Summertime, and the living is easy … which means nothing fancy happened in the kitchen at all. I avoided anything that required a recipe, and instead took my cues from what was literally on my doorstep. Isn’t it lovely being able to wander into the garden and pick a handful of peas and beans for lunch or dinner? Then sit in the garden or at the kitchen bench, something nice and tinkly playing on the radio, a cool drink to hand, podding the broad beans or greenfeast peas in a leisurely manner, then tossing the lot into a steamer basket. I adore being that immediately connected to my garden and my produce — zero air miles; more like only a dozen steps — and it happens best over my summer holidays.
As I said, I didn’t follow any recipes, but cookbooks and meals out inspired me. For example, a late lunch at the Taste with my friend F led to a string of lunches at home featuring soft Turkish breadrolls stuffed with lettuce, mum’s homemade plum chutney, and great slices of salty squeaky chewy fried haloumi. You might not think that’s very flash, but it’s a bit more effort than I usually go to on my weekend lunchtimes!
Another source of inspiration? Here’s a pic I’ve had tucked in my Hugh ‘River Cottage Veg Every Day’ book for forever:
Doesn’t that look so fresh and green and simple? Well, I finally got around to making something like it, using some steamed kipfler potatoes (I’m already achieving my resolutions!), green beans from my garden, some capers and spring onions. And since I have great swathes of parsley that need to be conquered, parsley pesto (though I never follow the recipe anymore, I just cram the ingredients into my food processor and go). Delicious.
That’s mostly how I like to eat in the summertime, mixing cooked veg with salad greens and maybe something substantial like those tender potatoes or cannellini beans, or even some wholemeal penne for a change. A warm weather version of my MONA salad, using zucchini and beans and peas instead of wintery root veg.
It seems I like my greens a lot.
The fanciest I got was making cauliflower rice. Have you tried it yet? Blitz cauliflower florets in your food processor until it resembles rice or couscous, then cook it and serve it just as you would rice or couscous. You could steam it, but I sautéed mine with a little olive oil, onion and garlic, and white wine – as if you were doing the initial steps for a risotto. Just like roasted cauliflower (which I love), this method brings a nuttiness to the cauli which is divine. Stir thru other veg and drizzle with some walnut oil (my new favourite condiment, and it really matches that toasty flavour of the sautéed cauli) and some lemon juice for zing, and you have a big healthy flavoursome meal.I’m back at work now but still trying to hang onto the easy way of cooking meals and enjoying the summer produce (and eating outside whenever the weather is lovely). How do you eat and cook during your summer holidays?