I actually think it’s pretty hard to cook a roast for two. Supermarket portions are generally for four and you can be lumbered at the end with a load of leftovers that you don’t necessarily want or need. Also, warmer weather calls for a rejig of the traditional roast… personally, I don’t want a roast potato or Yorkshire pudding when it’s warm outside and I’m drinking rosé.
This dinner has all the ritual of a roast but is lightened up for Spring and can easily be done for two (or four!). You will probably have some leftover roast chicken but that’s always a bonus in my mind.
Keep things casual and follow your instincts: if you don’t like fennel, substitute with artichoke or spinach and if you don’t like porcini, fry off some chestnut mushrooms in garlic and butter before mixing with the rice. This sort of cooking is all about combining the flavours you really like. It should all be served at room temperature.
For the rice and porcini salad: Cook 80g-100g of whole grain basmati rice in some stock per packet instructions. Meanwhile soak 20g of porcini mushrooms in hot water. When the rice is cooked, put into a large bowl and mix with a very large handful of chopped parsley, the (drained and chopped) porcini mushrooms and a couple tablespoons of the porcini soaking liquid, the zest of one lemon, and a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and season with salt and pepper.
Ingredients: whole grain basmati rice, porcini mushrooms, parsley, extra virgin olive oil or hemp oil, lemon zest, sunflower seeds, salt and pepper.
For the fennel, parmesan and rocket salad: Finely slice half a large bulb of fennel (or one small/medium fennel) and reserve the fronds. In a large bowl, toss the fennel with the chopped fronds and a 70g bag of rocket. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of one lemon - toss thoroughly and season lightly. Shave a generous chunk of parmesan into the salad and gentle toss. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Ingredients: large bulb of fennel, bag of rocket, extra virgin olive oil, 1 lemon, parmesan.
For the sage roasted chicken: Stuff the chicken with half a lemon and half a small bunch of sage. Rest the chicken in a large roasting tray on top of the remaining sage. Rub with olive oil and season very generously with salt and a little pepper. Cook for the first two-thirds covered in foil and then for the final third without foil, allowing it to brown and gently crisp. When done, leave to rest on a carving board. Meanwhile, remove any excess oils from the roasting tray with a spoon. Place the tray on a high heat and deglaze with a glass of dry white wine and a squeeze of lemon. Add 1 tbsp plain flour and cook until fully absorbed, stirring constantly. You want a thick zingy sauce - not a gravy. Drizzle over the chicken and serve.
Ingredients: 1 whole chicken, bunch of sage, 1 lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper, white wine.