While it's the perfect time of year for embracing traditions, having recently returned home from a lengthy European sojourn I was, this week, nowhere near organised enough to be baking up patriotic treats, so instead opted to give my first 'Midweek Mayhem' a go.
One of my favourite work night staples is an easy and quick lentil salad. Usually it's something akin to that detailed in Hugh F-W's Veg Every Day, but when you come across something touted as The Best Lentil Salad, Ever, well, who was I to resist?
While Hugh's recipe is simple and light, this version's dressing really packs a punch. Featuring a complex mix of spices that can easily be thrown together while the lentils cook, what I love most about recipes such as this is that they're infinitely adaptable. Make up a batch of the basic salad, and with a few optional add-ins you've got multiple meals near ready to go without needing to eat the same thing day after day. Today there was goat's cheese, fresh herbs and walnuts. Tomorrow, maybe some avocado and smoked trout, or perhaps some grilled chicken, Swiss chard and toasted almonds... There are plenty of tasty ways you can take this, and it's nice having so many options despite most of the hard work having already been done.
Another thing I'm a big fan of is using vegetables in place of pasta, and since I'm currently benefiting from my family's fabulous green-thumbs with a veritable glut of courgette and kale, I was keen to try this recipe for a zucchini pasta with a tangy and robust kale pesto.
I found this dish to be both well-balanced and tasty, with the astringency of the raw kale complemented by the sweetness of the roasted tomatoes, and creaminess of the toasted pine nuts and parmesan. As the recipe warns you do need to be careful not to over-steam the courgette, else you end up with a bit of a soggy mess, but it's both simple and super-quick, and a refreshingly light meal for those hot summer days.