Supermarket managers vary enormously when it comes to the generosity of price reductions on a Sunday afternoon. I’ve long thought that whoever is the manager of the Waitrose in Brighton, he (or she) has a slightly sadistic nature meaning they would rather see disappointed bargain hunters return the reduced goods to the shelf and close the doors at the end of Sunday trading having not sold the items, then shift the about-to-be-binned food at lower prices while at the same time giving a little burst of pleasure to the lucky shopper who finds the steal. Not so with the manager of the Lewes branch though. I may well be doing myself out of a potential prize by publicising this, but whoever calls the shots with the reduction gun at the Waitrose there has a devil-may-care attitude that I find very welcome. Recent winners have been; A brick of sausage meat down from £3.50 to 50p, cheese at a quarter of the price (and like cheese goes ‘off’!), countless patiserrie ultra-reductions, and last week a tray of marinaded turkey pieces reduced from £4.50 to just 19p. Going there at 3:30pm for the last ‘mad’ half hour is becoming a habit.
This last Sunday wasn’t quite so good though. I think the snow had left them rather understaffed and so there weren’t very many of them, any of them in fact, doing that final ten minute dash when they seem to, well, go nuts. I did pick up two double packs of hearts of romaine lettuce for 10p each though.
The lettuce inspired me to make a salad for dinner. Initially the prospect of a salad as a ‘main’, on a Sunday, induced if not protest from my kids then certainly a discernable air of disappointment, but when it was put before them the lack of faith they’d clearly been feeling was quashed. They loved it, and went on about it afterwards. It was though, I have to admit, a really outstanding, not to mention hearty (of romaine) salad. Probably not strictly a Caesar Salad, but so what.
Serious Caesar Salad (for 5 people)
For The Dressing
2 anchovy fillets
1 large clove of garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of Dijon Mustard
2 teaspoons of Worcester Sauce
150ml Oil (about three quarters Rapeseed, the rest Olive)
1 teaspoon of sugar
40g or so of grated parmesan
To make the dressing put all the ingredients except for the oil and the parmesan into a blender, put the lid on and blend. Once combined, carefully pour the oil through the hole in the lid of the blender in a steady stream. The dressing will turn thick and creamy. Pour it into a bowl and stir in the parmesan.
For The Salad
3 heads of lettuce (I used hearts of romaine, sliced into largish pieces)
3 courgettes (sliced into long disks)
2 Gem Hearts quartered
Raddichio (about a handful)
1 shallot (thinly sliced)
7 or so chestnut mushrooms (thinly sliced)
1 handful baby spinach leaves
half a cucumber (cut into spears)
5 anchovy fillets
lots of parsley
lots of parmesan
lots of lemon
1 lump of halloumi (cut into fingers)
3 slices of good sourdough (cut or torn into crouton sized pieces)
Put the oven on 200ºC
To make the salad, griddle the courgette slices until they’re nicely blackened on both sides and set aside to cool. Drizzle the bread pieces with olive oil and bake for 9 minutes in the oven, take them out, rub them with raw garic and season before setting them aside to cool (though they’re nice if a little warm still). Mix the sliced mushrooms with lots of lemon, olive oil, finely chopped garlic, a fair amount of salt and pepper and chopped parsley and set aside. Combine the leaves (except the Gem hearts), shallot and cucumber in a massive bowl. Add the courgette pieces, and about half the dressing (the other half you can keep in the fridge for another day) and thoroughly mix it with your hands to get it all well covered.
Assemble the salad onto large plates. Scatter over the mushrooms, torn up anchovy and the croutons.
Finally griddle the Gem hearts and the halloumi until nicely blackened and arrange them on top of the salads. Give the finished dishes a few more flicks of dressing, a generous seasoning of black pepper, a sprinkle of parsley and a plentiful grating of parmesan.