© Patricia Niven

It is difficult to overstate how much we enjoy meeting the readers of this column in person, and how much we learn every time we do. Louisa-Jayne came to Honey & Smoke one night a couple of weeks ago for dinner, said how much she enjoys the recipes (thank you, Louisa!) but also mentioned having trouble tracking down some of the ingredients — a very fair comment that got us thinking. Nothing makes us happier than when our recipes get cooked in your homes — in fact, this is how we measure our success or failure at our job. In order to grab your attention a dish has to be special — and that sometimes means making a bit more of an effort, be it in shopping or in cooking. Yet it also needs to be accessible enough, otherwise you might just flick to the next page and have spag bol for dinner again. We try to find the right balance, and we’d love you to let us know when we miss and, if you can, when we get it right.

We think we’ve got it right with this one: a simple salad we tried in one of our favourite restaurants in Tel Aviv. It travelled back with us and is now a staple of our home and restaurant cooking alike. Sweet and crunchy courgettes, dried apricots, a touch of pistachio and a lemony dressing with lots of herbs. So simple to make, so lovely to eat, and all the ingredients available from the supermarket (though we would beg you to find small, firm courgettes from the new season, if you can).

As for Louisa-Jayne, further investigation revealed she lives in a part of south London with more than enough delis and fancy butchers, so no need to shed tears on her account. Still, if you make this salad and enjoy it, you owe her some thanks. Next week’s recipe will require a lot more work.

© Patricia Niven

Courgette, pistachio and apricot salad

For six as a starter or a side dish for eight

600g courgettes (use a mix of varieties if you can get hold of them)
1 tsp flaky sea salt
Juice of 1 lemon
150g dried apricots, finely sliced
2 tbs chopped thyme leaves (from one small bunch)
Bunch of dill, fronds roughly chopped (20g)
Bunch of mint, leaves picked and roughly chopped (20g)
Bunch of parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped (20g)
100g roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  1. If you are roasting your own pistachios, heat your oven to 170C. Spread out the pistachios in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for six to seven minutes. Remove, cool and then chop roughly.
  2. Wash the courgettes and dry well. Chop them into small pieces. We like chopping each variety into a slightly different shape — little dice, small rounds, half moons, for example. Season with the salt and lemon juice and mix well.
  3. Prepare all your other ingredients. When you are ready to eat, combine everything together, mix well and serve immediately.

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