Good friends are so wonderful. People who you can spend time with and come away feeling nourished and loved. They are respectful, are there when they say they will be, and getting together is an exchange of mutual updates and sharing of ideas. Person to person relationships that are so valuable in this day and age of social media.
I like to extend hospitality to my friends, perhaps is is from my Italian cultural background, providing a spread of beautiful food to sit down and share together. This can be challenging if it involves people following particularly dietary regimens. I recently held a gathering and made organic roasted chicken with thyme; a cos, Egyptian spinach and capsicum salad with a red wine vinegar and olive oil dressing, and a roast pumpkin salad with tahini dressing. I also made simple steamed basmati rice as an accompaniment. I got the ingredients fresh from the local organic markets that morning, and had pre-purchased an organic chicken from my local butcher. The lunch was lovely, with everyone serving themselves from platters in the middle of the table, and the choices suited everyone’s dietary needs, be they vegetarian, grain free, low fodmap and/or sensitive digestion.
Recipes for four people:
Roasted organic thyme chicken
1/2 an organic 1.2kg chicken, jointed (For the technique on how to do this, see this website
Fresh thyme, 3-4 sprigs (or dried thyme, 1/2-1 tsp)
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
2. Place the chicken pieces in a small baking dish. Drizzle over some sunflower oil, enough to rub over the chicken. Put the fresh or dried thyme in with the chicken and rub the oil and thyme into the chicken. Push the fresh thyme sprigs into any cavities.
3. Place in the oven and roast for around 30 mins, turning the chicken every 10-15 mins. Insert a knife to check for doneness – continue cooking if there is still any pink flesh. If you need to continue cooking, turn the oven temperature down to 180 degrees Celcius and roast until the flesh of the chicken is all white, this may be 10-30 mins, keep checking it every 10 mins to avoid over cooking.
4. Remove from the oven when done, and cover with a lid or alfoil to keep it moist. Place baking dish on the table (placing a heat safe mat under it if still hot) and serve straight from the dish.
Cos, egyptian spinach and red capsicum salad with red wine vinegar dressing
1 small cos lettuce
1 small bunch of egyptian spinach (I got this from the local organic farmers markets, substitute with baby spinach)
1 red capsicum
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1. After washing the lettuce and egyptian spinach and draining off the water, tear the cos into bite-size pieces and place in a large salad bowl.. Take the egyptian spinach leaves off the stalks and place into the bowl, and mix the leaves through.
2. Cut the red capsicum into strips and place decoratively over the leaves.
3. Mix the oil and red wine vinegar in a jar and shake to mix.
4. Place the salad bowl and the dressing on the table for guest to serve themselves.
I also made Yottam Ottolenghi’s beautiful Roasted butternut squash & red onion salad with tahini & za’atar
Enjoy the company of your friends!