By Jane Gibb
There’s no better way to celebrate the awakening of spring and the beginning of the alfresco dining season than a lazy lunch.
My morning ritual of sun salutations welcomes the day ahead. Following my asana practice is when I think about preparing my lazy lunch.
Spring is truly a captivating time of the year at Griffins Hill. Brilliant sunshine and clear blue sky, sparkling trees and our grand mountains promise to smile on our dining table. This is what draws me outside into the garden.
Picking a feast of fresh spring produce in the crisp morning air with the resident magpies in full song in the trees above is all part of the lazy lunch experience. (The magpie chatter reminds me to find them some worms and fill the birdbath on the way back to the house.)I use to scissors to pick broad beans. They’re small enough to eat both pod and bean. With no shelling or peeling the beans are a time-saver, not to mention the benefits of the high fibre from both.
Selecting snow peas, lettuce and the herbs, I gradually pick my way around the garden. I can practically taste the fragrance of the fresh herbs and my mouth begins to water in anticipation of what's ahead.
Frank’s sour-dough bread – left to rise overnight – is now waiting to go in the oven, and the vegetables are ready for preparation.
It’s a sweet spring beginning to a long and languid lunch.
The selection from my garden can be easily turned into a number of delicious, easy to cook dishes.
Lettuce and pea soup (chop two cloves of garlic, one onion and ingredients of choice bring to the boil then leave simmering on the stove for a couple of hours). Serve with dollops of sour cream and the fresh sour dough-bread.
Spicy chick pea salad: mix the chick peas with the snow peas, dill and pumpkin frittata (pre-cooked and chopped). Locally produced cheeses, humus, and lightly seared fresh asparagus.
Home make plum ice cream with preserved quinces. Serve with tea (herbal options) and coffee with a selection of hand-made chocolates.
Preparing the laziest lunch
To make sure the cook gets to enjoy the lazy lunch along with the guests, preparation is key. It will also allow for a slow and luxurious cooking experience.
Plan the meal carefully. Consider quantities and how much time is needed for each dish to cook. This will avoid long delays between meals. You may consider serving the main and entrée together.
Keep the following suggestions in mind:
- 1. Chick peas need to be soaked overnight. Then they are ready to drain and cook in the pressure cooker for five minutes. Strain and keep the liquid for stock.
- 2. Set the table early using the minimal number of plates needed for each dish type. (Don’t forget the cutlery, serviettes and drinking cups). Arranging the soup bowl on top of the main course plate looks great and can be easily collected once the soup dish is devoured, leaving the main plate for the bread and salad self-servings.
- 3. Put the soup in a large serving dish with a ladle for self-serving from the table.
- 4. Present the bread on a breadboard with a suitable knife. The guests can slice their own.
- 5. For refreshment, a jug of cool water with lemon or lime will quench thirsts.
Creating the atmosphere
With such an early start to preparing and cooking the meal, the fragrance of lunch will fill the kitchen and emanate from the house as guests arrive. Nothing beats the scent of freshly baked bread and spices from the soup and salad.
Consider who you have invited, if it is a group of people who haven’t met each other before, you might want to consider icebreakers to get the conversation going.
With all your most loved platters, plates and cutlery on the table and the aroma of a lazy lunch, guests quickly absorb the mood: for a good time, a great meal and easy conversation.
As the sun sets and as the temperature drops, the journey home will begin. Send your guests home with a warm and enduring memory of the day by packing them a parcel of fresh produce from your garden.
Join over 2,000 of your peers and get fortnightly articles delivered to your in box.