Serrano ham with pears, griddled chicory and hazelnut picada
Serves 1 Prep time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 15 minutes A lot of effort for just one person? That’s the attitude you need to shift if you’re going to be a singleton and eat well. You are worth the effort. Picada is Spanish and works very well treated like a gremolata, adding a final rush of flavours to salads and stews. Ingredients 1 ripe pear 2 tbsp lemon juice 3 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar About 1/2 tsp caster sugar 10g watercress 1 head of red or white chicory, quartered lengthways and trimmed at the base 6 slices of serrano ham For the picada 1 tbsp olive oil 20g coarse bread, in 2cm square chunks 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced 12g blanched hazelnuts, toasted Zest of 1/2 unwaxed lemon (removed with a zester) 1/2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley 1/4 tsp sherry vinegar 1/2 tbsp amontillado sherry For the dressing 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar 1/4 tsp sherry vinegar 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil Good pinch of sugar Dash of amontillado sherry (add it to taste) Method Make the picada first. Heat 1/2 tbsp of the oil in a small frying pan and sauté the bread until it’s pale gold (it can go too dark very quickly, so keep an eye on it). Remove from the pan on to a piece of kitchen paper. Put the rest of the oil in the same pan and fry the garlic until pale gold. Put the bread, garlic, hazelnuts and lemon zest into a mortar and pound until you have a rubble-like mixture. Add the parsley, sherry vinegar and amontillado sherry (you can add the vinegar and sherry to taste if you prefer). Season with salt and pepper. For the dressing, just whisk everything together with a fork, along with some salt and pepper. Taste to see if you need to make any adjustments, bearing in mind that this will be going on to bitter leaves. Halve, core and slice the pear lengthways, and drop it into the lemon juice – this will stop the flesh discolouring. Mix the olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Lift the pear slices out of the lemon juice, shaking off the excess, and put them in the bowl with the vinegar and oil. Heat a griddle pan or a frying pan until very hot. Cook the pear slices until they are soft but not falling apart, adding a sprinkling of caster sugar to help them turn gold. Season and put in a shallow bowl (something like a pasta bowl). Put the watercress leaves in the olive oil and balsamic mixture and leave them for about 10 minutes, turning them over. Heat the pan again and griddle the quarters of chicory, turning them over. You don’t want them to get black so be careful. The outer leaves should be charred, but the inner leaves firm. Add these to the bowl with the pears, followed by the watercress and the serrano ham – you can leave the slices whole or tear them in half. Add the dressing – don’t use it all if you don’t need to – and scatter the picada on top. Serve.