Digest

Cockleshells

What I’m Cooking

I have a secret passion that I indulge in when Remo my husband is away (which is right now). It probably sounds pretty ordinary but I find it anything but: spaghetti. He never eats it, had too much of it growing up, so bizarrely, while he goes to Italy, I eat spaghetti. I love it with grassy EVOO, masses of thinly sliced garlic – never crushed or chopped – and a few flecks of bird’s eye chilli, barely warmed together in a pan – never fried – then tossed with spaghetti. On top, a shower of parmesan and a garden of just-picked rocket leaves. Sometimes I add halved sweet cherry tomatoes, just warmed slightly, to open up. Then I move on to clams, a great dish for spring: clams, white wine, EVOO, garlic, parsley. Nothing else. To think that around Naples a small fortune is paid for spaghetti alle vongole featuring imported New Zealand clams only adds to my pleasure. Julie Biuso

I love broad beans. Look out for the fresh ones – they aren’t particularly prevalent, but they are a thing of joy. You barely need to blanch them. For most of the year, the frozen ones from Talleys are all that is available, but they’re absolutely fine, and don’t really need to be cooked at all. Take the frozen beans, soak them in water for a couple of minutes so that the skin softens but the insides remain frozen, and all you need to do is pop them out of their skins with your fingers without the fear of squishing them. I like to fry up a bit of chopped prosciutto or bacon, then add some peeled broad beans to the pan, maybe some baby peas as well, and a bit of lemon zest, and keep them in pan long enough just to warm them through, then follow with a bit of shredded mint and some black pepper. Perhaps I’ll smash it up with a spoonful of ricotta to smear on grilled bread. Or add a little cream and some pasta like orecchiette or gnocchi. Sam Mannering

I’m loving the abundance of citrus right now and have been making the most of the fruit-laden trees – lemons have been featuring in my meals morning, noon and night. Meyer lemons grow well in New Zealand, both in the north and the south, and their sweeter, less acidic flavour means they’re ideal for everyday use. The signature sweetness of Meyers is a result of being crossed with a mandarin and this also explains their deep golden colour and smooth rind. I enjoy starting the day with hot water, ginger and lemon and I have even been adding peeled lemon to green smoothies. Mixed with olive oil, balsamic, egg yolk and mustard, the juice makes for a simple salad dressing and the zest gives an extra element to chicken dishes, pasta and salmon. A favourite meal is baking New Zealand’s fabulous King salmon with lemon zest, dill and cherry tomatoes – super easy and delicious. I also like to preserve lemons and freeze their juice so I can use them year round and avoid horrific out-of-season prices. Victoria Ellis

Photo: Aaron McLean

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