In Season – Summer
Serve up freshly-picked, locally-grown veg!
New potatoes: often known as salad potatoes, early crop potatoes are much smaller than their maincrop counterparts with a lovely, buttery flavour. Their size and texture makes them ideal for salads, boiled then cooled and tossed in a rich mustard and honey dressing. They are also delicious served as a side dish and often need nothing more than a little shake with a knob of butter and some seasoning.
Try this: new potato kebabs are great for the barbecue – boil a pan of new potatoes and corn on the cobs for 15 minutes. Drain and thread onto skewers alternately with cocktail sausages. Brush lightly with BBQ sauce and grill for 10 minutes until the sausages are cooked through.
Fresh peas: there can’t be many vegetables that are as fun to pick and prepare as fresh peas! Even young children love the pop of the pod leading to the sweet, young, fresh peas inside. Fresh peas are a great choice for salads as they need no cooking – just throw a handful in with your favourite leaves and dressing and crumble with feta for a lovely contrast in flavours. Of course, you can also use fresh peas in risottos, pasta dishes or for a delicious summer pea soup.
Try this: make a pea pesto to serve on crostini by cooking up a pan-full of peas. Purée and add a squeeze of lemon, a handful of toasted pine nuts, grated Parmesan, a pinch of cayenne pepper, seasoning and blend once more. Adjust to taste, then spread onto toasted baguette slices.
Soft Fruits: nothing says summer more than the sight of locally-grown strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries and cherries, freshly picked and bursting with flavour. There is no doubt that home-grown soft fruits taste far superior than any shipped from abroad – you can literally taste the sweetness teased out naturally by our warming sun – we may have to be a bit more patient, but it’s definitely worth the wait!
Try this: make a quick Summer Mess by blitzing your favourite soft fruits and layering them in a glass with crushed meringue and vanilla ice cream.
Broad beans: towards the end of June, look out for new broad beans and choose the youngest and freshest you can find – the difference between these and more mature beans is immense. With older beans, the outer shells can get a bit tough so they often need double podding – this is just more time consuming than anything but well worth the effort. Broad beans can find their way into most dishes from risottos and salads to soups and purées.
Try this: create a summery salad with a leaf base of peppery watercress, cooked beetroot, roasted butternut squash, some crumbly feta and a scattering of parboiled broad beans. Finish with a vinaigrette dressing.
You can buy fresh seasonal produce this summer from the following stalls every Saturday:
Coleshill Organic Farm, Croft Farm, Duncan Paget & Co, Over Farm Market, Newark Farm, Hotch Potch Organic and Days Cottage.