegetables.
Parsnip, yogurt and date salad
10 dates, stoned and roughly chopped
2 tbsp fresh mint, roughly chopped
150g Greek yogurt with a squeeze of lemon, or any slightly sour yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp runny honey
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
Peel the parsnips, cut in quarters lengthways, and get rid of any woody centre. Grate coarsely and place in a bowl. Add the chopped dates and mint, followed by all the remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper, toss well and taste. Serve immediately.
Utterly divine. Suspect it would be even better with barbecue...