Turn your summer harvest into something tasty
August is a time when gardens are usually in full bloom, which means it’s it's the perfect time to take advantage of your summer harvest of fruits and vegetables. There’s a special satisfaction reserved for eating produce that you’ve grown- you get to enjoy and experiment with fresh ingredients straight from your own garden. Sometimes you end up with so much that it’s hard to know what to do with everything, so recipes are a fun way to try new things and find ways to complement your crops. Growing your own fruit and veg is the best way to truly experience the flavours of the summer.
Sweet, juicy tomatoes are always a highlight of the growing season. They pretty much encapsulate the taste of summer and lend themselves to all sorts of tasty seasonal dishes. A great way to let your tomatoes shine is with a caprese salad. It’s a super simple Italian classic that’s all about high quality ingredients. How you arrange your dish is up to you but lay out overlapping slices of tomato and mozzarella so that they’re alternating. Scatter fresh leaves of basil on top and season the whole thing generously with salt and black pepper. Then drizzle over 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.
Cucumbers from your garden are a level above anything you’ll find in supermarkets, and it’s worth getting creative with them as opposed to just using them in salads and sandwiches. Slice up some cucumbers and remove the seeds and fleshy pulp from the slices. Mix pork mince, an egg white, spring onions, fresh ginger, some dry sherry, light soy sauce, white caster sugar and sesame oil together and stuff your cucumber slices with the mixture. Fry them off in a large wok or frying pan, browning them on both sides. Then remove and simmer a sauce made of chicken stock, light soy sauce, dry sherry, oyster sauce, sugar and a cornflour slurry. Add the cucumber rings and finish cooking them by simmering in the sauce.
Figs might have you thinking of Christmas, but a sweetly spiced fresh fig chutney is the ideal accompaniment to a summer charcuterie board alongside a creamy cheese and some bread or crackers. In a pan, add light brown soft sugar, apple cider vinegar, chopped fresh digs, a diced apple, a finely chopped onion, sultanas and flaky sea salt. Bring it to a gentle simmer and leave it uncovered for an hour, making sure to stir occasionally until you get the sticky, jammy consistency you’re after. Then spoon it into a jar and it’s ready to enjoy.
There’s a lot you can do with aubergine, but roasting it really gives it a chance to stand-out on its own. Pierce your aubergine a few times with the tip of a knife, brush it with olive oil and roast it for 40-45 minutes at 200°C/190°C fan. Make sure that it’s completely tender. In a pan, melt butter and stir through harissa paste. Cut the aubergine in half and split it open like a jacket potato. Mix Greek yoghurt with crushed garlic and spoon it onto the aubergine, before drizzling over your spiced harissa butter.