Friday, 11 July 2014

Summer cooking tips!

By Debbie Valentine

For a lot of us (especially the men), cooking in the summer means only one thing: the barbeque. Whilst there is always a time and a place for a barbeque, summer is a great time to get into the kitchen and cook up some exciting, healthy and delicious food that you can hopefully enjoy al fresco.

It’s perfectly understandable that no-one wants to spend a lot of time slaving over a hot stove when the sun’s out, so it’s a great excuse to make some tasty summer food.

The staple of summer eating is often a big salad, but it doesn’t have to be a big bowl of lettuce leaves! As well as the tomatoes, cucumber and radishes that might go into your seasonal salad there’s all sorts you can add. New potatoes are in the shops in the summer and they’re equally good hot with dinner or cold in a potato salad. Why not add some chicken and some cous-cous for a Moroccan inspired salad? Different cheeses can really spruce up a salad – Feta is great with tomatoes, and parmesan gives a kick to chicken. Experiment with a big bowl and make it a family dinner. Don’t forget the croutons!

There are all kinds of fantastic veggies in season over the summer, so it’s really easy to get your 5-a-day. Beans, peas, broccoli, aubergine and courgette are all thriving in the sunshine. If the sun’s out, it’s a great opportunity to try some easy one-pot dishes you can pop in the oven and leave. Chicken and fish dishes lend themselves well to this, add in a colourful variety of veg and you’ve got a delicious dinner. Pasta dishes are always an easy family favourite, but don’t forget you can also have them cold in the summer. Make them with a lighter sauce – maybe add some sundried tomatoes, or courgettes for a twist on an old favourite.

My favourite course – pudding – can really come into its own in the summer. There is so much delicious fruit in season and available cheaply at markets and supermarkets. Strawberries and raspberries are my favourite, equally delicious served with cream (add some meringue to make an Eton Mess) or in something more adventurous. Plums, currants and blueberries are all in season over the summer as well. If you venture out of the city you can even visit a pick-your-own farm and make sure you get the best of the crop!

Finally, if you do decide the crack out the barbeque, don’t forget to make sure all your meat is cooked properly (you can cheat by starting meat off in the oven and just finishing them on the barbeque!). With a cold drink, a tasty salad and lashings of ketchup, what a great way to enjoy the British summer.

Enjoy the sunshine!

Image: piedmonte peppers, by Lydia Gerratt

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