AAlmost everything on the table this month is kind of a salad: tossed boiled grains with ripe fruits and herbs; Roast the peppers with a salted dressing of olives and anchovies; Slices of ripe watermelon and sweet shellfish; Or the recipe for using the last asparagus of the year. As the heat intensifies, there may be a potato salad, olive oil, lemon and chopped fennel seeds or dill, smoked mackerel and peeled cucumber toothpicks thrown away while warm.
There may be little meat – lots of snow-white fat and chewing gum, or a plate of thinly sliced cold roast pork with a few soft layers of air-dried ham. And although there will be only one luxury snack of fresh crab, there will also be smoked trout or sometimes shredded shrimp, basil and garlic sliced in olive oil and lemon.
The meat of parsley, dill and mint, chopped with millet or quinoa, cascas (the only visible grain) or bulgur wheat, forms the backbone of the salad. I stick them with apricots (sometimes raw, sometimes grilled) or tomatoes of every size and color. At this time of year, when it comes to salad leaves, we’re spoiled for choice. I put together the bright concoctions of hot, spicy, soft and crisp leaves, as well as the other things on the table.
White crab and watermelon salad
Here are some amazing things happening: sweet white crab and ripe, apricot-hood melon; Hot fork from salted capers and red chillies. Crabs are always a luxury, but I’m willing to pay for them as a topical treat. Crabs and watermelons do well when chilled, and watermelons need to be really sweet, ripe and juicy.
cantaloupe or honeydew watermelon 1 kg (weight before peeling)
White crab meat 500 gms
Lemon juice 2 tsp
Parsley 10 g, finely chopped
Lemon juice 50ml (1 or 2 ripe lemons)
Olive oil 50 ml
Coriander leaves A handful
Capers 2 tbsp
Red pepper 1 small, finely chopped
To make the dressing, place the lemon juice in a medium sized bowl that is large enough to hold a melon. Stir in the olive oil, then add the whole coriander leaves and capers. Finely chop the peppers, remove the seeds as you go, then add to the dressing.
Peel a squash, grate it and squeeze the juice. Cut the meat into thin slices, then toss gently with the dressing and set aside. (You can leave it in the dressing, in the fridge, for an hour or more, but not overnight.)
Put the crab meat in a bowl, add the lemon juice, chopped parsley and a little black pepper. Then mix very gently with a fork. You don’t want to crush the sweet, white flakes of crab. Place the watermelon and its dressing on a serving plate. Top the crab and parsley salad and bring to the table.
The last ‘asparagus’ salad
The British Asparagus season traditionally ends on June 21, the day of the summer solstice. As a token of my gratitude to the Asparagus Gods, I will mark the occasion with the last Asparagus dinner of the year. This time, the spears will be hunted briefly, then clothed, while still hot, with Mark Dicono’s delightful alderflower dressing, from his book. One year at Otter Farm (Bloomsbury, £ 25). This is something I usually use with yellow and delicate summer leaves like butterhead salad. As a kind of celebration, sprinkle on some flowers – nasturtium, rocket or chive – the mood should take you.
asparagus 24 spears
Rocket flowers A handful (optional)
Elderflower amicable 2 tsp
White wine vinegar 1 tsp
Olive oil 1 tsp
Place a deep pan of water – large enough to take asparagus – boil and lightly salt the water. Trim asparagus spears, discard any hard edges.
When the salt water boils, place the chopped asparagus on the bottom and let them cook for 7-8 minutes until tender. The exact timing will depend on the age and circumference of your spear, so test regularly with the point of a kitchen knife.
Make the dressing: Mix alderflower cordial and vinegar with a little salt and pepper. Add oil and stir until mixture becomes emulsion. Taste for the season.
Lift the asparagus spears out of the water and gently shake dry. Place them in a long serving dish, pour into dressings and toss gently until asparagus is coated, then sprinkle with rocket flowers.
Grilled peppers, tomatoes and tapenade
Deep summer flavors – ripe peppers and ripe tomatoes, purple-black olives and anchovies. I roast the peppers, so you get a pool of caramel-colored roasting juice in which the hot toast can be soaked, but you can grill the peppers if you want. If you take that route, then use a generous splash of olive oil to dress the toast before you put the peppers in place.
Red or mixed chilies 300 gms
Tomatoes 4 medium
Red wine vinegar A little
Sour bread 4 slices
For taped dressing
Black olive with stones 125 gms
anchovy fillets 8
Parsley 2 tsp
Olive oil 2 tsp
Set the oven to 180C fan / gas mark6. Place the peppers in a roasting tin, add 3 tablespoons olive oil and fry them for 40 minutes and until the patches turn black.
