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Recipe: Seafood Orzo Salad by Rosie Birkett

Food writer, presenter, chef, stylist and author of A Lot On Her Plate, it’s fair to say that with Rosie Birkett, you’ve got every aspect of the food industry rolled into one brilliant person.

She’s written for everyone from The Guardian, Olive Magazine and The Telegraph to working as Contributing Editor of BBC Good Food. She’s appeared on Masterchef and Saturday Kitchen and made it her career to know everything about food – from farms to fine dining.

Today she’s sharing a recipe made from the love and dedication of her mother as part of our week-long recipe release in celebration of Severn Sisters Feast and women in food.

Rosie says: “This is an inherited recipe from my mum, who is one of the best cooks I know. She’s made it for me many times, and over the years I’ve adapted it to my taste. There’s just something so wonderful about the silky orzo, crunchy pine nuts and sweet seafood with the intense oven dried tomatoes. It never fails to please guests. You can adapt it according to what you can source and what you fancy – I sometimes add clams, cockles or little brown shrimp, and it’s also perfectly lovely with mussels.”

There’s only two more days until the event itself so make sure not to miss out on our last recipes! As for now, we spoke to Rosie to find out a little bit more about why food is so important to her.

What does food mean to you?
“Food is everything to me. It’s really my life. I think that food is the most incredible part of human culture – we take simple, humble ingredients and transform them into something which nourishes and pleasures us. It’s something that’s both essential to survival but also one of life’s most enriching experiences – and I love that about it. Whenever I travel the first thing I do is find the real local food of the place I’m in – because it’s a sure-fire short-cut into the heart and soul of a place.”

What was your earliest or most impactful memory of food?
“Food was the center of my family’s world growing up. It’s hard to say the first memory (my memory is awful), but there is a photo of me from my christening with my hands outstretched for the cake, my eyes and smile wide – I’ve always been a gannet. Defining memories include fishing for trout, foraging mushrooms/cobnuts and digging up homegrown produce with my dad as a kid in Kent.

Why is it important to you to provide a platform for female talent?
“I love working with, learning from, and supporting other women. I’ve always loved the company of women and it’s so nice to work in an industry where there are plenty of fellow females with a drive and passion for food. Working in the kitchen with other women who are equally as fanatical about eating and cooking is such a joy!”

What advice would you give to your younger self & what advice would you give to other women looking to get into the industry?
“Just get stuck in! When I was younger and first starting out as a food writer, nine years ago, I felt like professional kitchens were not a place for me, they seemed so stiff and macho. But things have changed so much, now there are plenty of women in professional kitchens and other ways in which you can get into food – be it through pop ups, events or street food. There’s never been a better time.”

Recipe: Seafood Orzo Salad by Rosie Birkett

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WRITTEN By:
Maria Bell

Maria Bell is a photographer and editor from the Isle of Wight. Talk to her about food and/or photography and she'll always be listening.

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ingredients

-200 g (7 oz) cherry tomatoes, halved
-extra-virgin olive oil
-sea salt and freshly
-ground black pepper
-1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
-300 g (10. oz) cleaned squid (ask your fishmonger to
clean it for you)
-grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
-2 garlic cloves, crushed
-10 g ( 1/2 oz) pine nuts
-5 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
-300 g (10 ½ oz) orzo pasta
-1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
-1 green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
-12 raw king prawns, shells on
-300 g (10 1/2 oz) shelled, cooked prawns
-1 tablespoon finely chopped
-flat-leaf parsley leaves
-1 tablespoon finely chopped
-chives

Photography – Helen Cathcart.

1.

Preheat the oven to 140°C (280°F/Gas 1).

2.

Coat the tomato halves in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, lay on a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, and scatter over the thyme leaves. Roast for 1 hour, until slightly shrivelled, concentrated and softened. Remove from the oven and set aside.

3.

Now prepare the squid. Keep the tentacles whole, because they look good in a salad, but with a sharp knife, cut the body pouches down one side, wiping with kitchen paper, and open them out on a chopping board. Remove any leftover membrane or innards, and lightly score with a cross-hatch pattern with the tip of the knife. Cut the squid into 5 cm (2 in) pieces and put them in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper, and 1 teaspoon of the crushed garlic.

4.

Cover and leave to marinate while you prep the other ingredients.

5.

Put the pine nuts in a dry frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat, and toast them until golden, tossing them in the pan occasionally. Remove and set aside.

6.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the frying pan over a low heat, add the spring onions and cook for about 4 minutes, until they’re soft but not golden. Set aside.

7.

Cook the orzo pasta in a very large saucepan of boiling water, according to packet instructions (normally 5–6 minutes), until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water. Transfer to a large bowl, and, once cool, pour over a glug of olive oil and fork through the pasta to separate the ‘grains’.

8.

Heat some more olive oil in a wok or heavy-based frying pan (skillet) until very hot. Add half the chopped red and green chillies, followed by the squid, and cook, shaking the pan or using a wooden spoon to stir fry it for about 2 minutes. The body sections should curl up into tubes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

9.

Adding a little bit more oil if you need to, cook the king prawns in the wok or frying pan (skillet) for about 4 minutes until they turn red. When they are cool enough to handle, peel most of them and remove the black intestinal tract running down the back of them with a sharp knife. You can leave a couple in the shell for presentation.

10.

Once cooled slightly, mix the squid, king prawns and shelled prawns, remaining chilli, lemon zest and remaining juice, parsley, tomatoes, pine nuts and spring onions into the orzo. Garnish with chives, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle over a touch more olive oil.

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