Summer is a time when food should be tossed together with very little effort, time outside is at a premium and nobody wants to spend hours slaving over a hot stove.
Let great big salads with a juicy piece of grilled meat and a little, zesty something to follow form the backbone of your summer suppers.
Here’s a few of our summer supper hits of 2013
Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds
This salad hails from the book Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi and has been a regular feature on our table since around Easter. It’s one of those deceptively tasty dishes – the food equivalent of a dress that doesn’t look much on the hanger but is the belle of the ball.
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 1/2 oz/100g pitted Medjool dates, quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons/30g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small pitas, roughly torn into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup/75g whole unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons sumac
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
5 ounces/150g baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Put the vinegar, onion, and dates in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix well with your hands. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes, then drain away any residual vinegar and discard.
Meanwhile, heat the butter and half of the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the pita and almonds and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring all of the time, until the pita is crunchy and golden brown. Remove from the heat and mix in the sumac, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside to cool.
When you are ready to serve, toss the spinach leaves with the pita mix in a large mixing bowl. Add the dates and red onion, the remaining olive oil, the lemon juice, and another pinch of salt. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.
Serve with the aforementioned juicy cut of beef, or lamb of your choice and your guests will be eating out your hands – but, only if you want, they’d probably prefer a plate.
Sage and Lemon Ice Cream with Roasted Apricots
The first time I made this ice cream I flew into a panic because I couldn’t find my ice cream maker. In the end I made it by hand, simply plonking it in the freezer in my ceramic mixing bowl and taking it out once or twice, every couple of hours to whisk it by hand, then decanting it into an old Mackie’s Ice Cream tub. It was remarkably easy and allowed me to make double the quantity without faffing about. Best mislaid kitchen gadget moment, ever – will never need my ice cream maker again.
All quick, easy and no nonsense.
Sage and Lemon Ice Cream
500ml single cream (though I used double and it worked a treat)
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp finely chopped sage leaves
160g caster sugar
Put the cream. lemon zest and sage in a saucepan and bring slowly to a boil. Set aside to cool and infuse the lemon and sage flavors into the cream.
Meanwhile, whisk the sugar with the lemon juice and add 1 tablespoon of the cream mixture until the sugar dissolves. Add the remaining cream mixture and whisk well for a couple of minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover and put in the freezer.
After an hour, remove the bowl from the freezer, give an energetic whisk with a whisk or electric mixer, and return the bowl to the freezer. Whisk again after another couple of hours. When it is nearly firm, give one last whisk, transfer to a suitable freezing container with a lid, and let it chill in the freezer until it is firm.
Alternatively, pour the mixture into your ice cream machine and freeze, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
unsalted butter for the dish
800g apricots, halved and stoned
2 tbsp golden caster sugar
1 unwaxed lemon, juiced and zested into strips
1 vanilla pod
200ml sweet white wine, such as Muscat
Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter the inside of an ovenproof dish and add the apricots, cut-side up in a single layer and scatter the sugar over. Add the lemon juice and zest.
Split the vanilla pod in half and tuck in among the fruit. Pour over the sweet wine and cook on the middle shelf of the oven for about 40 minutes until the fruit is tender and the liquid reduced to a syrup.
Serve with the Lemon and Sage Ice Cream.
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