27 May 2016 No Cook Savoury
Since this beautiful loaf is made in advance and then left to set, it is perfect for a fuss-free dinner party. It is also a great item to have in the fridge for nibbling on at snack time, or for lunch. The lattice top isn’t as tricky as it might look and is worth attempting for the lovely finished effect. If you can’t master it, don’t let that put you off – strips of courgette all laid in one direction also look charming. Most loaf tins are wider at the top, so each layer of goats’ cheese requires a slightly different quantity in order for them to all end up the same thickness when turned out. However, if your mould is of uniform width all the way up then simply use 100g of goats’ cheese for each layer.
Put a kettle on to boil, about a quarter full.
Pour the oil into a wide, shallow dish and add the lemon zest and juice and the garlic. Season with a little salt and pepper and mix everything together well. Slice the courgettes into long thin ribbons using a mandolin or vegetable peeler. Toss through the oil mixture until well coated and leave for 15 minutes to marinate and soften.
Trim the woody ends of the asparagus until the spears are half the length of the loaf tin. Place them in a wide bowl with a little salt, and pour over enough just-boiled water to cover. Cover and leave for about 5 minutes until al dente.
Beat the goats’ cheese in a medium bowl to loosen it up. Season to taste and set aside.
Dab the roasted peppers and olives with kitchen paper to soak up any excess liquid or oil. Cut the olives in half and set aside.
Drain the asparagus well, refresh in ice-cold water and drain again. Drain the courgettes over a medium bowl, allowing excess marinade to drip off and reserving it for later.
Lay out a large double layer of cling film. Arrange strips of courgette touching each other in a single layer to result in a 20 x 30cm rectangle. Weave the remaining strips across in the opposite direction, bringing them under and over the first layer to give a lattice effect. Trim as necessary to fit and neaten.
Carefully lift the cling film, with the courgettes still on top, into the loaf tin, pressing it evenly into the base and edges of the tin. Leave the excess cling film and courgette ends hanging over the edge.
Spread 75g of the goats’ cheese in an even layer in the bottom of the tin, being careful not to disturb the courgettes. Arrange the roasted peppers on top in an even layer, followed by 100g more goats’ cheese. Next, arrange the asparagus spears lengthways in two rows and again top with 100g of goats’ cheese. Sprinkle the olives on top in an even layer and finally spread with the last 125g of the cheese. Flip the excess courgette and cling film over the top and chill in the fridge for at least 8 hours or overnight, until set firm. This can be made up to two days in advance.
When ready to serve, remove the loaf from the tin by opening out the cling film and inverting the whole thing onto a long plate. Using a long, sharp knife, dipped in boiled water and wiped dry between every slice, cut it into eight even-sized pieces. Arrange two on each serving plate and drizzle balsamic glaze around them. Toss the basil and salad leaves in the reserved marinade and arrange on each plate. Scatter with pine nuts and serve with crispbreads or slices of toasted sourdough.
For a twist…
• Serve with basil pesto instead of (or in addition to) the balsamic glaze.
• Use slices of mozzarella instead of goats’ cheese, if you prefer.
Photo (c) Cristian Barnett
50ml extra virgin olive oil
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 small, thin courgettes
20 fine asparagus spears (about 175g, at room temperature)
400g soft, rindless goats’ cheese (at room temperature)
250g roasted red peppers (from a jar)
150g pitted black olives
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp balsamic glaze
Large handful of fresh basil leaves
100g mixed salad leaves
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
8 crispbreads or slices of toasted sourdough (choose gluten-free options if necessary)
Mandolin (or vegetable peeler)
1-litre loaf tin (10 x 20cm at the top)