Rather than making a salad I often make corn salsa to serve with dinner because it’s filling, delicious and oh, so pretty. When the harvest of fresh corn cobs comes in I make this salsa with corn roasted on the BBQ but in the depths of winter I add a drop of sunshine to the table using tinned corn that I pan fry to add that roasty, toasty flavour. If there’s any left over it will keep in the fridge for 24 hours.
INGREDIENTS Serves 2 Adults & 2 Kids 2 corn cobs or 1 large tin of corn 1/2 large red pepper 2 shallots 1 large salad tomato (deseeded) 1 jalapeno 1 lime small bunch of coriander 1/2 tsp salt
Peel away the husks of the corn and roast on all sides on the BBQ or grill until charred and tender. If using tinned corn, drain away the liquid then add to a hot pan and cook until charred and hot. Toss the corn in the pan often so that it browns but doesn’t burn. Slice the pepper into sections then char on the BBQ or dice and cook in a hot pan to add some char.
De-seed the tomatoes then chop into similar sizes to the corn. Peel and finely chop the shallots then finely chop the jalapeno (remove the seeds for a less spicy salsa). Chop the coriander and the roasted pepper. Slice the corn away from the cob and into a mixing bowl.
To the corn add the pepper, tomato, shallots, jalapeno and coriander then sprinkle over the salt and squeeze over the lime. Stir everything to combine and serve.
Chickpeas are packed with protein and fibre so they are great for controlling your blood sugar. I keep tins of chickpeas in my pantry for making hummus, chucking in stews and for roasting. Chilli, Maple Chickpeas are fantastic little pops of smoky, spicy flavour which are delicious sprinkled over salads and veggies. They’re incredibly easy to make and you can tweak the spiciness to suit your palette.
INGREDIENTS 1 tin of drained chickpeas 1 tsp smoked paprika 1 tbsp olive oil 1/2 lemon 60ml maple syrup sea salt optional: sliced chilli
Pre-heat the oven to 220°C (200°C Fan). Drain the liquid from the chickpeas then tip onto a baking sheet and drizzle over with olive oil and scatter over the paprika. Roll the chickpeas to coat in the oil and paprika. Bake for 10 minutes.
Mix together the maple syrup, juice from 1/2 a lemon and slices of chilli if you’re using. Once the chickpeas have roasted tip over the syrup and toss the chickpeas in the glaze then return to the oven for 2 minutes. Remove and grind over generously with salt then serve.
My love affair with homemade Balsamic Glaze continues with these BBQ chicken drumsticks. Balsamic glaze is sticky so makes any excellent marinade that permeates the chicken skins. You only need 15 minutes to marinade the chicken legs (although they benefit from 3 hours) then grind over some salt and pop them on the BBQ. Alternatively you can cook them in the oven.
Generously spoon some balsamic glaze onto the chicken legs then rub all over the meat and allow to marinade for as long as possible.
Grind over generously with salt then cook on a 200°C BBQ (closing the lid between turning) for 35 minutes. Put the meat onto grills not over direct heat, this will stop the sugar in the glaze from burning. Turn often and baste with the leftover glaze. Once the juices run clear the legs are ready to serve.
Caprese Salad is a summer dish I look forward to eating every year. As soon as the tomatoes are ripe in the garden and the basil plant is bushy and beautiful I make this salad every week. The simplicity of this salad makes it so delicious; sweet tomatoes, cool buffalo mozzarella, herby basil and tart balsamic glaze in each and every bite. I switch up the ingredients by using different colours and sizes of tomatoes. Bocconcini is wonderful with cherry tomatoes and if I can get hold of it, purple basil is beautiful against the white cheese.
INGREDIENTS tomatoes buffalo mozzarella basil leaves balsamic vinegar or glaze olive oil salt and pepper
Simply slice the tomatoes (discarding the stalk at the top) and arrange in a serving dish or plate alongside slices of buffalo mozzarella or balls of bocconcini. Grind over salt and pepper, scatter over torn basil leaves then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar or glaze.
