Politicians and their plates: Maree Todd makes orecchiette
Children's minister Maree Todd making orecchiette - Image credit: Maree Todd
Describe your favourite plate of food.
Orecchiette with chilli, garlic and greens. A large plate, with more in the pan (I nearly always have seconds), and freshly grated parmesan and black pepper for the top.
Why is it so special?
I started making it quite regularly when we used to get an organic veggie box. I loved getting fresh local produce, but it was a bit of a challenge being presented with ingredients to cook rather than choosing what to cook and going shopping. We often got broccoli, sometimes purple sprouting, kale and greens. All of them would dominate a soup but work well in this! I guess I’m saying it started as a way to use up greens but became a family staple. You can’t beat chilli and garlic with robust greens. We can’t remember where the recipe came from but I am always looking for new recipes and am in a foodie book club – gathering with friends to share food and chat about books – what’s not to like?
Who have you shared this plate of food with and what was the occasion?
It’s a family staple since we went to Puglia on holiday last year. It’s my easy comfort meal in Edinburgh too. It’s quick, can work for one. The leftovers – if there are any – freeze and microwave well. I made it for my big sister this summer – she’s a chef – and it passed muster.
More generally, what’s your most memorable meal and why?
I love cooking with my sister – she makes everything look fantastic and carries it all off effortlessly. She lives in Ireland now, so I have been known to ping her photos of veg I couldn’t identify from my box and say what on earth do I do with this? I love a good gathering, so a summer barbecue with everyone bringing salads and puds, or a winter feast. My eldest was a millennium baby so we celebrate her birthday at New Year – for the last few years that’s been a Mexican feast – spicy bird tacos, green rice, citrusy chick peas, guacamole.
Have you ever had any culinary disasters?
Loads. I first started making tablet for my dad when I was a child. It took me years to master it – well into adulthood. Memorably I once delivered his Father’s Day tablet in jug! I thought he could pour it on ice cream.
What would be your last meal of choice?
I think for me the company might be more significant than the food. I would definitely like to be at home, with my family.
What’s your comfort food?
I love a fresh plain loaf with butter and jam. Of course, the heel is the best bit. A rare treat these days. I like whippy ice cream too.
Is there any plate of food that you would never eat?
I’ve been vegetarian since my teens, so I don’t eat meat or fish.
What is your favourite thing on the Scottish Parliament menu?
I like the food in parliament – its way better than the hospital canteen at my last job! I like that they use pulses, not just eggs and cheese for their veggie options. The salad bar is really tasty, and I love the curries. They have a bit of kick in them. Often canteen curries are tamed down to appeal to a broader palette.