The glory months for the allotment are in full swing: courgettes are abundant, salads are sprouting and summer berries are ripe for picking. With so many wonderful fruit and vegetables in season, we asked our friends over at The Simple Things for their most delicious lunch recipes with the help of writer and forager, Lia Leendertz.
Who’s ready to tuck in?
Make this meat-free version of a shooter’s sandwich the night before, using whatever is ready on your plot, raw, lightly cooked or marinated.
3 small courgettes
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 cloves garlic
8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large round loaf of bread such as pain de campagne
50g pine nuts, toasted
50g Parmesan, finely grated
Large bunch of basil
3 medium tomatoes
1 ball of mozzarella
Handful of rocket leaves
Step 1. An hour or so before you are going to assemble the sandwich, slice the courgettes and lay them flat in a container. In a jar mix the zest and juice of the lemon with one crushed garlic clove, two tbsp of the olive oil, a pinch of salt and a twist of pepper. Shake to combine and pour over the courgettes. Leave somewhere cool.
Step 2. Cut a round lid in the top of your loaf, scoop out the insides and put them into a food processor with the pine nuts, parmesan, basil, garlic and the rest of the oil. Spread half of this pesto crumb over the base of the loaf.
Step 3. Next, layer slices of tomatoes, mozzarella, courgette, a handful of rocket leaves and repeat. Top it all with the rest of the pesto mixture and the lid. Wrap in greaseproof paper and tie with string before weighing down with heavy books. Store somewhere cool overnight, but not the fridge, to allow the flavours to mingle. Come picnic time serve cut into generous wedges.
The sugars in sweetcorn start turning to starch the moment the cob is picked, meaning even minutes can make a difference to its taste. Get the barbecue up to heat before you pick, for the juiciest, sweetest corn you’ve ever sunk your teeth into.
6 Sweetcorn Cobs
150g butter, at room temperature
Small bunch parsley, finely chopped
Petals of a few edible flowers: marigold, cornflower, chive
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Step 1. Put the butter in a large bowl, add all the other ingredients. Season and mix well, pushing the petals into the butter with the back of a wooden spoon. Bring it all together into a rough round using the spoon.
Step 2.To make the butter into a sliceable log, chill the pat until it is workable but not too firm. Use a piece of wax paper to roll into a log shape. Wrap and refrigerate or freeze until needed.
Step 3. Once the barbecue coals have turned grey, pick the cobs and place them, husks and all, onto the grill. Allow the outer leaves to blacken slightly, then turn. Once the whole thing is blackened, pull back the husk, slice of the butter and place it on the kernels. Let it melt slightly, then eat.
These can be made ahead of any barbecue or picnic, and are in fact best enjoyed a day after making, giving the juices time to soak fully into the bread. The usual summer pudding mix is blackcurrants, redcurrants and raspberries, but I used gooseberries, blackberries and redcurrants, because they were ripe. I don’t think it matters too much. The blackberries stained everything a glorious purple and the children were convinced the gooseberries were cherries. I said nothing.
8 thick slices of good quality soft white bread
850g berries, in any combination
50g caster sugar
You will also need 4 jars with lids
Step 1. Pick carefully over your fruit removing stems (and insects), then place in a large pan with the water and sugar. (The extra water is there to ensure you have lots of juice to play with.) Bring to the boil and simmer gently for a few minutes, until the berries burst and their juices run into each other. Taste the juice, and add more sugar as necessary. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Step 2. Use the base of the jars as a stencil and cut out 2 disks per jar – 1 for the base and 1 as a lid. Place 4 disks in a flat, wide container (I used an old ice-cream tub) and – skilfully wielding your ladle to spill juice but not berries – cover disks with a little of the juice. Turn each disk over, then place into the base of each jar, dry side up, and pour a little more juice on. This presoaking is a faff, but helps to prevent the downfall of many a summer pud: the white dry bit in the middle.
Step 3. Put the next four disks in the tub for their soaking and start ladling the still-warm fruit into jars, leaving most of the juice behind (you could use a slatted spoon); fill two thirds of the way up the jar. Really pack it in.
Step 4. Top with soaked disks and divide the leftover juice evenly between jars. Chill in the fridge overnight. To serve, unscrew jars and top with a little pond of cream, so that it dribbles down into the depths as you dig in.