Summer is here – although with the lovely weather it feels like it’s been summer for months already – and with it all the lovely summer fruit and vegetables and a desire to eat a bit differently.. a bit lighter and brighter.
I like to eat seasonally all of the time and so there are many fruit and vegetables that I only ever eat in summer and I look forward to them immensely. These are a few of my favorites and what I like to do with them.
From Italy or the UK or even from my own garden I love broad beans. The simplest way to cook them is to pod them and then put them into boiling, salted water ( the water MUST be boiling first ), and then cook for literally just a few minutes until tender. Drain and if they are quite big just break the skin and push out the bright green centers. Drizzle with some really good olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Also great mixed with peas or the roasted courgettes, see below.
We will be making the most of lots of lovely vegetables in the next Seasonal Cooking Class.
Tomatoes speak of summer to me. I’m happy to eat them every single day and then not look at another tomato for the rest of the year. My father always had a glasshouse full of tomatoes, sweet and delicious straight from the vine.
My (Spanish) husband makes Gazpacho, the traditional chilled tomato soup, often. Mostly I just have them in salads; tomato and mozzarella with fresh basil, always with a good sprinkle of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, some really good olive oil and a little red wine vinegar. Greek salad with cucumber, feta and finely sliced red onion is another I often have. Tomato soup when I have more time is delicious. You can find my recipe here.
Make the most of summer tomatoes with this easy, delicious soup.
- 1.5 kg fresh tomatoes
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- handful fresh basil, oregano or marjoram
- olive oil
- 800 ml - 1 litre water
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 200C
- Cut the tomatoes in half, remove the core and squeeze out most of the seeds.
- Place on a roasting tray with some torn up basil leaves and marjoram or oregano, season with salt and pepper, a teaspoon of sugar and a good drizzle of olive oil.
- Roast for 40 minutes – 1 hour until soft and starting to colour.
- Meanwhile in a pan cook the onions with the garlic slowly in a little olive oil until soft and a little coloured, when ready add the cooked tomatoes with the juices and then the water.
- Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 15 - 20 minutes.
- Taste for seasoning and then blend until fine in a blender and if you like it really smooth (as I do) pass it through a sieve.
- Check the seasoning again and serve with a drizzle of really good extra virgin olive oil and some fresh basil leaves.
- Can serve with freshly grated parmesan or homemade pesto if desired.
Perfect on any tomato salad and absolutely delicious when made into pesto with pine nuts and parmesan.
I love these simply roasted. Wash, dry and slice at an angle about the thickness of a pound coin. Lay flat in a single layer (they will not roast well if you overcrowd the tray) on a roasting tray. Season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil ( not too much ) and roast in a hot oven 200C until starting to go brown on the bottom then turn over and roast until nicely coloured on both sides. Serve on top of some salad leaves.
Courgettes also make an absolutely superb soup. Very simple and delicious.
An easy, nutritious summer soup that's always popular.
- 500g courgettes (6-8 small courgettes) washed and diced with skin on
- 150g potatoes ( 1 large ), peeled and diced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 900ml approx stock , vegetable or chicken
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Knob of butter (optional)
- Heat a heavy based saucepan on a medium heat, add a little olive oil and then the chopped onion and garlic and cook gently while you prepare the courgettes and potato.
- Heat the stock in a separate pan.
- Add the potatoes and butter to the onion and garlic and then the courgettes. Stir well and allow to cook for a few minutes.
- Add the stock and season.
- Simmer on a gentle heat until the potatoes and courgettes are cooked and soft , approximately 20 – 30 minutes.
- Blitz with a blender, adjust the seasoning and add more stock or water if necessary to achieve a good consistency.
NotesTry to use the nice small courgettes and if you have courgette flowers you can blitz those in at the end.
Try it roasted or freshly grated with carrots to make a vibrant and healthy salad or used to make a fresh juice it is. a powerhouse of nutrients.
Great in a fresh juice, delicious pickled or simply peeled and sliced into a greek salad I like to have lots of cucumber in summer. Look out for different varieties that are tastier than the standard supermarket variety.
The closer to home your blueberries come from the better. Sweet and delicious mostly I just eat them as they are often with a bowl of muesli. If I’m feeling extravagant I will make a fruit compote for a baked cheesecake which is also superb for a pavlova or summer pudding. Blueberry muffins are really easy to make and another favourite.
Delicious so many ways. Jam if you grow your own or know someone who does, raspberry jam is one of the easiest jams to make and being high in pectin sets quickly. Cakes, pavlova, ice cream, sorbets, smoothies, summer pudding…so many lovely ways to make the most of raspberries.
There were many strawberry growers near us when I was growing up and strawberries were grown outside and had a much shorter season but were also more delicious. The first of the summer berries, I use these much the same as raspberries although strawberry jam is more time consuming and can be tricky to get a set it is my boy’s favourite.
My father had two fields of gooseberries growing near the house when I was a child. It was a prickly business picking them as they have very thorny branches. My father loved gooseberry tart made with a buttery shortcrust pastry and that was the key way to use them as well as jam. The elderflowers are in the hedges at the same time and together they make a wonderful jam. Also cordial, ice cream and sorbet are all wonderful.
Waxy varieties are delicious roasted; simply peel, wash, dry and cut into chunks, place on a baking tray in a single layer, season with salt and pepper and a good drizzle of olive oil and roast in a hot oven until golden all over. Also great in a salad, simply boil until tender, peel and dress while still warm with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then add some capers and finely sliced pickled red onion. To pickle the onion simply finely slice and soak in red wine vinegar and cold water.