Jess shares some of her favourite recipes for this months seasonal ingredients…

FI-june recipes
The days are getting longer and the weather is gradually hiking up to a temperature where it’s no longer necessary to don 3+ layers before even considering venturing out of the house. With this warmer weather comes an abundance of ingredients, ready and waiting to be plucked from the earth and placed on the table.

What better way to celebrate the beginning of summer than by sampling some scrumptious dishes, lovingly prepared with the season’s best produce.

Aspara-yes

M-asparagus

Once grown in high-walled gardens in ancient Greece due to its value and its medicinal reputation as a cure for toothache, asparagus is both nutritious and delicious. It contains more folic acid than any other vegetable – an essential vitamin, known for its importance to infants and pregnant ladies. Some people are extremely fond of these stalks, and there’s even an entire event dedicated to them – Asparafest.

When purchasing asparagus, there are certain signs you should look for to decide which are going to be the tastiest (without simply having a little gnaw on them all). Go for the tender stalks with closed tips, and try to consume as fresh as possible, as asparagus is notorious for losing its flavour and tenderness as soon as it’s been picked.

The unique flavour of asparagus can be enjoyed as part of a meal, or alone with a drizzle of olive oil or a couple of Parmesan cheese shavings. If you’re looking to include some asparagus in a dish of your own, why not try an asparagus and garden pea risotto?

Mx3-risotto

Ingredients
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 onion, chopped
• 250g risotto rice
• 1/4 of a bottle of white wine
• 2 chicken stock cubes
• 1 bunch asparagus, chopped
• 150g fresh peas
• 100g mature cheddar, grated
• 25g parmesan

Method
1. In a large saucepan, head the olive oil. Then add the onion and cook for approximately five minutes, until it has softened.
2. Stir in the rice and continue to stir for two minutes until the rice becomes slightly opaque.
3. Pour in the wine and chicken stock. Cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is cooked – this should take about 12-15 minutes.
4. Add boiling water until the asparagus and peas are covered and rapidly boil for about three minutes. Drain well.
5. Stir the vegetables and the cheddar cheese into the cooked rice.
6. Grate parmesan over the top and serve.

Spring (summer) Onion

M-spring onion

Cultivated for centuries, this mild plant is available all across the globe. Milder than their fully-grown siblings, spring onions are in season for most of the year, though are tastiest in the spring and early summertime. The health benefits of consuming spring onions are plenty, and the contain favanoids, which protects against heart disease and cancer.

When browsing the supermarket aisles, seek out the firmer, unblemished bulbs with bright green leaves.
Known in some English-speaking countries as a scallion, and others as a green onion, this vegetable can be eaten raw, or as part of a scrumptious meal. In Asia, you’ll find chopped scallion in soups and seafood dishes, whilst Indian menus will showcase spring onions as an appetizer. Here in the UK however, a potato salad with crispy bacon and spring onion makes for a great addition to a picnic spread.

Mx3-potato salad

Ingredients
• 20 mid-sized Jersey new potatoes (also currently in season)
• 2 bay leaves
• 25g butter
• 1 bunch of spring onions, chopped
• 4 slices smoked bacon
• 1tbsp olive oil
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season

Method
1. Scrub potatoes and rinse in cold water. Cook with bay leaves in boiling salted water for about 15-20 minutes until tender.
2. Meanwhile, preheat the grill to high. Melt butter in a small pan, then add spring onions, and cook gently for about 2 minutes to soften.
3. Grill bacon until crispy, then drain on kitchen paper and break into small pieces.
4. Drain the potatoes and toss with the spring onions, olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and black pepper. Transfer potatoes to a warmed serving dish and top with the bacon pieces.

 

 Strawberries

M-strawberry

Here in the UK, strawberries are the embodiment of summertime. Our native berries have a short but sweet season, though they’re available for a longer period of time thanks to importing. However, foreign strawberries are picked before they’re fully ripe to ensure they survive the journey without turning into purée. This means that British strawberries are often bigger, definitely sweeter, and therefore much tastier.

The health benefits of munching on these red berries are plentiful. They brighten teeth, assist with digestion (medical practices which date back to Roman times), contain an abundance of vitamin C and are also a good source of antioxidant flavanoids.
For a sweet treat containing this fabulous fruit, there’s nothing better than a cheesecake.

Mx3-cheesecake

Ingredients
250g digestive biscuits
100g butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
600g soft cheese
125g icing sugar
285ml double cream
400g punnet strawberries

Method
1. Line a 23cm loose-bottomed tin with baking parchment and butter. Place digestive biscuits in a plastic food bag and crush using a rolling pin until biscuits turn to crumbs. Add crumbs to a bowl, and then thoroughly mix in melted butter. Afterwards, tip into the prepared tin and press firmly down into the base to create an even layer. Chill in the fridge for one hour to firmly set.
2. Place soft cheese, 100g of icing sugar and vanilla into a bowl, then beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add double cream and continue beating until the mixture is completely combined. Spoon the cream mixture onto the biscuit base, making sure there are no air bubbles. Smooth the top of the cheesecake down with the back of a dessert spoon or spatula and leave to set in the fridge overnight.
3. To serve, bring cheesecake to room temperature approximately 30 minutes before serving and slowly slide out of the tin. Purée half the strawberries with remaining 25g icing sugar and 1 tsp water, then sieve. Pile the remaining strawberries onto cake and pour over purée.

Jessica Roberts

Jessica Roberts

Jess is a self-confessed Buzzfeed quiz addict and avid dog petter. When not writing about food, she's eating food – most often cooked by someone else. She once tried to replicate a bicycle trick she'd seen performed by circus acrobats. It did not go well.

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