NEED TO KNOW
|Type of dish||Quick and easy|
|Cooking time||30 min - 1 hour|
Hot weather has become a taboo subject. Whereas before I could always rely on a few thoughtless mentions of the temperature to open my column, the sight of the charred paddocks on my recent travels from Pukehina to Russell have slowed my pen.
Two months ago I was researching a column on the cost of watering an urban vegetable garden, but now it seems insensitive to complain. Having water is the thing.
The scaremongering that this type of weather system is here to stay is certainly not helping. Thankfully you can't trust a long-range forecast. Be it good or bad there are always many who suffer and a few who profit.
This adage rings true in the garden as well. Although my tomatoes are looking even nastier than they should at this time of year and my soft herbs are in window boxes set in partial shade, a few other plants are thriving. Perpetual dryness is no trouble for the lavender or the thyme and my Vietnamese mint is rioting out of control.
Happily putting on a good show is my little french tarragon plant. It has struggled and straggled the last few years, not fond of our constant house moving. A good stint in one spot and an arid summer is what it needed. Tarragon is a plant that needs very little. Neither a fan of excess water or good quality soil it is happier in a forgotten pot than in a well-watered fertile bed. For all its preferred neglect it is a giver.
Filled with flavour it imparts generously to other ingredients. Because the plant loses its leaves in winter it is often preserved as an infused vinegar or a dried herb. For the same reason it is also often presumed dead and discarded, but if you leave that little bundle of sticks in the ground it will burst back to life late the following spring. When buying tarragon look for "french" tarragon - it is more compact, upright and flavour-packed than the commonly available "russian" tarragon.
Famous as part of bearnaise sauce, oddly along with the winter herb chervil, tarragon is frequently overlooked. Perhaps because of its anise notes, one of the more polarising flavours in the herb world. I was dubious of tarragon for a long time because, as a student, I had rendered a lasagne inedible with an over zealous dose of dried tarragon. Beef and tarragon is a poor flavour combo in the first place and with such a thin purse it was hard to excuse.
Fresh tarragon is a lot more forgiving. It pairs wonderfully with seafood or chicken, easily infuses into a vinegar, is lovely in an oil, hits an interesting note chopped through a salad and is a great friend of eggs. Baked into an egg dish like this frittata it becomes a great dance partner to the fennel in the sausages, lifts the egg flavour and complements the sweetness of cooked tomato.
The sneaky thing about this frittata is that it all happens in one dish. It's a classic rush-job lunch filled with fresh lovely ingredients and satisfying flavours. You can happily knock it together and throw it in the oven without a second glance.
SAUSAGE AND TARRAGON FRITTATA
|½ onion, peeled and cut into wedges|
|6 free-range pork and fennel sausages|
|1 truss of little ripe tomatoes|
|8 eggs, beaten|
|2 Tbsp cream or milk|
|2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon or ½ tsp dried|
|½ tsp chopped fresh rosemary or a pinch of dried|
|1 small potato, cut into wedges|
|1 Tbsp water|
|¼ cup grated cheese|
1 Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2 Place potato, onion and sausages in an ovenproof dish and roast for 15 minutes. Turn everything part way through.
3 Nestle the tomatoes into the cooked potatoes, onions and sausages.
4 Beat the eggs, cream, tarragon, rosemary, water and cheese together and pour into the hot dish.
5 Bake for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with a little cheese and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until puffed and golden.
6 Serve with a crisp green salad with a hint of chopped tarragon just to make the most of it.
- Sunday Star Times
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