I am in love with Diana Henry

After 4 days sweltering at Latitude, today I dipped into Diana Henry’s latest How to Eat a Peach.  It is divine. For a few years I was in love with Nigel Slater and Dennis Cotter. But Diana Henry has it. Great writing. Great stories. Great history. Brilliant no-fuss food.

Latitude was exhausting although the food outlets there excelled themselves.  Bao Buns, Souvlaki, 90second pizza from local foodies Fundhi, pop-your-head-off Rendang beef…… ooo, and hot sugary donuts and hot chocolate in the middle of the night. And a vertiginous Ferris-wheel ride with my man.

Tonight though, it was Fideua. A Valencian dish that is a bit like paella but without the fish and the rice!

It is simple. Chopping and prep take about 5 minutes, cooking no more than 20. So here we go.

Empty the oil from a small jar of artichokes into a wide shallow cooking pot.  Add finely diced celery (about 1 stalk), one chopped onion, one chopped courgette, one chopped red pepper, sliced fennel, two grated cloves of garlic and finally the artichokes that we’re in the bottle. Cook for 5 minutes.  Add two generous teaspoons smoked paprika (picante) and stir around. You will notice that the paprika, steam plus oil makes an emulsified vermillion coating for the vegetables. Make 1litre stock from good quality pouches or cubes. Add a large pinch of saffron and pour it into the vegetables.

Add 250g of fine pasta – I used Greek Mitzes from Asda.  Add the liquid and just a little salt if necessary (depends on the saltiness of the stock.  Stir once, then leave it bubbling away gently till the pasta is cooked. The key is not to stir. The best bits are the slightly crunchy bits on the bottom.

When nearly ready – 10 minutes tops –  throw in some frozen peas or if you are up for it, blanch some broad beans in advance, then slip them out of their little grey overcoats onto the pasta.

Guaranteed success – just don’t stir the pasta or the carbs will release and make it gloopy!

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