My book group are convening this evening and it is my turn to host which means I have to provide supper. We have been meeting up for over 7 years now and experience has taught us that it is best to keep things simple and select dishes that can be prepared in advance. To that end I'm going to serve a baked side of salmon with fine beans and potato salad.
(Serves 5 Adults)
1 x salmon fillet [circa 600g]
new potatoes [1.5 kg]
fine beans [400g]
1 x red onion
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
parsley x 1 sprig
1 x quarter cucumber
1 x Amalfi lemon
This meal only takes about 40 minutes to prepare and cook but I start a good hour in advance as I don't want to rush anything and it works well served at ambient temperature rather than hot.
Wash the potatoes in cold water and trim off any eyes or earthy patches and halve any that are larger than a table-tennis ball. Then boil them (from cold) in salted water for around 25 minutes until they are cooked through. Then drain them, refresh them with cold water (to arrest cooking) and set them aside in a lidded pan. Whilst the potatoes are boiling I bake the salmon in a lightly-oiled roasting tin in a pre-heated fan oven at 180 degrees C. for 25-30 minutes and then switch the oven off and leave the salmon to rest inside. You can make serving easier by cutting the salmon into even portions in advance if you wish.
Wash and 'top and tail' the fine beans and steam them for 5 minutes then 'refresh' them with cold water drain them and set them aside. Now add two tablespoons of olive oil to the potatoes along with the finely chopped red onion, chopped parsley and mustard and season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Mix everything together thoroughly and place in a serving bowl.
Remove the salmon from the oven and place an overlapping line of cucumber slices along its length. Plate up the salmon and green beans for each guest and allow them to serve themselves potato salad. That is a lot of potatoes but I err on the generous side and any left-overs are welcome.
As it is high summer and we'll be eating outdoors I'm going to serve that with a mid-weight, dry rosé – this month's Domaine de Torraccia from Corsica would be just the ticket.
Our book, by the way, is The Riddle of the Sands, a twisty nautical espionage caper written by Erskine Childers and published in 1903. I won't give out any spoilers but it's well worth dipping in to if you're after a holiday read. As for Childers own life you couldn't make it up. That, too, merits investigation if you have time.