We love summer for many reasons, not least the glut of delicious fresh vegetables available in the markets, supermarkets and our own gardens. We’ve picked a few of our favourite summertime vegies and offered suggestions to make the most of their fresh yumminess.
From ox-heart to plum, beef steak to cherry, and heirloom varieties, there is a huge range of different types of tomato to choose from. Vine-ripened tomatoes further sweeten when roasted in the oven and are beautiful alongside a nice piece of salmon. Alternatively, stuff large tomatoes with cheese, pine nuts and herbs and roast in the oven on a low heat. Slowly cooked on your cooktop to make a pasta sauce or pizza topping, thrown into a stew, roasted or grilled, there are so many ways to use tomatoes in cooking. Fresh summer tomatoes, especially cherry and plum varieties, are so delicious they’re perfect left uncooked and tossed in a salad.
Carrots aren’t just orange anymore - they are now available in a kaleidoscope of colours, including purple, red, white and even black. Steam young carrots and toss in butter and chopped parsley or a herb creme fraiche sauce to make a delicious side; grate into a pea and mint salad; glaze with orange and serve over pearl barley mixed with spinach and topped with toasted almonds; or turn into a thick soup with butternut squash and cream.
Both the vegetable and the flower are fantastic in summer months. The vegetable loses its slightly acidic taste when roasted or pan-fried. Try slicing zucchini and grilling the pieces on your BBQ, or skewering some onto kebabs. They are also beautiful slowly cooked on your cooktop with some tomatoes and peppers for a lovely ratatouille. The flowers can be stuffed with ricotta and goats cheese, coated in batter and deep fried - a stunning side dish or starter.
Sweet and juicy, plump and crisp, sweetcorn is a delight to eat either as is - steamed, boiled or grilled and slathered in butter - or in one of a number of dishes. Try making corn bread, tossing them in a salad, adding to a Chinese sweetcorn and crab soup, or making a salsa with the addition of cherry tomatoes, coriander and a little cumin for spice.
Fresh asparagus is best simply grilled on the BBQ or in a griddle pan and topped with a squeeze of lemon juice or tossed in butter and seasoned with freshly cracked black pepper. However, they also pair beautifully with plump prawns in a salad with another seasonal favourite, mango. Try them in a tart with caramelised shallots and parmesan or as a fun starter dipped into soft-boiled eggs.