A seaside picnic

What I love most about a sunny winter’s day is that you can enjoy an afternoon out of doors without sweat and flies, and you have a good chance of enjoying yourself without getting sunburnt. I also love those meals that are absolutely, lip-smackingly delicious and inherently healthy at the same time.

oh i do like to be beside the seaside

This crispy-skinned salmon recipe, cooked to perfection at the family barbecue area at Swanbourne Beach, represents one such meal, enjoyed on one such day. It also happens to be free of gluten, sugar, yeast and dairy.

the most amazing salmon, and it is so easy

Before you embark on your very own version of my picnic lunch, I would recommend preparing the basil pesto at home, as you will need this for the fish. Everything else can be made at the beach; so long as you have the right utensils with you, you can purchase the fresh produce on the way.

Recipe #94: Basil and pine nut pesto.

You will need:
► 125g pine nuts, toasted in a 150°C oven for 5-10 minutes
► 2 large bunches of basil
► 4 small cloves of garlic
► at least a couple of good lugs of decent olive oil, to taste and bring the mixture together
► salt, to taste
► pepper, to taste

Start by finely crushing or processing the garlic with a couple of pinches of salt. Process the rest of the ingredients together, using a blender, food processor or Thermomix. I like to blend to a fairly rough consistency, adding enough olive oil for the mixture to be pasty rather than runny. Add salt, pepper and olive oil to taste.

Recipe #95: Crispy-skinned salmon with basil pesto. Serves 4.

You will need:
► 4 fillets of Atlantic salmon, skin intact
► basil pesto
► salt flakes
► 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
► vegetable oil (for cooking)

Start by scoring the skin of the salmon with shallow, diagonal cuts. Sprinkle a generous pinch of salt over the skin and massage it in, ensuring it penetrates the cuts you created. Smear a good quantity of pesto onto the underside of the fillets.

Heat the barbecue hotplate and ensure it is well oiled. If you are using a communal hotplate, you may not be able to select the heat, so be prepared to work fast!

When the hotplate is very hot, sear the salmon (skin down, onto the hotplate, to start). Squeeze a little lemon (2 wedges) over the salmon. Once this has seared for 2-3 minutes, use sturdy tongs to turn the salmon onto its other side.

When the sides of the salmon steaks are almost a uniform light pink colour (ie. little to no raw flesh visible), place the salmon fillets onto plates, ready for the salads. This should take only another 2-3 minutes to achieve if your hotplate is searingly hot.

so delicious

Your salmon should still have a lovely jelly texture in the middle.

Recipe #96: Salad of new season tomatoes. Serves 4, as a side.

You will need:
► 250g various small tomatoes, chopped in halves or into wedges [I bought a ‘new season’ pack for instant variety]
► a few slices of a red onion (very fine)
► a small handful of flatleaf parsley or another soft herb, roughly chopped
► good olive oil
► lemon, for juicing
► salt, to taste
► pepper, to taste

Combine the tomatoes, parsley and onion together. Add a good squeeze of lemon, a generous lug of olive oil, a good pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Taste, then add more lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper as desired.

new season tomatoes: such a variety of colours

Recipe #97: Green salad with walnuts and beetroot. Serves 4, as a side.

You will need:
► 4-5 handfuls of your favourite greens [I used Swiss chard, wild rocket and baby spinach for their flavour and small leaves]
► 1 medium-sized beetroot, grated
► 2 handfuls of walnuts, crushed or chopped until quite small
► a good handful of flatleaf parsley leaves, chopped roughly
► ¼ of a red onion, sliced very finely
► 1 large clove of garlic, either squashed with the side of a large knife or cut in half
► salt, to taste
► pepper, to taste
► lemon, to squeeze over the salad
► good olive oil

Begin by rubbing the garlic all around the inside of the salad bowl. Next, add the greens, parsley beetroot, walnuts and onion; toss a few times to combine well. Squeeze over the juice of about half a lemon, add a really generous lug of olive oil, a couple of good pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper; toss the salad with your hands to coat the leaves well. Taste, then add more lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper as desired.

the green salad

We started our picnic with antipasto and bread, and followed our main meal with a slice each of blueberry pie. We left the beach with light hearts and heavy stomachs.

Enjoy, and I hope the weather holds up well enough for you to partake of a similar experience this weekend!

H 🙂

Addendum of 18 July 2010: Corrected the recipe to clarify that the pesto was actually smeared onto the underside of the fish — sorry for any confusion! This way, the skin gets really crispy delicious plus you have a that pine nut and basil flavourburst.


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