Summer – the sun brings out the best in entertaining and nature never disappoints in providing incredible light ingredients with bright flavours that love to be treated simply.
Here’s my round up of seasonal produce for summer.
The ultimate arrival of summer are cherries as we draw closer to the festive season. Cherries are best eaten chilled as they are so pure in flavour and texture. As the season moves on and the price drops, they are wonderful preserved and brought out to eat with roasted and grilled meats or on the side of cheeses and cold cuts.
Watermelon is the summer fruit that reminds me of hot summer days as a child. A slice straight from the fridge is thirst quenching and refreshing and is also great in salads. Try tossing chunks of watermelon with different types of tomatoes, basil, a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of chilli salt. It is the perfect go to salad for BBQ’s as it teams well with fresh cheeses or grilled seafood and meat.
As we move into the later parts of January, figs will take the centre stage. A great way to choose the perfect fig is to feel for its heavy weight, its supple to touch skin and a drop of syrupy juice on the underside. These are tell-tale signs of a juicy sweet fig.
Berries and Stone Fruit
Berries such as raspberries, blueberries and strawberries, and stone fruit such as peaches, plums and nectarines also hit their stride in the hot months.
Cucumbers and Squash
Cucumbers and squash love the heat and you will find many different types to try. Look for baby Mexican cucumbers as a great snack as they are the size of peanut and pack a punch. Regular cucumbers are great simple sliced and drizzled with a great quality vinegar, olive oil and poppy seeds for an interesting crunch, while squash and zucchini are amazing grilled or roasted with tonnes of fresh herbs like thyme and oregano and can be marinated and kept in the fridge for antipasto or sandwiches. Use plenty of Garlic in your marinade as it packs a big punch this time of year due to the green garlic from Spring now being cured into the dryer bulbs of garlic that most of us know.
Bitter Lettuce Leaves
Another treat to look for in the summer are bitter lettuce leaves. Most will flower during the hot months which brings on a bitter flavour in the leaves. These leaves are the perfect foil to serve in cooling salads with the plethora of sweet summer fruits available. Bitter leaves also work well to serve with rich meats like pork and lamb as they help cut through the natural fats that make these meats so delish. Try a salad of figs, roasted onions, balsamic and radicchio with your next pork roast.
Oysters are at their prime at this time of year and are lovely freshly shucked, steamed or placed on the BBQ over coals and are ready when the top shell pops open. Sydney Rock oysters are harvested at around three to four years of age, spawning in the cooler months and are at their best (plump, juicy and plentiful) in the summer months – perfect for the festive season. An oyster in its prime should be tightly closed with a heavy shell and they should be plump and glistening when you open them. They have a very intense iodine flavour, are creamy in texture and not as salty as Pacific oysters, which makes them perfect with a celebratory silly season glass of bubbles.