To make the dressing, finely chop the black olives and anchovies, and mix well. You can do this manually or in seconds using a food processor. Chop the parsley and stir in the olives with the olive oil. You can keep this mixture in the fridge for many days.
Remove the pepper from the oven, cover with a lid and leave for 20 minutes. The steam they produce covers their skin. Peel a squash, grate it and squeeze the juice. Peel a squash, grate it and squeeze the juice. Peel a squash, grate it and squeeze the juice. Place the peppers flat in a serving dish.
Cut the tomatoes thinly. Season them with a little red wine vinegar and olive oil, and black pepper.
Toast the bread on both sides, then cover with lukewarm oil. Place a slice of roasted pepper on each slice of toast, then a tablespoon of tapered dressing, and serve with sliced tomatoes.
Summer herb fritata salad with green olives and thyme
I make this dressing for its aroma as much as for its flavor, with the summer notes of green olive and lemon and the lightest hint of young, sweet garlic. Dress while freshly cooked fritata is still hot.
Spring onions 5
Olive oil 2 tsp
Deal Friends 10 gms
Mint leaves 8 grams
Parsley leaves 15 gms
Butter 30 gms
Sprouted seeds A handful, such as mug dal or dal
Fresh thyme leaves and their flowers 1 tsp, to finish
Olive oil 50 ml
Stone olive green 100 gms
Red wine vinegar 1 tsp
Garlic 1 small clove, peeled
Lemon juice 1 tsp
Parsley leaves 10 gms
To make the dressing, place the olive oil, crushed olives, vinegar, garlic, lemon zest and parsley leaves in a food processor bowl and refrigerate for a few seconds.
To make the fritata, finely chop the spring onions. Heat the olive oil in a shallow non-stick pan with a heat resistant (metal) handle – I use one about 20 centimeters in diameter at the base – then add the spring onions and let them cook for 3 or 4 minutes until soft.
Beat the eggs in a bowl and lightly beat with a fork to mix the yolks and whites. Finely chop the dill, mint and parsley leaves, then stir in the beaten egg, and season with salt and pepper. Preheat the overhead (oven) grill.
Add the butter to the spring onion and let it melt. Keep the heat medium. Add in half the egg and herb mixture, add any sprouted seeds, then let the mixture cook for 3 or 4 minutes until eggs are set. Place the pan under a hot grill for a minute or two to set the surface of the fritata. Slide the fritata on a cutting board, then repeat with the remaining egg mixture.
Slide the second fritata from its pan onto the cutting board and cut into both ribbons, about 1 cm wide. Place them in a bowl, add the dressing and toss gently, then transfer to a serving dish.
Green olive dressing is fun, with a few fresh thyme or thyme flowers added when you toss the ribbon of fritata and dress together.
Spicy apricots and courgette couscous
Vegetable store 250ml
Nice, quick cooking couscous 125 gms
Flowing honey 2 tsp
Ground cinnamon 1 tsp
Ground coriander Half a teaspoon
courgettes 4 medium
Olive oil 5 tsp
Parsley leaves 10 gms
Mint leaves 5 grams
Thrown almonds 4 tbsp, toasted
Lemon Juice of half
Line the grill pan or baking sheet with tin foil. Preheat the overhead (oven) grill.
Heat a stock of vegetables in a small saucepan. Place the cauliflower in a hot-resistant mixture bowl and pour over the hot vegetable stock. Stir briefly, then cover with a lid or plate and set aside.
Cut apricots in half and remove their stones. Put honey in a mixing bowl and drink cinnamon and coriander. Add the apricots and toss the fruit and honey together, until all is well coated, then tip over the grill pan or baking sheet. Make sure the fruit is one layer, then cook under a hot grill for about 8-10 minutes until soft and the honey begins to caramelise. Remove from the grill pan and set aside.
Cut the courgettes and cut them into quarters lengthwise, then cut into 3 cm long short pieces. Pour 3 tablespoons olive oil into a mixing bowl, season with salt and pepper, then add the courgettes and gently toss in the seasoning oil. Place them in a grill pan – no matter if there is honey or apricot juice left over – and cook them under the grill for 8 or 10 minutes until they are tender and golden brown. Turn them over and cook on the other side, then remove from the grill pan and add to the apricots.
Chop the parsley and mint leaves and sprinkle with flaked almonds, remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Fork through the couscous to separate the grains, then add the apricots, courgettes, parsley, mint and almonds. Check the spice.