I am now the proud grower of Swiss chard, and am always looking for new ways to cook it. I made this to accompany my spatchcock chicken with ras el hanout and my fennel and pepper salad for an outdoor lunch on the hottest day of the year. I also ribboned one of my home-grown courgettes and served it with a lemon and tarragon dressing. Washed down with my lemon barley water. Dessert was my baked apricots, not home-grown but from the farmers’ market so next best thing. All yum.
My guests were old friends from Kenya, editor of the Daily Star and wife Cathy, an ecologist, who I worked with at Heinemann all those years ago, and who I used to see in my Uganda Aga Khan days. The occasion – a presentation of my mother ‘s book The Arab Chest for the Muthaiga Club Library.
2lb 3oz small waxy new potatoes
1lb 1oz Swiss chard or spinach, stemmed and sliced into ribbons
For the pesto
10½oz peas, thawed if frozen or blanched for one minute if fresh
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Large handful of fresh basil leaves, plus a few extra for sprinkling
Juice of 1½ lemons, plus grated zest of one
1 tbsp peeled and freshly grated ginger
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper
Cook the potatoes in boiling, salted water until tender (about 15-20 minutes, depending on size). Drain and allow to cool, then peel.
Put the chard or spinach into a large, lidded saucepan and cook over a medium heat (no extra water needed) until wilted. Drain well in a colander or sieve, pushing out any water with the back of a spoon.
Put the peas in a food processor or liquidiser with 5 tbsp olive oil, the basil, juice and zest of one lemon, ginger and garlic and whizz briefly.
Season generously with salt and pepper. Put into the fridge until needed. The flavour of the pea purée improves when slightly chilled.
Place the potatoes in a large serving bowl, add the pea purée and then the chard or spinach and stir to combine.