My body needs pulses. It needs fish. It needs tomatoes. It needs apples and it needs nuts. This is a standard situation, but it’s one made more acute by what I’ve been consuming for the past twelve days.

None of those are things which appear that frequently on the menus of restaurants in Bruges, Salzburg and Baden Baden. And if they do, they’re often soused with butter, pastry and paired with a gross excess of sausage. We spent the last eleven days in a family sized car gallivanting across ‘The Continent’. It was a glorious mash of autobahns/meat/cabbage/schnitzel/cake and beer. The Hungry One was in his element. He could hardly wipe the grin off his face.

He was genetically designed to eat that kind of food. His father was born in Salzburg and his grandfather spent many years in that same city as a baker. Back in Sydney The Hungry One has t shirts stashed in a storage container; wearable trophies from conquering schnitzel eating challenges. But after three days of living this sort of life, my slighter very English/Antipodean constitution starts to turn a little green around the gills. I’ll order strudels, just so I can pick out the cooked apple from the centre. I’ll duck off cobbled streets into dimly lit mini marts, in desperate search for tubs of yoghurt. And I’ll order a salad as a side dish with every meal- despite knowing full well what I’ll eat will probably be a limp bowl of lettuce, a quarter of a tomato, some shaved carrot and soused with a creamy dressing. The greatest of #firstworldproblems , I’m sure.

I don’t have that many terrific things to say about Luxembourg. In fact, we weren’t kind to it at all on the one night we were briefly there- it was sandwiched between Germany and our final night in Lille. We may have even referred to it as a country that nobody wants.  It might have been the teeming rain. It might have been the pungent smell of cigarette smoke embedded in every cafe, hotel and restaurant we walked into. And it may have been the appalling service we faced everywhere we went. But it does boast enough of a French accent to host the occasional croque monsieur on a menu. And at ths stage of the trip, I’d never been so happy to eat something as simple as a toasted ham and cheese in my life (nb, for those concerned, The Hungry One still found a way to consume sausages for lunch – even in Luxembourg).

And as for our stowaway? Well, it seems he really does have half his dad’s genetics. He thrived. He’s put on an enormous growth spurt, fuelled and fired by a concentrated dose of his own edible heritage.

But now we’re home. The car was safely returned to Budget Waterloo, the loads of washing were done, the Hungry One’s souvenir cufflinks have been unpacked. And I’m back in my domain.

Which is where this dinner comes to the fore.

It’s  full of the kind of things I crave- a rustic rumple of a warm salad, with some quick cooking protein on the side. It’s got a slight Spanish/Portuguese accent and is charmingly low maintenance- the oven does most of the work for you. It just takes a bit of forethought in how you layer your baking dish.

Place the rinsed and drained chickpeas at the bottom- this way they can soak up the juices that leech out of the other elements. Above that place diced banana shallot or red onion and some chopped apple. The apple may sound a little wild, but cooked it adds a pleasing texture and a subtle note of sweetness that sings in exactly the same tune as the onion and chorizo. Then place some halved cherry tomatoes, cut side up so they can blister and pucker. After 45 minutes in the oven tumble over some hazelnuts, so they can toast.  If you have the stem from the cherry tomatoes, lay that over the top- the smell that comes from roasting tomato vines is all sorts of terrific.

You could of course mix it up- substitute drained white beans for chickpeas, almonds for hazelnuts and omit the chorizo if you felt like keeping it vegetarian, adding just a sprinkle of smoked paprika instead.

All that it needs is a zesty dressing of flat leaf parsley, olive oil and red wine vinegar and some protein on the side. I went for cod, though really any firm fleshed white fish or some chicken would do.

For the best novelty value, eat it while encouraging your husband to recount just how many schnitzels he ate over the last 11 days- and then bemoan the fact that he hasn’t even got one t shirt to mark the achievement.

Cod with Chickpeas, Chorizo, Apple and Tomato

Serves 2 hungry ones

Shopping/foraging

1 x 400 gram tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 banana shallots (or 1 red onion)
3 garlic cloves
1 pink lady apple, peeled, cored and cut into walnut sized pieces
12 -14 vine cherry tomatoes, halved (vine reserved, if you have it)
12  hazelnuts
60 grams of chorizo, cut into small dice

Dressing
Handful of flat leaf parsley, leaves picked
4 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Optional protein

2 x 150 – 200 gram pieces of cod, skin on (or kingfish, seabass, or any other firm, white flesh fish). Could easily substitute for grilled chicken, or a poached egg.

Here’s how we roll

1) Preheat the oven to 180C/350 F.

2) Chop the peeled apple into pieces about the size of a walnut. Do the same for the shallot/onion and halve the cherry tomatoes. Cut the chorizo into chunks the same size as the hazelnuts.

3) Take a baking dish, about the size of an A4 sheet of paper. In the bottom lay the rinsed and drained chickpeas. Over the top lay the apple pieces, onion, whole garlic cloves then the tomatoes and chorizo chunks – this layering will help ensure the chickpeas don’t dry out too much, the tomatoes blister and the apple and onion soften. If you have the tomato stem, place it over the top- there is great tomato aroma in the stem which if it goes in the oven, will make your kitchen smell pretty great.

4) Roast for 45 minutes, until the tomatoes have puckered, chorizo leached some crimson oil and the onion and apple have softened.

5) Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the top and return the whole dish to the oven for another 15 minutes so they can toast.

6) To make the dressing take pluck out the three roasted garlic cloves and add to a small blender (be sure to remove their skins first). Add the picked parsley leaves, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Blitz to make a lurid green slurry. Add the red wine vinegar and blitz to emulsify. Taste. Add more salt or vinegar if needed.

7) Cook your protein- in this instance pan fry the cod fillets, skin side down and salted in a hot pan until the flesh turns opaque half way up, then flip to the second side to seal. Turn the heat down to very low and allow to cook for another two minutes while you transfer the chickpea salad and dressing to the plates. The fish will be cooked when a knife inserted to the middle comes out feeling warm to touch.  You could easily substitute the cod with any other firm flesh white fish, a poached egg or chicken breasts.