There are many things for which I have to thank lovely Joan, not least because she cheered me up no end when we first moved back to New Zealand (and continues to do so, even though she lives much further than a stroll away). The latest is a concept so brilliant I have to share it with you. It is the marvellous Nibbly Tea.
A Nibbly Tea, Joan explained, is what you have for dinner when you don't know what to have for dinner. "You just open the fridge and pull all those little bits of things out," she said, retrieving all manner of delicious tidbits from her own fridge.
It took one Nibbly Tea and we were hooked. Now we have them at least once a week - or sometimes twice - and a really good Nibbly Tea will even have leftovers for lunch the next day.
At its most basic at our house (as seen above), a Nibbly Tea will involve some sort of carbohydrate, like crostini or oven wedges, with baby gherkins, olives, some hummus, crudites and green leaves of some kind, perhaps a bowl of green beans and some haloumi or other cheese.
If we've got people over, we might push the boat out a bit, with lamb chops rubbed with rosemary and lemon, and a bit more of a salad. The idea is that you nibble on all of these things (ideally with a glass of wine) and hey presto, that's dinner sorted.
The Nibbly Tea can be themed - ours are mostly mid-Med with a definite Greekish slant (haloumi, dolmades out of a tin, olives, lamb, tzatziki) but we've also had Asian Nibbly Teas (a kind of gado gado, with peanut sauce, lots of crudites, boiled eggs and crunchy noodles) and a vaguely Mexi-Cali one (tortillas, avocado, salsa, spicy beans). On Saturday night we had visitors so I added a few dishes from Jerusalem, which is full of excellent Nibbly Tea ideas (even though they are a little bit more involved than just opening the fridge).
Nibbly Teas are very child-friendly and they usually require minimal preparation. What I love most about the Nibbly Tea though is that no matter how empty the fridge may seem, there is generally always something in there in the condiments line to make a meal more exciting. And sitting down to eat all these things, rather than poking a fork into the odd jar at random, makes it more of an occasion. I am totally hooked.
Are you familiar with the Nibbly Tea idea? Do you have any suggestions?