Samphire and Faded Jeans
Samphire is what I used to think Corinne Bailey Rae was singing about in Put Your Records On. “Samphire and faded jeans, I hope you get your dreams, just go ahead let your hair dowwwwn.” Alright, I know that makes no sense, but I had visions of cheery folks in stonewash denim sat in roadside country cafes, chowing down on bowls of buttered, salty veg.
It was because of this song that I always wanted to try samphire but never found it when I happened to be shopping. I was later crushed to find out that Corinne was actually singing “Sapphire and faded jeans”. Suddenly that magical image was shattered, along with the teeth of those not so happy diners munching on precious stones. I thought she was just slinking over the M in that syrupy way all jazz singers do. Ah well.
Last summer samphire seemed to be one of the trendy vegetables, and I’m a sucker for hip ingredients. I’m also silly for anything that comes from the beach. Stick the word ‘coastal’ in front of anything and I’ll have it in my trolley in a heartbeat. ‘New Coastal Scented Toilet Cleaner’ – I’ll have it. ‘Coastal Cocktails made with real, stinking sea water’ – I’ll take a pitcher please, Mr. Bartender.’ Samphire is a coastal plant. The kind of thing Rick Stein tosses in a pan while freezing his nuts off on some stormy Cornish beach. I wanted it!
Last summer was a bust, but I recently got my hands on some samphire and was stupidly excited to finally have it in my grasp.
I then realised I had no idea what to do with it. Faced with a gloomy Saturday evening I decided to dig out a basic nectarine salad recipe and play around with it. Invention is my favourite kind of cookery. I talk myself through it like I’m on Masterchef, explaining my creation to John Torode and Gregg Wallace. They are always dazzled by my genius.
I blanched some green beans, adding the samphire for just a minute at the end. It seemed delicate, so I didn’t want to over cook it. While buying the samphire I also bought some patty pan baby squashes. I’d never cooked them before but decided to wing it and stick them under the grill with some olive oil, salt and pepper.
Everything else was just a chop and assemble job.
Everything else included….
yellow flesh nectarines
and aged feta
I also peppered the plate, sprinkled some smoked Maldon salt and dressed the salad with some of the warm olive oil from the patty pan grilling tray.
I loved the samphire. It’s far saltier than I was expecting, but not in an unpleasant way . It’s the kind of saltiness you feel on your lips when you’ve been swimming in the sea, which is certainly evocative. Food’s ability to transport you to a certain place or time with just a simple flavour never fails to amaze me.