I do enjoy picking out a recipe and planning to make it. Making sure I’ve got all the ingredients and getting to grips with the method. Then admiring the result, seeing if it actually looks anything like the recipe tells you it should.
But there’s something really satisfying about seeing what you’ve got in the garden, fridge, cupboards and spice rack and making a dish up as you go along. Using your creative skills to make the best of the resources you have to hand.
Also known as blagging it.
Up north, there’s a saying where some people boast that they could “make a meal out of a dirty dish cloth”. This strikes me as a valuable skill to have in life, and I hope that by the end of this post I will able to add myself to the list of those who own such a talent.
So the prize for the most random dish of recent days goes to the stuffed marrow I concocted last week. It started life (obviously) as a courgette but after going away for a few weeks on a summer hol, it transformed into a mammoth marrow which, quite frankly my dear, I was at a loss as to what to do with.
Soup was no good, I’d have to add so many other ingredients just to make it taste of anything that it would defeat the object. And this beast was so huge that just to eat it gradually as a vegetable accompaniment to meals would take weeks. Possibly months. No, my best bet was to stuff the thing.
Bravely conquering my fear of seeds (yes, I know, but apparently it is a recognised phobia with an unpronounceable name and everything), I cut two hefty slices and hollowed them out. A quick drizzle of olive oil and a grinding of salt and pepper, then into the oven they went.
In the meantime, I raided the fridge. As a result I ended up with onion, red pepper and sausage meat in a frying pan. Not a bad start. A rummage in the cupboard produced some chopped tomatoes followed by a sprinkling of sweet paprika and cumin.
While this was simmering away the bread bin gave a wholemeal bap perfect for grating into breadcrumbs, and another trip into the garden added some greenery to the dish in the form of parsley. That was the topping sorted but the filling still needed something else.
Ah ha! A left over corn on the cob was lurking towards the back of the fridge. I steamed it for 10 minutes then chopped the corn from the sides and added it to the pan.
By now the marrow boats were becoming tender, so I filled each one with the sausage and tomato mixture, wrapped them in foil and placed them back into the oven for around 15 minutes.
Another 10 minutes baking and my random meal was complete. And for a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants dish, it was deliciously tasty with the sweet flavours of the tomatoes and sweetcorn contrasting just enough with the salt of the sausage meat.
Yes, it worked. So I think I can now boast that I, like many resourceful northerners before me, can make a meal out of a dirty dish cloth.