Gardens are overflowing with the best summer has to offer right now. The growing season is so short in England and the weather so mercurial that one has to make the most of what’s on offer.
I came home from a visit with family in Devon loaded with bags of purple green beans, sunny yellow zucchini, jewel-toned beets and juicy carrots just pulled from the earth. Days later, I went to a pick your own farm in Surrey and loaded up on corn, raspberries and strawberries, spinach, cabbages and cucumbers. My own postage stamp of a garden in London is pumping out cherry tomatoes, a few figs, cranberry and French beans. So what to do with all this produce before it’s too late????
One of my favorite simple salads is this Italian raw zucchini number. Shave the squash into thin slices with a mandolin or slice crosswise thinly then stack 4 slices and cut into matchsticks. For every medium zucchini, toss with the juice of one small lemon, 2-3 tablespoons quality olive oil, 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley, shaved Parmesan and toasted nuts to taste. I used copious amounts of pine nuts for the version in the picture but pistachios or slivered almonds also work well. Don’t skimp on the cheese. Taste and season to your liking.
Beet hummus is a delicious and easy way to enjoy that glut of ruby roots in your fridge. First, roast the beets in a 350F/200C oven. Before roasting, halve larger ones then trim the ends. Place on a sheet of heavy foil and drizzle with olive oil then season well with salt and pepper. Wrap tightly and roast until tender when pierced with a sharp knife. For the hummus, put a drained can of chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor and add the beets (3 small or 2 large), 1 heaping teaspoon tahini, juice of half a lemon, 1 large clove garlic – chopped – and a good pinch of salt. Whir until ingredients are combined and coming together; with machine running start to drizzle in olive oil. Add enough so that a smooth, creamy mixture is achieved. I usually use a lot of oil and process for a while so the hummus is somewhat “whipped”.
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup minced fresh chives
- Black pepper, as needed
- 1 pound green beans
- 2 ⅔ cups cooked fresh corn kernels (from about 4 corn cobs)
- ½ pound carrot, peeled and coarsely grated (2 cups)
- In a small bowl, whisk together salt, vinegar, garlic and mustard. Whisking constantly, slowly whisk in oil until incorporated. Whisk in chives and pepper.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in beans and cook until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, cool and chop into bite-size pieces.
- In a large bowl, toss together beans, corn and carrot. Toss in dressing and season with salt and pepper.
For more ideas on what to do with your harvest, try chutney for plums and apricots, platters for glorious tomatoes, soup for corn, onions and okra, homemade sauce for apples and quick pickles for cucumbers. If you have a bounty of cabbages, check out fermenting recipes at krautsource.