Sometimes I finely chop the basil, grate over some parmesan then stir those into olive oil before pouring over the salad.
This simple dish is outrageously good. Steaming tofu makes it firm but porous enough to soak up all the delicious flavours of ginger, garlic and spring onion infused into the oil. I make this as a stand alone dish for me and Paul served with rice and some steamed veggies or it’s perfect for sharing as part of a Chinese feast. Leftovers will keep in the fridge and can be re-steamed in 3 minutes on the stove top.
INGREDIENTS Serves 2 Adults 240g firm tofu 2 large spring onions 5cm length piece of ginger 2 cloves of garlic 1/4 tsp salt 1/4 tsp chili flakes 60ml vegetable oil
Slice the tofu into 1cm thick slabs then fan the pieces out onto a heatproof plate. Place the plate inside a frying pan with a lid and pour water into the pan until it is just under the height of the plate. Place a lid on the pan then cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes from cold. Once cooked, drain any liquid from the plate and serve the tofu on the heated plate.
Peel the ginger and garlic. Finely chop the garlic and cut the ginger into long, thin strips. Cut the dark part of the spring onion away from the white. Cut the white part into discs then cut the green part into long, thin strips.
Heat the oil on a medium heat then cook the ginger, garlic, white onion, salt and chili flakes for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the long dark green pieces of onion and stir into the oil until they soften. Spoon the oil mixture onto the cooked tofu and serve with rice.
Cherry tomatoes are at their best in summer and they shine in this simple chopped salad. Flat leaf parsley brings that herby flavour without being overpowering. The tartness comes from the shallots pickled in vinegar, sugar and salt. Always salt tomatoes because it draws out more of the sweetness. Whether it’s burgers, BBQ chicken or steamed fish, Tomato and Parsley Salad is a beautiful accompaniment.
INGREDIENTS Serves 2 Adults & 2 Kids 200-250g cherry toms 15-20g flat leaf parsley 2 small shallots 2 tbsp white wine vinegar 2 tbsp olive oil 1/4 tsp sugar 1/4 tsp salt freshly ground black pepper
Peel and finely chop the garlic and shallots then tip into a small bowl then pour over the vinegar and add the salt and sugar. Leave to pickled for 5 minutes.
Finely chop the parsley and stalks then tip into a bowl. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and add to the bowl then grind over with black pepper.
Once the pickling is done add the olive oil and whisk to combine then pour over the salad and toss to combine everything.
The battle cry in our house throughout the summer holidays is “Mum! I’m a little bit hungry!” My kids always have the ability to know when they’re hungry but no skill in identifying what they want to eat. To save myself some time and repetition I make a list of all the available snacks that they can choose from then stick it on the fridge so that the kids can try and choose something before they scream up the stairs that they’re hungry. In case you need some ideas here are my summer holidays snack suggestion for my two.
Dippable and Stackable Hummus Peanut Butter Veggie Sticks: Carrots, Celery, Red Pepper, Cucumber Charcuterie: Salami, Pepperoni, Chorizo Ritz Crackers Nuts: Pistachios and Cashews Fruits: Strawberries, Grapes, Blueberries, Tomatoes, Olives
Sandwiches, Snack Bags and Sweet Stuff Quick Sandwich Ideas: Marmite, Cheese, Ham, Jam and Pate Snack Bags: Crisps and Popcorn Malt loaf Oat Bars with Chocolate Chips Fig Biscuits Yoghurt Pressed Fruit Rolls
Stone fruits (anything with a pit in the centre) are a defining food of summertime. As soon as nectarines hit the shelves I fill up the fruit bowl so we can all snack on them but they’re also amazing grilled. Simply oil cut sections of nectarine and grill them on a griddle or BBQ. The sugar chars and gives the fruit a savoury flavour that is delicious in salads. You can use regular balsamic vinegar in this dressing or for a thicker consistency use your homemade balsamic glaze.
