It’s quite incredible how out of touch we are with the seasons when it comes to what we eat. Due to supermarkets offering us the illusion of year round fruit and veg most of us have little idea what is in season and what’s actually growing in the fields near us. But when it finally hits summer as it is now, you do just get that craving for lighter meals, fruit, salads, and ‘mediterranean’ foods (and ice cream), which generally reflects what we should be eating if things weren’t as weird as they are. This is the time most salad vegetables grow well in the UK such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers as well as beans and peas, turnips, fennel, aubergines and chillis. Summer fruit include damsons, cherries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries and strawberries. Mmh, feast on that.
Onion foccacia bread
makes 1 large (20×30cm or larger) tray
Making bread is a bit intimidating but this foccacia style flat bread is really easy – even I can make it, and my bread normally resembles a brick! It makes a nice addition to a meal. I’d serve it with a salad and maybe a dip, see the suggestion below!
You could be posh and add stuff like chopped black olives or capers, sundried tomatoes or the like.
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp dried active yeast
450g strong white flour, or a mix of white and wholemeal
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
3 tbsp olive oil
3-4 red and white onions (about 500g altogether)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
What you do
1.Dissolve the sugar in about 150ml water that’s just boiled, then top it up with cold water to bring it up to 300ml. Add the yeast, then leave in a warm place for 10-15 minutes to activate – it should get foamy on top.
2.Sift the flour into a large bowl with the salt. Sprinkle in half of the rosemary, and 1 tbsp of olive oil, then start mixing in the yeast, gathering it up to a dough then kneading it on a floured surface for a few minutes. Cover with a wet clean teatowel or some oiled clingfilm, and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes up to an hour.
3.Peel, halve, and thinly slice the onions. Heat the rest of the oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan and sauté the onions over a medium heat, turning it lower as it gets going. Add the garlic, then cover and simmer on low for 10 minutes (check it occasionally).
4.Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.
5.Knead the dough again, then roll it out into a square about 5mm thick, and press into the greased baking sheet. Spread the slightly caramalised onions over the dough, and sprinkle the rest of the rosemary over.
6. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until browning. Cut into squares and serve.
A creamy aubergine dip that is very more-ish. It gets a lovely smoky taste from letting the aubergine bake until it’s charred. You’ll need a blender or a food processor for this one.
2 tbsp tahini
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp ground coriander
salt and pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
½ -1 small red chilli, deseeded and minced (optional)
1 tbsp vegan yoghurt (optional)
What you do
1.Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas Mark 8.
2.Prick holes in the aubergines with a fork or knife, and bake whole on a baking sheet for at least 1 hour, until the aubergine is really charred black. It will now be soft and gooey inside.
3.Halve and scoop out the flesh with a spoon – it should come out easily. Some of the charred skin adds to the flavour so get that in there too.
4.Put into a bowl, jug or the food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend.
5. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander or other herbs, or a dollop of vegan yoghurt and a dusting of ground coriander.