BAKED TOMATOES WITH BLUE CHEESE, MINT & CRUSHED POTATOES

Baked Tomatoes with Blue Cheese, Mint and Crushed Potatoes.

I find ‘end of the week’ cooking extremely gratifying. Unless I’m doing a small roast where there are certain things you need to have in the pantry or fridge to get the job done, Friday’s to me are usually days for cleaning out your Kitchen. Using up ingredients that are three seconds away from suicide is always a gratifying act for me and it allows me to not only give a sigh of relief to my bank account as a reminder that I can cook resourcefully, but also a sigh of relief to myself that I was able to put something together out of nothing at all. Much like some of my relationships.

Don’t shudder at my combination of potatoes and mint. There is something incredibly soothing about this combination that both surprised and pleased my mouth. Again, there was no particular design here other than giving my fridge and pantry a little run through and using a few things up. However the cheese was deliberate. The cheese was on purpose. The cheese was a chosen ingredient because for as much as I love vegetarian dishes when the time snatches me, a Friday is not designed for anything that doesn’t come without cheese and if I’m not having roast animals damn it, I will have a wedge of blue cheese on everything I consume.

The construction to this dish really is up to you. Play around with the pulse you use, substitute the blue cheese perhaps for some crumbly feta or even a few slices of goat’s cheese. You could even play around with substituting the mint for some basil – however I do have to admit there is something about the bitter sweetness of the roast tomatoes against the cool hit of the mint surrounded by the blue cheese that is slowly softening on the backdrop of potatoes.

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Preheat the oven to 200C. Halve a few tomatoes and place them arse down in a shallow dish. Drain a can of butterbeans and scatter over the tomatoes. Douse gently with some oil, sprinkle over a little sea and pour over a small shotglass of white wine vinegar. Place in the oven for 40 minutes.

Bring a large pan of water to boil and drop some new potatoes with some salt. Bring back to a boil, drop to a simmer and allow to bubble gently in the water for 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and allow to steam in a colander. Meanwhile, pour a little olive oil in a frying pan and grate in a clove or two of garlic. It’s better to grate garlic into cold oil and allow it to cook as the oil heats up because if you grate garlic into hot oil, its cooks instantly and then burns the more you cook. Scatter in a little dried rosemary.

Tip the steamed potatoes into the pan and roll around in the garlic rosemary oils. Once evenly coated, crush each potato with the back of a fork and then pour on to your serving plates. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and gently – as the tomatoes will be hot – ladle the tomato and bean mixture on to the crushed potatoes.

Crumble over some cold blue cheese and give everything a kind twist of black pepper. Finally, finely chop up some fresh mint (finally, finely? Love that!) – and scatter over the plate. Serve smugly.

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If you are serving this to your friends or family on a Friday (or any day of the week, if I’m being honest) you don’t have to tell them that this is a product of resourcefulness. People will just think you’ve been slightly hap handed and mad in the Kitchen (potatoes and mint – what a nutter) but they will indeed thank you for it.

This is best washed down with a really cold glass of white wine. And I never thought I’d say this but you won’t miss the meat. The blue cheese does give some soul to this dish so you won’t really be asking where the dead chicken is.

Although that is a question I often ask over dinner.

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