Despite the inclement weather patterns that are creating havoc around the country for gardeners and campers alike, there is still plenty ready for picking from gardens or at your local farmers market.
While fresh beetroot has enjoyed a few years of glory, this summer the beetroot seems to taste better than ever before. A bunch of the long variety of beetroot (as opposed to the typical round variety), purchased from the Matakana Farmers market was so sweet and delicious that now we are home from holiday I am working out how to buy more.
Beetroot is fabulous grated when raw and used in recipes such as raw energy salad or slowly roasted and then brought back to room temperature and tossed with rocket, feta and toasted walnuts or with red onion in a yoghurt and cumin dressing. When cooking
beetroot – either roasting or cooking in water, it is best to leave the skin on as it prevents the colour from bleeding excessively. They can be peeled after if need be for making recipes such as this delicious beetroot dip but for salad use the skin can stay on.
Sweetcorn is at its best and particularly good when picked straight from the garden. I planted a few rows in our raised vegetable beds. While the corn was and is perfectly delicious, it seemed a lot of garden to occupy for about 3 family meals! Corn blends well into Mexican style recipes and this Corn Salad with red onion, avocado, tomato and coriander is so good, I usually extend it with a bag of rocket leaves.
Avocados this summer are in plentiful supply making them one of the cheapest items in the green grocer. While everyone has their own version of guacomole Try making it quite chunky as opposed to mashed and to splash out on an imported lime for that essential squeeze of lime juice.
Note to self to freeze lime juice in July when my trees are laden.
Fresh picked summer tomatoes are a good reminder of the benefits of eating seasonally – their sweetness and flavour are incomparable to those from large scale commercial farms. While a warm picked tomato needs very little to make it appealing, a bottle of Vincotto Vinegar bought from Sabato pre Christmas has been the best thing for drizzling over tomatoes, beetroot, rocket etc… along with good evoo of course.
Coleslaw is not necessarily something I make lots of in summer with cabbage somehow not seeming as exotic as other summer greens, however when combined with fresh warm tortillas and beer battered snapper it really is quite the best relaxed summer meal – particularly if you have freshly caught fish.
At this time of year we are usually making courgette feta and mint fritters by the pan load, however the humidity seems to be impacting on their growth but I am planning to plant more once the corn has been pulled out in full confidence that summer sun and heat is yet to come!
While I can’t credit much of this duck salad to seasonal ingredients – aside from the cucumber, it is fresh, zingy and perfect for summer entertaining. If you have access to a Chinese Barbecue Meat shop you can buy your duck (get it boned and chopped) but otherwise use duck breasts or pork if you like.
A row of lettuces that are all ready for picking at the same time calls for some interesting lettuce based salads. This Chicken Salad is just the thing for iceberg lettuce (alternatively use Chinese cabbage).
Fattoush is a lovely summery salad and an interesting variation of using tomatoes, basil, cucumber and parsley from the garden. I like to add hot smoked salmon to the basic fattoush recipe to make it a full meal but you can also add quality canned tuna or other smoked fish.
To try and support the weather affected strawberry growers, strawberry jam is on my agenda over the next few weeks. Combined with banana and rhubarb it is quite delicious and there is so much rhubarb in my garden that it really does need to be put to some good use.
If you are lucky enough to have a passionfruit vine with a surplus of fruit, aside from freezing pulp try making passionfruit curd for serving with scones, on tarts or drizzling over fingers of french toast.
What is growing in your garden and what are you making with it?