The weather is getting warmer in Sydney and we’re heading into picnic season. Sydney enjoys summertime picnics like no other city I know. This may have something to do with the fact that there are a lot of waterside parks that make awesome picnic spots but, for what ever reason, the city’s attachment to the humble summertime picnic is quite an endearing feature of life here. There are a lot of things about living in Sydney that drive me crazy: the pathological obsession with real estate, crass materialism, lack of community and the stresses that go with living in one of the most expensive cities in the world… but, then there is this killer kickback – our democratic right to enjoy a picnic in our beautiful beach and harbourside parks.
My favourite picnic spot is Nielsen Park in the eastern suburbs. My partner always whinges about the drive over to the eastern suburbs, pointing out that there are plenty of beautiful picnic spots in the west but, for me, Nielsen Park has the perfect combination of features – lots of shade trees, a sheltered aspect, a lovely 1920s kiosk that sells good coffee, a sandy beach with rock pools, swimming and, importantly, (because despite myself, I’m a bit more paranoid about the increase in shark attacks) shark nets!, for that added piece of mind. Every time I have a picnic in Nielsen Park, I’m struck anew by what a beautiful city Sydney can be, making the hassles of living here somewhat worthwhile.
This baked omelette from Greece is like a slightly more sophisticated zucchini slice and it fits the bill perfectly for good, simple but delicious picnic food. It can be prepared hours in advance, served at al fresco temperature, as well as using up some of the over-abundance of summertime zucchinis. Add some freshly baked focaccia from the Haberfield Bakery and you have the makings of a feast – life can be so good.
Baked omelette with zucchini, leeks, feta and herbs
Adapted from Tapas to Meze by Joanne Weir
- ¼ cup long-grain rice
- ¾ cup of water
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 leeks, white and 2 inches of green chopped
- 3 unpeeled zucchini, coarsely grated
- 3 tablespoons, chopped fresh mint
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 8 eggs, lightly beaten
- 150 grams (5 ounces) feta cheese, crumbled.
- Bring rice, water and pinch of salt to boil in a small saucepan. Lower heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until water is absorbed.
- Preheat oven to 170°C (or 325°F), 150°C fan forced.
- In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil and saute leeks, covered over low heat until soft (about 15–20 minutes) Remove and place in a bowl. Heat another tablespoon of oil and saute zucchini until soft (about 5–7 minutes). Place in bowl with leeks and season with salt and pepper.
- Combine rice, leeks, zucchini, mint, dill, eggs, feta , salt and pepper and mix well.
- Oil a 23 x 23cm (9 inch) baking dish. Pour egg and vegetable mixture into dish, Bake about 35 to 49 minutes until golden and set.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.