Having a birthday towards the end of May is wonderful: it often coincides with the Bank Holiday weekend, and would usually involve feasting with family and friends. This year’s birthday may be a little quieter than normal, but there is a lot to be grateful for.
Like many of you I’ve loved having more time in the kitchen, using fewer and more considered ingredients, and it got me thinking – what would my dream birthday lunch look like? Well, this is it. And even though there may not be six of us to eat it, the dishes can be adapted accordingly.
Halloumi with apricot is a long-standing family favourite, something my mum has always made us in sandwich form, and I know it’s not just nostalgia that makes me love it: anyone I’ve served or suggested it to immediately falls in love with the combination too. Don’t have mint or rocket? Use what you have. I’ve even made it with tinned apricots before and it still works a charm.
The roast chicken salad is my ultimate springtime meal, celebrating the beauty of British produce. I’ve made the full amount before and kept leftovers for the next day; even if the lettuce looks a little on the less crisp side, it still tastes wonderful. You can also use what you have here - chunks of avocado are lovely tossed through, as would be asparagus if you can get it instead of green beans.
And finally, the pudding that breaks my ‘I dont love cream’ rule. I’m not a huge cream cake lover, but that goes out of the window when meringues are involved. I like mine a little less sweet, and use yogurt to lighten it, and believe it or not, it works fabulously with frozen fruit too.
Prep time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 10 minutes
- 200g ciabatta or other slightly stale bread
- Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 4 apricots or 1 x 420g tin of apricots, drained
- 6 sprigs of mint
- Large handful of wild rocket (or other salad leaves)
- 1 lemon
- 2 x 250g halloumi
- 2 tbsp runny honey
- Halve the ciabatta horizontally and toast under the grill until lightly charred. Drizzle with olive oil then tear into small chunks.
- Halve the apricots and remove the stones if using fresh ones. Cut in half again and place in a large mixing bowl. Tear in the mint leaves, add the rocket or salad leaves and the torn toasted bread. Squeeze over the juice of the lemon and season well. Dress with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, toss together and spread out over a platter.
- Slice the halloumi into 1½cm slices. Place a large frying pan on a medium heat and drizzle in a little olive oil. Lay in the halloumi slices and fry for around 3-4 minutes, or until golden underneath. Gently flip each slice over and repeat. Drizzle with the honey for the last minute. Place the halloumi on and around the salad and serve straight away.