INGREDIENTS Serves 2 Adults & 2 Kids 3 nectarines 2 balls of buffalo mozzarella 80g spinach, rocket, watercress mix 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar or glaze 2tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp honey 1/4 tsp salt pinch of chilli flakes 2 tsp of chopped almonds a little veg oil for grilling the nectarines
Empty the leaves onto a serving plate or bowl then tear the mozzarella into thirds and nestle in the leaves. Put the oil, balsamic, honey, chili flakes and salt into a small jar and shake vigorously to combine then leave aside until the nectarines are ready.
Cut the nectarines into quarters and toss in a little vegetable oil then place flesh down onto a very hot griddle or BBQ. Do not move until the flesh has griddle marks then char the other side of the flesh.
Add the nectarines to the leaves and mozzarella then shake the dressing again before drizzling all over the salad and finish with a sprinkling of chopped almonds.
Our strawberry plants grow a range of sizes some of which aren’t the right size or texture for eating as a snack because they’re too small or too big so I use them up in this simple and delicious tart. The sweetness of the strawberries and the slight tartness of the rhubarb are great friends and made sublime with a glug of custard or single cream. I’m to inept to make pastry in the week so I use pre-made but if you have the skills to make your own pastry then I salute you.
INGREDIENTS 400g strawberries 300g rhubarb 5 tbsp cornstarch 75g caster sugar (more for dusting) 2 lemons milk for brushing butter for the tin
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C (170°C Fan). Cut the rhubarb into thirds and remove the stalks from the strawberries. Cut the bigger strawberries in half and leave the smaller ones whole. Put all the fruit into a mixing bowl then sprinkle over the cornstarch and squeeze in the juice of two lemons. Mix with a metal spoon then leave until the blind baking is done.
Butter a spring bottom tart tin then lay 3/4 of the pastry over and gently press into the tin. Prick the bottom all over with a fork. Scrunch up a piece of greaseproof paper (I use the piece included in the pre-made pastry) then flatten it out and place over the pastry before pouring over the ceramic beans. Pop the tin into the hot oven and blind bake for 10 minutes.
Remove the ceramic beans and paper then arrange the rhubarb and strawberries neatly in the pastry case. Sprinkle the sugar over all the fruit. Cut the remaining 1/4 of the pastry into strips then crisscross over the top of the tart. Brush the strips with a little milk then sprinkle with some extra sugar. Cover the edges of the pie with foil to protect from burning then place back in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the pastry is completely cooked and the fruit is soft.
Allow to cool for 2 minutes before pushing the tart up and out of the tin then leave on a cooling rack for 5 minutes before serving with cream or custard.
If you’re lucky enough to have some blackcurrant bushes growing in your garden then you can make this glorious Blackcurrant Jelly. This glossy, sweet and tangy preserve is beautiful spread on toast or croissants. I haven’t been able to find blackcurrants for sale at the market or in the supermarkets but it’s really easy to find small blackcurrant bushes for about £3 and in a couple of years you’ll get your first harvest which just gets bigger each year.
INGREDIENTS Makes 200ml 300g blackcurrants 175g caster sugar 1tbsp lemon juice 50ml + 50ml water *special equipment: fine mesh sieve and a cooking thermometer
Wash the blackcurrants then tip into a pan with 50ml of the water and boil for 5 minutes then allow to cool slightly before handling.
Pass the mixture through a fine mesh sieve using a metal spoon to force through. Wipe down the pan then put the puree back into the pan and add the sugar and lemon juice. Heat gently and stir until all the sugar has dissolved then turn up the heat and boil until the mixture reaches 105°C (about 5 minutes).
Take the pan off the heat then stir in 50ml of water until completely combined then decant the jelly into a sterilized jar. It will keep for 6 months in a dark, cool place.