After an unusually warm and totally awesome Easter bank holiday weekend in London, I’m wildly optimistic that we are going to have a fab gluten-free and vegan summer. Fab in almost every way.
What does summer mean to you? To me, summer is; extremes of temperature, ice-cream (vegan of course!), swimming in lakes and barbecues (again totally vegan and gluten-free). Basically for me summer is eating, swimming and staying warm (or cool). Maybe with a bit of camping thrown in (I love camping). We’re also off to Greece and Norway this summer (and who knows where else!) so I’m excited, very excited.
What do I like to eat in summer?
It’s so difficult for me to pin down all the things I like to eat in summer. There are so many really delicious fruits and vegetables, packed full of natural flavour and sweetness, it’s hard to choose and so it changes all the time. Some years some produce is stand out and you really, really remember it. Eating delicious, rich, warm, punnets of cherries with my Mam has stayed with me since I was very, very young. I’ve never tasted cherries like it again. And I probably never will. I think strong memories change the way you remember flavours. And strong flavours and wonderful food create great memories.
If I had to draw up a list of foods I love to eat in summer it would definitely include strawberries. In season, ripe, room-temperature strawberries are perfect as they are. No need to mess with balsamic vinegar or even sugar. I would also add Jersey Royal potatoes to my list (very close to the top). If you’ve never had Jersey Royals you are missing out. They are a small new potato with a soft buttery flavour and texture. The flavour is unlike any other potato. They are unique and incredible. Apologies you can only get them in the UK. Find out more about Jersey Royals in this blog post.
Another summer favourite is cucumber. Cucumber is a vegetable I only ever eat in summer. If that sounds a bit strange, bear with me. Cucumber grown out of season in huge poly-tunnels in Spain (or Holland, or anywhere) always tastes of fish to me. I assume that’s because it has a very high water content and so tastes very much of what it is grown in and with. Fish and bone meal are often used as fertilisers as they’re cheap (this is true for most crops organic or not). So most of the year cucumber is off-limits for me but in summer I guzzle it.
There are endless and wonderful cabbages and lettuce varieties and I adore the bitter and strong tasting versions. I could eat watercress by the bag full.
The amazing fruits I love in summer include apricots, blueberries, nectarines, pears, raspberries, strawberries, figs, rhubarb and well, anything else I can get my hands on. It is all wonderful and I love it all.
What’s So Good About Summer?
Summer produce is so different to the cold, hard, tasteless in comparison, anodyne stuff available for the rest of the year. Think freshly picked ripe, warm strawberries. They’re so very special. So different to the cold, hard, bland strawberries imported throughout the year.
What I especially adore about summer produce is that fresh, ripe and seasonal food needs so little doing to it. It tastes amazing. Fresh figs are wonderful, warm from the tree. I could eat many, many fresh figs but grill them and they transforms into mature, rich centrepieces of a fantastic salad. Salads rule summer. These aren’t boring salads made up of lettuce, tomato and cucumber! These are salads rich with seasonal leaves, grilled fruit and a tart, sweet, thick dressing. Imagination can take you anywhere with a salad.
Quick and Easy Summer Recipes
These are a few of my favourite quick and easy summer recipes…
Summer Vegetable Paella is, well, summer on a plate. Utterly, utterly delicious and it looks pretty damn impressive too…
I can’t talk about summer food without talking about a great salad. One of my faves is Endive Salad with Pears and Almonds. Fresh, crunchy, tasty and the bitter endive is balanced perfectly by the sweet pears. Yum!
If you want to go a bit more sophisticated and go full-on picnic food I am the biggest fan of Chard, Courgette and Pea Tarts. They are so very good not just for picnics but for packed lunches, swanky dinner parties and summer buffets or barbecues. I adore them.
Enjoy Your Gluten-free and Vegan Summer
Whatever you’re doing and wherever you are enjoy your summer!