To celebrate the bounty of summer we thought we’d gather a careful selection of recipes for fresh, seasonal eating at any time of the day. With better weather and longer evenings there’s much more scope for eating outdoors, whether you’re having a hasty salad on a bench for your lunch break or a long, slow weekend family picnic. There’s so much delicious, seasonal produce out there that can inspire you to try new dishes and get you out of any cooking rut you might be in. If you get a veg box delivered to your house this is a great way to not only support local farmers, but it also forces you to experiment with new vegetables and tastes. However, you don’t need to spend much money to eat well, especially at this time of year.
In the spirit of this luscious freshness and cooking on a budget, here are some simple, delicious things to try over the summer. And to make things even easier, we’ve found a recipe for each meal, so you can liven up your cooking at any time of day. If you can’t get outside to eat them, make sure you at least put away your phone and try to sit near a window (open if possible), and take a moment to really taste and enjoy your food.
For breakfast: Crunchy Magic Cereal
Breakfast is often overlooked, unless you find yourself with a long weekend morning in which to give it your full attention. For most of us we need something quick, easy and nutritious to set us on our way for the day. This recipe by Heidi Swanson is so easy it’s barely even a recipe, but it’s just what you want to reach for on a busy workday morning. Once you’ve made up the cereal mixture all you need to do for the rest of the week is pour it out and add your favourite milk or yoghurt. We recommend pairing it with this creamy overnight breakfast rhubarb fool, a perfect combination of the tang and vivid pink rhubarb with the softness and sweetness of honeyed ricotta and yoghurt.
For lunch: Vegan sabich sandwich
A vegan sabich sandwich makes a fabulous packed lunch or picnic addition. This fresh twist on the traditional Israeli sabich (which contains eggs and roasted eggplants) is hearty yet not stodgy – more like a meal than the usual tired, limp sandwiches we know and tolerate. Combining tabouleh, eggplants, beans and potatoes with creamy sauce means that things can get messy. Make sure you pack a linen napkin (or more if you are taking these to a picnic), and wrap your sabich carefully to prevent any seepage.
Afternoon tea: Eton mess cake
Nothing says summer quite like strawberries and cream, and this fabulous cake makes the most of both these ingredients. Baking it as a tray bake means you can easily transport this cake if you are taking it to friends or family, or simply devour by yourselves. You can make your own meringues if you have the time and inclination but shop-bought ones do perfectly well here. Serve with cucumber sandwiches and fresh mint tea for a properly old-fashioned afternoon tea, or slice into squares and leave in the tin for people to grab and share.
Dinner: Rice salad with fava beans and pistachios
This light dinner mixes wild and basmati rice for a distinctive texture, tossed together with dill, lightly cooked lava beans, parsley and lemon zest. This can be made in advance and in bulk as it keeps for two days. Perfect for a casual summer pot-luck dinner outside with friends. Dress your table with a simple linen tablecloth, add some fresh flowers and candles and you have an instant, easy setting for a relaxed evening meal.
Drinks: Cucumber and elderflower gin and tonic
Gin is having a bit of a moment. If you haven’t veered away from the traditional G&T yet, try this delicious cucumber and elderflower version. All the freshness of summer scents and tastes, with the kick of a good gin. This is a lovely drink to serve if you have guests over or are on holiday with family. Sit outside, with soft woolly blankets in case the evening gets chilly, and watch the sunset with a refreshing tipple and good friends.
Any favourite summer recipes you’d like to share?