When people complain they don’t know what to cook, or look for new recipes, I’m sympathetic. In mid-winter there are only so many onion soups and bean casseroles you can eat. In spring all the nice things you’d like are expensive; the summer quandary is how to cook without turning on the oven or hob.
But come September, it becomes a no-brainer. The gorgeous vegetables, cheap and plentiful, are the centrepieces, you need no or only a little meat as a side dish, as an afterthought.
This time of year is the time of plenty: there is so much to choose from to put on your plate! I know, berries are all but finished and the springtime delicacies like asparagus only a memory, but just take a look at your local fruit and veg market or farmers’ market stalls! Opulence, abundance and so many cooking opportunities!
Peppers, aubergines, courgettes and tomatoes provide endless cooking inspiration, from roasted vegetable trays in various configurations and with assorted toppings, to pasta sauces, one pot dishes and one tray bakes.
Roasted vegetables with feta is a satisfying meatless dinner. Anchovy braised vegetables are a great side dish, a bruschetta topping or a boost for breakfast scrambled eggs. Ratatouille has fallen out of grace, which beats me as it’s one the greatest vegetable (or as we are supposed to say there days: plant) celebrating dishes. On its own, with bread, with roast chicken or with the chicken added to the pot – bring ratatouille back into the fold!
Courgettes need special attention and not just because out of the above list they are the only UK native vegetable: there are more possibilities than just boring courgetti. Try it raw, in a courgette ribbon salad or try the opposite – caramelised courgettes. Sautee it with magic breadcrumbs or bake it with herbs and pasta. All better recipes than you’d think!
Sweetcorn this year is not legendary for some reason, perhaps the drought has drained its of juiciness. But it will still make a number of gorgeous lunches of baked or grilled corn on the cob slathered with butter, as well as dinners. Chicken with fried corn and crispy feta, corn, bacon and avocado salad or sweetcorn-based chilli – these are all great options.
And then there’s fruit: peaches and nectarines, apples and pears, and grapes – all of those good cooking ingredients and not just for desserts. Look out for the recipes next week as autumnal fruit certainly merits a whole post of their own. Until next week!