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Spring has sprung! Hurrah! The first day of spring saw me in Auckland in the miserable rain collecting lemons off my sister’s lemon tree. The availability of free fresh citrus and MooChowChow restaurant on Ponsonby Rd are the only things to have ever tempted me to the City of Sails. I came home with 6 kg of lemons as carry-on. I squeeze fresh lemons on pretty much every food, much like my Aunt Vivienne did with tomato sauce. This recipe is very adaptable: I took what vegetables my flatmates had got at the vege market, cooked them, and added deliciousness in the form of parsley pesto and halloumi.
For 2 mains or 4 sides:
2 capsicums (red is my favourite)
100 g mushrooms
oil for cooking
200 g packet of halloumi
70 g packet of hazelnuts
70 g packet of hazelnuts (or pine nuts if you’re prepared to shell out $5 for them)
2 fistfuls of parsley/one plant from the supermarket
1 lemon, juiced and zested
3 tablespoons parmesan
2 teaspoons minced garlic
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Slice the eggplant in half and then cut the halves lengthwise into slices 1 cm thick.
Cut the capsicums into long slices about 3 cm across. Cut the mushrooms in half. Arrange the vegetables on a baking tray and douse gently with olive oil (or regular oil). Grill at 180 °C for 15–20 minutes, turning once or twice, until the skin of the capsicums has blistered and the eggplant is soft.
Brown both packets of hazelnuts in an oil-free pan at a medium heat for a few minutes until you start to smell them and the skins start to peel off. Remove from heat and divide the hazelnuts into two even amounts: use one for the pesto and reserve one to garnish the dish with.
While the vegetables cook, blend the pesto ingredients all together. Add some cold water to help it blend, if need be – be careful though: I always add too much and then have to try to thicken the pesto with more nuts. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Slice the halloumi into pieces 1 or 2 cm thick. Fry in a pre-heated pan for 2–3 minutes at medium–high, flipping the pieces once they brown.
Pour the pesto over the vegetables and mix thoroughly. Plate this up, then place the halloumi and the hazelnuts on top.