Saturday, 18 August 2012

A bit of Samphire Magic

I was supposed to send this in the beginning of the month whilst we were still in Brest. I had it all typed up and ready to go, pressed send and the internet failed... So here it is. A few weeks late and from our destination of Barcelona. Enjoy a little bit of home before we get all hot and sticky.

And there went July.

So here we are in Brest, back in the world of France. I know, we didn't get very far did we.
I was becoming nicely used to being in England despite the rain. And having had quite a few supermarket shops in France to replace food eaten and to thankfully fill my mended freezer, I am starting to miss it already.

We leave here tomorrow after lunch and will aim for Sanxenxo which will take approximately 4-5 days. Looking out to sea today, one is hoping that all those lumpy looking waves will have gone elsewhere by then. Oh I do dread a lumpy sea for deliveries...

The unfortunate incident of the freezer not working has now passed with huge sighs of relief, but as a consequence I have no bad-weather frozen food ready to hand. So I shall just have to grit my teeth and keep it simple if the weather doesn't improve much. They'll understand, they're a jolly nice crew. (So nice in fact that Billy is cooking dinner for everybody to give me a night off. He makes a fine Spag Bol does our Billy)

But really, I mean we are heading south! It should be getting warmer by the hour and sunnier and flatter and lovelier. Bikinis should start to emerge, the smell of sunscreen and Mediterranean food...
I finally have a recipe for you today! I know, It's been ages and I am sorry. After my little holiday I was on full-speed-ahead getting the boat ready for the delivery. I've been pretty busy with that and also with my wedding plans. It's funny how they start to sneak up on you and anything to do with a wedding seems to require you to book 6 months in advance. I struggle to plan my life a week in advance. I'm still trying to get over the fact that it's now August.

But none of that has anything to do with my recipe.

And back to missing the UK. You see, you can buy such lovely things like Samphire in the UK. A 'sea vegetable' with fresh crunch and charming saltiness that perks up a dish in all the right places. Samphire was named for the patron saint of fishing, Saint Pierre, because it grows in salt sprayed coastal areas and originally known as Sampiere, it is now largely known as Samphire although In Norfolk it is known as Sampha and in Northern Wales it is known as Sampkin.

And it is delicious! and well worth finding if you can. I bought two punnets in the Asda in Falmouth, so it can't be that hard to find!

Lightly steamed and tossed in some butter and black pepper is the easiest way to enjoy it, a little like you would asparagus and there is no need to cook it with added salt either, it really doesn't need it.
I added it to some gently cooked leeks, chopped fresh dill and lemon just before tossing it into a pan of al denté spaghetti and parmesan cheese. It was delicious and very easy and I'd love for you to have a go if you've never cooked with Samphire before.

And it isn't seaweed by the way. I might have over-heard a little converstaion between a pair of curious Asda customers having just bagged my little stash. He was all for trying some and she was definately not keen on eating what she was convinced was seaweed...

So for a right good little pasta with Samphire, leeks and lemon you will need;

1 packet of good spaghetti
About 200 g fresh Samphire, washed (1-2 punnets)
3 leeks finely sliced
1 bunch fresh dill, finely chopped so that you have 2 tbsp.
juice and zest of 2 lemons
3 cloves crushed garlic
lots of extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese


  • Put a very large pan of water on to boil for the spaghetti. Then in another pan gently saute the leeks in some olive oil and a very small knob of butter and half a tsp of sugar for about ten minutes. Add the crushed garlic and 1 tbsp of the chopped dill and some salt and pepper to taste and saute gently for another 5 minutes.Turn off the heat and add the chooped dill, lemon zest and juice and then toss in the samphire. The heat from the leeks will cook the samphire through enough and you definately still want a little crunch there.
  • When the water for the pasta is boiling well, add salt. Bring back to a good boil and then cook the spaghetti according to the instructions. When the spaghetti is ready to drain tip into a colunder but make sure you keep one ladleful or a half cup of the cooking water. This will help make your sauce.

  • Tip the spaghetti back into the pan with the saved water and the add the leek and samphire mixture. Grate in lots of fresh parmesan cheese and a good dollop of olive oil. When I say good dollop, I mean like 150ml.

  • Garnish with the remaining chopped dill and some lemon slices and serve with lots of yummy bread and salad and a nice cold glass of white wine... If you like.

  • Told you it was easy. The samphire works so well with all the flavours here to make a beautifully light lunch dish, but if you'd like you could add some fresh salmon and a dollop of creme fraiche and that would be pretty good too.

    Well I might go for a little wander around the streets of Brest before we head out to sea again. Not huge scope for excercise on a boat at sea. Mind you if it is rough then cooking in that galley becomes an amazing little work-out.

    So see you again in 5 days hopefully! With any luck we'll have attractive tans, we'll be all relaxed from lovely calm seas and lots of catching nice fish for lots of healthy fresh sushi.
    And then again...