Cooking seasonally is not just a great ethical approach, it offers a new realm of excitement and a varied diet. Waiting for your favourite ingredients to come good, dictating your evening meals by what the green grocer has plenty of … .
It is the best way to get things done – Opt for good local summer produce, it helps hone your cooking skills, increases your knowledge and is generally better for you, the world and those around you!
This time of year the variety of radishes on offer is plentiful to say the least, a great example of summer produce at it’s best. High in vitamin C and very low in calories; radishes are perfect for a crisp element in salads, pickling, with a delicious fresh ceviche or through your favourite summer slaw.
Look for firm vibrant coloured radish, undamaged leaves and few blemishes. Store with the leaves removed in the fridge. Should they start to go soft, they can be kept hydrated in chilled water.
Simply wash and cut to your desired shape or size. Ideally for salads and pickling the finer the cut the better to avoid an overwhelming pepperiness. For roasting or, as a crudité, a larger cut or even whole – dependant on flavour and size.
To pickle, steep in an aromatic vinegar, sugar and water solution (equal parts works well – the water can also be replaced with white wine)
For salad preparation, simply wash, slice and serve fresh …
We get particularly excited around the beginning of mango season as I am sure some of you also do!
What a delicious jewel of a fruit; the equivalent to candy on a tree, easily the most luxurious fruit within our summer produce realms.
Full of nutrients and packed with vitamin C, mangos are great sweet or savoury.
Look for a firm fruit with a little bit of give when a small amount of pressure is applied by your thumb. Look for soft spots or bruising and try to avoid.
Fantastic simply served fresh, great in a smoothie or a shake. Even simply dressed with lime juice and frozen they offer a great alternative to a sugary popsicle.
When preparing the fruit, square off the bottom (To stop the fruit rolling around while trying to slice) peel the skin with a sharp knife and remove the cheeks. To avoid the stone in the centre place the mango tall way up with the longest width of the fruit parallel to the side of the chopping board, slice carefully trying to avoid the tough stone.
Although often available year round, NSW capsicums fall in the summer produce category. Australian capsicums are abundant this time of year and with the lush weather they blend well to al fresco style dining, BBQs and fit perfectly with grilled meats, fish and salads.
For a sweet capsicum, look for a deep rich red fruit, shiny skin and few shades of green. For a bitter capsicum look for a green fruit, again firm and with a reassuring shine to the flesh.
Great simply sliced raw but even better fire roasted or grilled to enhance sweetness with a smoky tone.
To flame grill leave whole, for Barbecuing or roasting, try cutting the capsicum into large chunks and dressing with olive oil, garlic, flaked salt and a pinch of smoked paprika.
To get that classic burnt fire roasted sweetness, cook whole directly over the flame on your stove top. Cook until the skin is completely black all over, remove from the heat and place in a bowl covered with glad wrap.
Once cooled, carefully remove the burnt skin and seeds from the inside. You should be left with a sweet, smoky, perfectly cooked capsicum!
This is just a glimpse into some our fine summer produce; make sure you get your hands on some fresh butter beans, fine green beans, okra or sugar snap peas. Pineapples, nectarines and peaches are superb in summer as are Valencia oranges and passion fruit.
What’s your favourite summer produce? which summer goodies would you like to mention, any recipes to share or storage and preparation tips?
We would love to hear your comments below.