Despair, followed quickly by relief. Having being told by well-meaning friends who did not know they were breaking my heart that Birregurra Organics was closing shop I went into a culinary tail-spin. No more Friday Surprise Box of gorgeous organic produce. I came to realise that I had come to a point where the thought of buying my fruit and veg from the local greengrocer was no longer an option. Never a person who required a firm grip on reality, I decided to pursue the following approach: deny, deny, deny! Miraculously, this appears to have borne fruit. Literally. The business is to be taken over by a couple in Lorne and deliveries will continue from May 6. I can breathe again.
Summer 2010 – 2011, in terms of weather, was a complete fizzer: grey, wet and cold and so there has been an absence of the usual signs that the season has turned. The strongest evidence for the arrival of autumn has come from what I have been producing from my Friday Surprise Box: maple-syrup roasted vegetables, soup made from honey roasted carrots etc. My must-have dish of the season though has undoubtedly been an incredibly simple salad made from rocket, pears, walnuts and Parmesan. These ingredients all have a deeply warming and sustaining nature and this dish is a reminder of the joys of cold-season salads when you tend to forget that it is still possible to “eat light”. In Chinese medicine, walnuts support the kidneys which is a fine thing in the cooler months. With this salad on board, you can make a sensational dinner in 15 minutes and wallow in that glow of smug self-satisfaction that comes with feeding the family something tasty, nutritious and cost-effective. Or maybe that’s just me. You could serve this salad with heaps of different things but it doesn’t get any easier than sausages. In these parts we are able to get a tray of 6 lovely sausages from Birregurra Farm Foods for a handful of dollars and this feeds the 4 of us just fine. The salad, which is tangy and peppery, really cuts through the fattiness of the sausages. Have it with a glass of stout and swan about in the golden autumn light for guaranteed happy times.
Pear and parmesan salad
- 1 -2 pears and/or apples, cored and thinly sliced
- Few handfuls of rocket or other peppery greens
- A handful of walnuts, very roughly broken up (I just crumble them into the bowl with my hands)
- Freshly shaved Parmesan
- Finely sliced fennel bulb and fennel leaves (optional)
- Couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper
Mix the rocket, pears or apples, fennel and walnuts in a bowl. Make a dressing by mixing the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper well. Dress the salad and then add as much shaved Parmesan as you like. It may not surprise you to know that I like a lot of Parmesan. Eat it with meat, eat it with pies, eat it with frittata. Eat it on its own. It will please you.