I have, over the last few months, graduated from studentdom and become a proper adult. I now pay council tax, have too much laundry and made my ever first visit to Halfords to buy a special treat for my pet car. Such good work, Freeborn! Do reward yourself with an after-work nap and quick browse of the finest butter dishes eBay has to offer.
However, there is one part of me that just can’t let go of studenthood: I still haven’t grasped the notion of regular mealtimes.
Look, I don’t bother with breakfast unless it’s at least two courses, which is impractical when work starts at 8am. I then plan dismally for lunch, often arriving with no more than a tin of mackerel and a limp carrot to sustain me through til 4:30pm. Silly bugger. When I explode through the door at 5, I am so ravenous I could dip chair legs in hot sauce and be grateful for the sustenance.
Usually this rampant hunger drives me to make something filling and delicious to gobble at about 5:15 pm, meaning I’m not hungry for dinner at all until about 10:30pm. Which is inconvenient, because due to my new adult lifestyle, that’s now exactly bed-o-clock.
There are, of course, multiple solutions to the issues I have created for myself, but this recipe (yes, we’d get there eventually) is not one of them; instead it is part of the bloody problem. It is a delicious 5:15pm mega-snack which takes 10 minutes to make and eat when you get through the door.
I could bang on here about fat and umami and salt and comfort and acidity and freshness, but I won’t. You can just arrange all those words in your head how you like, then try this dish.
Balsamic Mushrooms with Halloumi and basil – serves one ravenous young professional
- Half a pack of mushrooms which might be a wee bit past it
- Nice olive oil
- A knob of butter
- A quarter of a block of halloumi, sliced so you get 4 or so slabs
- Black pepper & salt
- A handful of fresh basil
- A generous splash of balsamic vinegar
- Toast, if you want to have it on toast.
Slice your shrooms relatively thin (about £1 coin thickness) and let them colour gently in the olive oil and butter, grinding over some black pepper and a little bit of sea salt. Pan should be medium hotness. When they’re about 3/4 done and turning nice and golden, push them to the side of the pan and lay in your halloumi slices. Fry them until they’re golden on both sides, and then mix with the mushrooms, while you chop the basil roughly. Add half the basil to the pan and shuggle it all about, adding anything else you like here, really.
When everything’s nice and brown splosh a generous tablespoon of balsamic vinegar over it all, and then tip it onto some buttered toast. Top with the rest of the basil. If you think it needs more acidity, sploop a wee bit more balsamic over everything.
This shouldn’t work as well as it does, but it’s actually lovely.