I once talked about how a simple bowl of minestrone is the ultimate comfort food. But in the summer months I crave something a little lighter. I’m a huge believer in using produce that’s in season, which is exactly why this minestrone is not only light and delicious, but completely accessible and affordable.
The weather here is temperamental and annoying. We get sunshine for a microsecond before it takes off and visits one of our clearly favoured neighouring countries (damn you, rest of Europe!). The only thing that will get me through this erratic season is eating food that I relate to real summer. It is the only viable solution to my woes.
This method of survival totally involves olive tapenade. Spread it on literally anything, and believe you’re in the South of France catching some rays.
Keep it rustic and chunky or pulse it to a fine paste. Stuff it in fish, spread it on chicken, slather it on bread, crackers, mini toasts, use it in canapés, eat it on a spoon.
- 100g pitted kalamata olives
- 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons of capers
- 3 anchovies, roughly chopped
- Juice of half a lemon
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Ground black pepper
Add the olives, capers, garlic and anchovies to a food processor and pulse until the ingredients have reached desired consistency and texture. Add the olive oil and pulse again until incorporated. Remove from the food processor and transfer to a bowl, then add the lemon juice and pepper to taste.
Makes around 150g/ 1 jar of tapenade. Keep refrigerated for up to a week.
Where I’m from it’s not unusual to experience downpours during July – at the moment the weather could go from summer to winter in a matter of hours. I’ve concluded that the London skies are somewhat bipolar.
So naturally you can imagine how us Londoners react when the clouds eventually open up and allow us a glimmer of sunshine and warmth. Many strip off in the park in desperate hope of achieving a bronzed body. Others immediately set up the BBQ and proceed to deplete the local supermarket’s supply of rosé. Most people make meaningless, hypothetical bets on how long the sunshine will last before the rain returns.
I take my food outside.
I want you to take your food outside too.
How about inviting your beautiful friends over and cooking them a light summer lunch? Homemade lemonade you ask? Easy. What about a samphire and white bean salad with griddled squid and chorizo? Just saying. Fresh bread? Obviously..!
A chocolate pavlova definitely belongs in this scenario.
- 3 large lemons, roughly chopped
- 1 litre of still or sparkling water
- 150g caster sugar
In a food processor or blender add the chopped lemons, sugar and ½ litre of water. Blitz until the lemons have been chopped up into small pieces.
Using a seive, strain the lemon juice mixture into a jug and top up with the rest of your water. Serve with ice.
Makes around 1.5 litres of lemonade.
Samphire and White Bean Salad with Squid and Chorizo
- 300g fresh samphire, washed
- 6 medium to large squid, cleaned and cut into thin rings
- 300g canned white cannellini beans, rinsed
- 50g chorizo, finely chopped
- 1 small garlic clove, crushed
- Juice of half a lemon
- Olive oil
To prepare the samphire, boil or steam for around 3-4minutes. Drain and combine in a large bowl with the white beans and minced garlic and set aside.
Toss the prepared squid in a little salt and pepper. In a large flat pan (I used a paella pan), heat a little olive oil and once your pan is very hot add the chorizo. Fry off for about a minute before adding the squid, continue to cook for another minute or so.
Remove from the pan and pat off the excess oil with some kitchen paper, then add to your samphire and white beans. Season well, squeeze over lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Toss well before serving.
Wholemeal Horiatiko Psomi (Greek Village Bread)
For the bread starter:
- 14g fast-action yeast
- 60g wholemeal flour
- 120ml lukewarm water
For the dough:
- 1kg wholemeal flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 480ml lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons whole milk (plus extra for brushing)
- 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons clear, runny honey
- 4 tablespoons sesame seeds
Make your bread starter by combing the yeast, flour and water. Mix into a thick paste then cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl sift the flour and salt. Add the honey, milk, olive oil, bread starter and water and bring the mixture together with a spoon. Once a dough has formed, tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for around 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
Punch and knead the air out of the dough for around 5 minutes, then cut and form into two round loaves. Place on a baking sheet, cover with a clean dish cloth and leave for a further 30 minutes.
Score the top of each loaf in 3 places, brush with some milk and sprinkle over the sesame seeds. Bake on the bottom shelf of a 220°c oven for 30 minutes until evenly browned.
Serve with butter! Mmm…
Chocolate Pavlova with Red Berries
To make this truly scrumptious dish, follow my recipe for pavlova here. Simply fold in 30g grated milk chocolate and 60g sifted cocoa powder into the egg whites after all the sugar has been incorporated.
Garnish with any berries or fruit you like.
So! After that colossal sized post you are more than ready to take your plate and bask in the sunshine. Enjoy!