If talking about the weather was an Olympic sport, I’m confident I could medal in it. I’m not unique in this respect, I think all Irish people would be able to do the same. This is probably because we have so much of it. For a garden party last week I brought sunglasses, sandals, shoes, umbrella, hat and raincoat. We go abroad to places with normal, seasonal weather and confuse everyone by observing repeatedly that it’s hot on a June afternoon. Talking about the weather is conversational stretching. Whether you’ve known the person for 5 minutes or 5 years, it eases you into talking about real things.
I say talking about the weather, but really, it’s mainly complaining. There’s a sweet spot of 25C with clear skies and a light breeze which makes me happy. Everything else is moan worthy. Having spent the past two months complaining about how cold it was, I stepped off a plane in Amsterdam recently to 35C at 8:00pm, and the conversation instantly changed. How can anyone stand this heat? It’s the kind of weather where the day is just one long process of getting in and out of various bodies of water interspersed with lying in the shade and groaning. In this kind of weather, you want long, relaxed meals with minimal stove time, so I made this supper with a little help.
If you have two people working together, it’s quick to put together, with lots of great summer flavours. The pappardelle is adapted from a recipe in Helen Atlee’s wonderful book on Italy, The Land Where Lemons Grow.You need really good, sweet and very red tomatoes for the bruschetta, the kind you only get around this time of year. This serves two with some bruschetta topping left over for lunch the next day.
- 4 medium sized vine tomatoes, de-seeded and diced
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chopped basil
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped thyme
- 1/2 loaf of bread, chopped into slices
- 1 clove of garlic
- Extra olive oil for drizzling on bread
Orange, Lemon and Tarragon Pappardelle
- 1 orange
- 1 lemon
- 1 shallot
- 15g butter
- 1 tablespoon (ish) white wine
- 100ml cream
- teaspoon chopped tarragon
- 200g pappardelle
- Grated parmesan (to taste)
- 500g broad beans (unshelled weight)
- Mix the tomato, shallot, basil, thyme, olive oil and vinegar in a large bowl, and season well.
- Peel the lemon and orange and julienne the peel.
- Boil the peel for five minutes so remove the bitterness and drain.
- Melt the butter in the a sauce pan and add the shallot.
- Cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes or so, until softened but not coloured.
- Add the wine and peel and reduce.
- After 2-3 minutes when the wine is almost gone, add the cream and tarragon.
- Squeeze in some juice from the lemon and orange.
- Taste after a minute and add more if you like, the original recipe called for the juice of two oranges and one lemon, but I thought this was a bit much. I ended up using about 1/2 of each, but it’s whatever you like yourself.
- Season well with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, shell the broad beans and boil for 3-4 minutes in boiling water.
- Refresh with cold water, and when you can handle them, squeeze off the tough outer coating.
- Cook the pappardelle in boiling salted water as per packet instructions.
- Rub each slice of bread with a peeled garlic clove, drizzle with some oil and toast until golden on both sides (you can do this under the grill or in a pan).
- When the pasta is cooked, toss it in the sauce and add the broad beans.
- Mix in some grated parmesan to taste (again, it’s up to you how much, I like quite a lot, about 1.5 tablespoons per portion, but that’s just me).
- Top the toasted bread with a spoonfull of the tomato mix and serve with the pasta.