June is one of my favourite months of the year. It is a time of naive British hope, and I love it for that. The weather is heating up and there’s still a belief that there might be a summer for once. People have relegated fears of unrelenting downpours and shock temperature changes to press conspiracies.
Parks are overflowing and hordes are descending on small costal areas. Evening strolls in reveal people huddled round makeshift barbecues or beer bottle piles. Everyone seems to have forgotten the usual British stand-offishness. The British, for all our faults, know how best to enjoy the little sunshine we get.
Nothing epitomises this spirit like the humble British strawberry. Strawberries are a ubiquitous part of the British summer psyche. Many countries would be fine eating these delicious juicy berries on their own. The British have decided that this is not good enough. Instead, we smother them in cream, pastry or alcohol, in attempts to ingest them as much as possible.
I say, embrace the spirit of the British strawberry and squeeze the most out of the summer produce. Fry, bake, grill and barbecue as many June superstars as possible.
What’s In Season
Artichoke, Asparagus, Aubergine, Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Chillies, Courgettes, Fennel, French & Runner Beans, Garlic, Lettuce, Mangetout, New Potatoes, Onions, Pak Choi, Peas, Radishes, Spinach, Spring Onions, Tomatoes, Turnips
Bilberries, Blueberries, Cherries, Gooseberries, Greengages, Strawberries
The most notable introduction to the seasonal dinner plate are of course tomatoes. Tomato season in Britain is a thing of beauty. If you’ve ever tried to grow tomatoes in the garden in the UK you’ll know that it requires a certain delicacy. Tomatoes require humidity and heat, something that isn’t often found in Britain. It’s important to savour these wonderful red globes whilst you have the chance.
Fresh tomatoes are often relegated to sandwich fillers and salads. But, I love adding fresh tomatoes to sauces and stews. Canned tomatoes can’t match the wonderful rich sweet sauces that fresh tomatoes create. Check out the Cherry Tomato Orzo recipe for a delicious cherry tomato sauce recipe.
Late June heralds the start of the season for two of my favourite vegetables – aubergine and courgette. Both offer great versatility in the kitchen, working well in sauces, salads or roasts. Still, my favourite way to cook them to grill them. Slice the fruit lengthways into thick 1 inch slices. Cover with extra virgin olive oil and a good helping of kosher salt. Wrap in tin foil and place on a hot barbecue for 10 – 15 minutes until soft. Add a little squeeze of citrus to finish off. Eating hot aubergine and courgette straight out of the foil like this is my kind of heaven.
Green veggies like fresh peas and broad beans are also a welcome addition to the seasonal pantry. If you haven’t tried fresh peas from the pod then you haven’t lived. Fresh peas burst with sweetness and juiciness. I’ve found the best way to enjoy their wonderful flavour is to fry them. Halve whole pods and fry in olive oil, cumin seeds and chilli flakes. Then sprinkle with kosher salt to serve. These work great on their own or as a topping to a dish. Check out the aubergine corn recipe to discover more.