I got the Jamie Oliver 30 Minute Meals cookbook for my birthday this year. Apart from the fact that nothing actually takes 30 minutes (not unless you have Jamie’s incredible oven or fancy gadgets and someone cleaning up after you) it is a fantastic book with wonderful recipes in it. I’ve started doing a ‘recipe watch’ and reviewing the meals I’ve cooked from the book.
I went to Madeira in the summer and I’ve recently been reminiscing about the wonderful fresh seafood dishes we made there. Being an island Madeira has an endless supply of fresh fish and seafood, they are specifically known for their supply of langoustines and sardines. I decided to pretend we aren’t in the bitterly cold winter season and recreate some wonderful dishes from Madeira (with Jamie Oliver’s helping hand).
I found a recipe in Jamie’s book for grilled sardines, crispy halloumi, watercress salad and figs and thought, that will do nicely. The recipe called for sardines, garlic, chilli, lemon, parsley and fennel seeds. This sounded fabulous as it brought me back to when I was in Madeira so much so that I could smell the dish even before I’d cooked it! It’s amazing how cooking something can remind you so much of a place and it’s a great way to cheer yourself up if you’re feeling the winter blues.
We’ve mentioned Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals before, and that’s because they are awesome. Not only will he help you create something like this <— but he’ll also help you figure out what to serve it with. In Madeira we pretty much just ordered loads of sardines and prawns and gouged on that, not thinking about salads or bread, no no no don’t wait precious belly space. I decided to make the accompaniments that Jamie suggested, mostly to impress my boyfriend. As you can see it does look very appatising, despite me literally throwing all the ingredients into the oven dish and chucking it in the oven.
So Jamie suggested serving the sardines with crispy halloumi, a watercress salad and figs, and that’s exactly what I did. Everything else is really quick and easy. The halloumi was really easy, just sprinkle with some sesame seeds and fry them for about 10 minutes and they taste AMAZING. Little tip - fry the halloumi right before you’re ready to serve your meal for the best tasting cheese, ever invented, in the world, ever.
For the salad, get yourself some pre-prepared greens (including the watercress) and sprinkle over a packet of pomegranate seeds, drizzle with lemon, pomegranate juice and lots of extra virgin olive oil. The pomegranate seeds work magic with the chilli-infused sardines. Last but not least the pies de resistance, the figs. Cut an arrow into your figs without cutting through the entire thing, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with mint. This combination is incredible and complements the sharp, salty halloumi like you wouldn’t believe.
The key to this dish is to not worry about proportions or measurements, just go with your gut, use your hands and taste as you go along. The combination of flavours is enough to take you out of your winter coma and zing you back into life. Put everything on a big serving platter and let everyone serve themselves. Serve it will a glass of sangria or a bottle of ice cold beer for that extra buzz.
Check out Jamie Oliver’s video for step by step instructions on how to make this recipe.