Lockdown has been a peculiar time. Like many others I’m sure, my normally eager productivity has sunk into the depths of a swampy quagmire, struggling to stay buoyant. Cooking for myself is suddenly hard work and my cool night time habit of reading cookbooks has worryingly disappeared. People have been proudly nurturing their sourdough starters as though they’re suddenly Gordon Ramsay, and my mum has baked a quiche, tart, cake or steamed pudding every day, while I have apathetically lounged on the sofa, missing the cooking excitement by reaching for the taramasalata and breadsticks.
However, the sunny weather and little changes that are coming in public spaces are bringing a spring to my step. Returning to the UK a few months earlier than planned was a perfect antidote to those lockdown-blues and I can now be found basking in the rays of occasional sun, whenever it chooses to shine – this is England, after all.
The novelty of summer after weeks of an impending New Zealand winter, huddling by the fire and bundled under coats, is thrilling, quite frankly. Meanwhile, it’s the little differences between here and New Zealand that pleasantly surprise me; for one, here we’re allowed to drink alcohol in public! Not that I’ll be sitting on a park-bench with a box of wine, but it’s a luxury to have the option.
There have been moments of bliss. I picnicked in the park with Tony and Anna, sharing a bottle of wine (madness!) while eating baguette with Camembert, crisps and olives and hummus. Fiona and I eat well every night sharing dinners of crispy-skinned chicken with ginger, garlic and plums, the occasional take-away as we watch Downton Abbey, and a few nights of cheesy lasagne in front of the TV. So, it’s not like I been struck with cooking celibacy. I’ve just not been inspired.
Until this goat’s cheese and coriander potato salad.
The Perfect Lazy Meal: Goat’s Cheese, Coriander and Potato Salad
Flicking through my favourite cookbook ever, The Flavour Thesaurus, I learnt that goat’s cheese and coriander are, unbeknown to many, great friends. In the UK, we’re now almost bored of the traditional goat’s cheese and rosemary, goat’s cheese and thyme, goat’s cheese and mint (although I did say ‘almost’…) so seeing coriander as a new option, and remembering the full pack of it in the fridge, I practically hurtled to the shops to buy more ingredients.
Coriander and goat’s cheese are strong flavours. Some people think coriander tastes of soap, and other people think goat’s cheese tastes like a real goat. Yet, hidden amongst this potato salad their flavours are softened, especially with an added punch of fresh chilli. Juicy plum cherry tomatoes and the aged counterpart, the jammy sun-dried version, are plated with roasted baby potatoes and gooey chunks of goat’s cheese. It’s then all liberally sprinkled with spring onion, slices of chilli, lemon zest and coriander leaves. Rich, salty flavours are lifted with the fragrant coriander and lemon. The UK meets Mexico in a whimsical potato salad. The perfect dish to take to a barbecue if you’re so inclined.
So, I’m coaxing myself back into the kitchen; cooking for oneself is so tiresome, so weights and measures are optimistic right now. There are still some days where a bowl of cereal is the ideal lunch or dinner. I can’t claim this potato salad as a recipe, just a throw-it-all-together dish, one that is stupidly easy for you to tuck right in. Although, now I’m back in the saddle it won’t be long until I’m reading cookbooks in bed again. We all have our downfall somewhere.
Goat’s Cheese and Coriander Potato Salad
- 75 g new potatoes 2.65 oz
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus more to serve
- 6 cherry tomatoes
- A log of soft goat's cheese
- 3 sundried tomatoes
- 1 spring onion
- Zest of ½ lemon
- 1 red chilli seeds removed or not, as you wish
- ¼ cup coriander leaves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F. Wash the potatoes and chop the larger ones in half. Pop them into a microwavable bowl and blast them in the microwave on high for 2 minutes (if you don't have a microwave, boil them in salted water for 5 minutes until a knife can cut through them without resistance). Once they are hot and steaming, tip them onto a baking tray and toss with olive oil and salt. Roast for 15-20 minutes until they are golden and crispy.
- Meanwhile, prep the other salad ingredients. Chop the cherry tomatoes in half and season with salt. Halve the sundried tomatoes, and thinly slice the spring onion and a few slices of chilli (not too much if you prefer a milder salad!).
- Once the potatoes are crispy, arrange everything on your plate. Start with the potatoes and tomatoes, and top with the sun-dried tomatoes. Break off crumbling pieces of goat’s cheese and arrange as much or as little as you wish on top. Sprinkle with spring onion and chilli slivers, a small handful of coriander leaves and enough lemon zest to cover. Drizzle with olive oil and a little salt and pepper.