Since early Monday and up until last night, I was in quite a mood. By early, I mean truly very early. And by quite a mood, I mean a doozy of one.

It might have been the fresh start of a new week, or maybe it was my recent birthday, but whatever the reason I have been in a clean-out-the-closets-get-rid-of-the-clutter-oh!-should-I-start-the-flower-beds-there-is-laundry-to-be-folded-hey!-does-that-window-need-cleaning-air-out-the-curtains sort of mood. I felt like a squirrel riding the swell of a caffeine high, skittering between task to task, caught just between busy and absurdly frantic. More often that I would like to admit I veered recklessly into the latter category.

What finally brought this careening momentum to a halt was, to the surprise of no-one I'm sure, food. A nibbly sort of snack, the most modest of things really. Scorch-grilled bread, a mound of oven dried tomatoes, creamy bocconcini, and a healthy spoonful of lemony, herby, capery, chili-spiked olive oil was enough to stop me in my tracks.

All laid out on a big plate, it was the sort of thing to be lingered over.

A combination of flavours and textures well-suited to this in between time when Ms. Spring can still be a tad temperamental; substantial without being heavy. Rich and unctuous, creamy and mild, astringent and fresh - all piled together on top warm, crusty slice of garlicy bread.

True, I am one that would happily munch on my left shoe if it was topping a fat wodge of freshly-baked bread, but take my word, this is something rather good. Put down the to-do list and pass the wine.



A pared-down, rustic variation of the Italian classic, salsa verde. This recipe is for the amount I needed for our snack, but the (estimated) quantities are intended as only a guideline. You can also add some toasted pine nuts and plumped up raisins for a sauce to serve over griddled slices of salty haloumi.


  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon capers, roughly chopped if large
  • 1-2 anchovy fillets, minced (optional)
  • Zest of one lemon, cut in thin strands
  • 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a small bowl, combine the parsley, capers, anchovy fillets and lemon zest. Stir in the lemon juice. Slowly add the olive oil until you have a loose, chunky vinaigrette. Check for the balance of acid to oil, adjusting if needed. Season to taste with chili flakes, salt and pepper.

Makes around 1/2 cup.



Making oven dried tomatoes is hardly new and not at all demanding, but the results are so rewarding it garners another mention. They are juicier than sundried, with a texture I far prefer. You can also control the level of roasting to best suit your needs, which is a bonus, and slow roasting coaxes a bit of summer sweetness from the hothouse varieties available to those of us waiting for local field tomatoes.

I basically use Nigella Lawson's recipe for Moonblush Tomatoes, with a few changes:

• I use fresh thyme instead of dried and add a few grinds of black pepper.

• More often than not I add a head's worth of unpeeled garlic cloves to the pan.

• Upon putting the tomatoes in to roast, I turn the oven down to 350°F (175°C). After about 10 minutes, I turn the oven off and leave the tomatoes to finish drying. Keep in mind that the total roasting time will depend on the size of tomatoes you use. Rarely do I leave them overnight.

• I often make these after baking bread, to take advantage of the already-heated oven.