This was a Mary Poppins recipe, practically perfect in every way. Minimal energy or supervision required from the chef; the most arduous part is slicing the potatoes thin enough and minding your fingers while you do it to avoid adding extra animal iron-rich protein to the mix. I could get them safely down to about 3mm, which roasted perfectly in the time allowed, giving each slice a nicely tender and tasty whatever-you-call-the-bit-inside-the-skin and a thin, crunchy layer of skin itself.
The recipe: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/roast-sea-bass-vegetable-traybake
We did however add a handful of asparagus spears at the stage where you also add the fish. I only noticed afterwards that it also says half the olives – but you know what? Stuff that. I’d already sliced the potatoes, so what more did they want?
And the timing for the last stage – “a further 7-8 mins” – might be a bit optimistic. We could comfortably give it >10mins to allow time for a proper savouring of the pre-prandial G&T and it turned out fine.
From The Times Saturday magazine. I feel like a cheat calling this a casserole, because in my old-school understanding a casserole meal is a meal cooked in a casserole dish in an oven, not in a wok on a hob. But I guess you could cook it in an oven if you so so desired and either way, hey, it works.
Some alteration was required to bring this meal for 4 down to 2, but not always reducing by 50%. I mean, 200g chorizo for 4 people? What are they, vegetarians? Homeopaths? Nah, we stuck with a Tesco Finest Spanish Chorizo Ring at 225g and didn’t feel remotely full. We also stuck with the half cabbage and again that was just the right quantity. Everything else we did indeed cut by 50%.
And we saw no point in adding another meaty flavour to a deliciously meaty recipe by using chicken stock. Vegetable stick is far more delicate and in no way overpowers the lovely chorizo.
Another discovery from that hidden gem, The Essential Pasta Cookbook – but with differences. First, you will notice I do not call it what the book does, Fettuccine with Zucchini and Crisp-Fried Basil, for a number of reasons. 1) We use tagliatelle (though fettucine doesn’t involve eggs so would work for vegans). 2) We call them courgettes. 3) What monster would crisp-fry basil? What on earth is the point of that? Basil au naturel, freshly torn and mixed into the food, is the only way to go.
But other than that … the only word of caution is that this is almost too easy. See the recipe below, or just take my word for it: you grate the courgettes (1 per person) and fry them with as much crushed garlic as you can take, in plenty of butter, and you can do all of this from beginning to end in the time it takes the pasta (75g per person) to cook. But, you still need to be fairly sharpish because it’s quite easy for tagliatelle to overcook to the point where it slithers out of the holes in the colandar – not the best look.
It goes without saying that rather than perpetrate any atrocities involving oil upon a few innocent basil leaves, you shred them at the end and mix them in with the pasta and the courgettes. Then leave to mature in the pan while you enjoy your G&T. Scatter with the parmesan just before eating.