Cooking from the kitchen garden or farmer’s market is different from cooking from a supermarket, in so many ways. For one thing, the produce decides the menu, rather than the other way around. I love this, not only because of the incomparable flavour of freshly harvested, organic produce, but because it encourages me to be creative with what I have on hand.
When I shop at the farmer’s market, I first of all make my way around the market, filling my basket with whatever’s abundant at the time, which means the prices are great. These things become the staples of my menu for the week. Once I’ve done that, I will go and buy what tempts me most, whether it be new season stone fruit, heavenly cheeses or gorgeous dried figs. When I get home, it all gets laid out on the bench and, before I put it away, I decide what we’ll be eating in the coming week (and write a list to stick on the fridge to remind me what I decided!). This doesn’t take long, but saves me the dreaded standing at the fridge midweek, racking my brains to imagine what in there could possibly become dinner, when everyone’s tired, hungry and my inspiration is at its lowest ebb.
Cooking from the kitchen garden takes a little less planning, but when produce is at its prime, it demands to be used, so today, with the rocket threatening to bolt to seed, I picked off all the tops and made this simple but delicious salad, using some lovely, crisp little Corella Pears, that I had bought at the market. I have used Parmesan this time, but a mild, fruity blue cheese would be beautiful too.
Rocket, Pear & Walnut Salad
A few handful of fresh rocket leaves
2 Corella Pears, quartered, cores removed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup of walnuts
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup coarsely grated parmesan
Wash the rocket, then remove excess water using a salad spinner or clean tea towel. Tip into a salad bowl.
Add the pears and walnuts, then sprinkle over the lemon juice and olive oil, along with a generous grind of black pepper.
Toss together until well combined, then scatter the parmesan over the top. Give a last, gentle toss to disperse the parmesan and serve.