Celery and parsnips don’t mix

When you cook the way I do – look at what you have available and try to make something from it, sometimes drawing on recipes, sometimes not – then you find out that occasionally your bright ideas don’t pan out. The infamous sweet potato fish pie springs to mind. I actually followed a recipe for that one, but I should have known better. It was a little different yesterday. I wasn’t following a recipe, I just made it up out of whole cloth and the result was really pretty bad. The basic outlines went OK. I had planned to make polenta and some kind of nice sauce to go on it and to have baby zucchini fried with basil leaves and lemon on the side. The polenta was fine, the zucchini were excellent, but the sauce was another story. I looked in the fridge and we had parsnips, spring onions and celery that needed using. Instead of doing the sensible thing (parsnips as a side dish) and something like crispy celery, onion, sage and bacon on top, I made single sauce from parsnips, celery, spring onions, a little tomato and some canned peppers (plus a few other things to perk up the flavor). It was terrible. Never mix celery and parsnips.

I’ll give you the outline of the zucchini, though – they were good.

Fried Basil and Baby Zucchini

I used a pound of baby zucchini (three to four inches long each) and a big bunch of basil. I got a couple of tablespoons of olive oil really hot in a non-stick pan and added about half the basil and let it begin to crisp up. Then I carefully layered on top the zucchini so that they all were lying flat in the pan and I let it cook for about five minutes on medium high. Then I carefully stirred them all to get more of the other side of the zucchini into contact with the pan, added a lemon’s worth of juice and about a teaspoon of salt, the rest of the basil went on top. I let it cook for three minutes more and turned the heat off and covered the pan and let it sit for five minutes. It would probably have been even better if all the basil had gone in at first and then I had actively stirred the pan for the eight minutes of direct cooking.

The polenta got its second legs this morning when I made fried polenta and eggs for breakfast and there is still more left for another breakfast or lunch for everyone.

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