Ignore the occasional thunderstorm you might’ve experienced in the past few weeks – summer is so close we can almost taste it. In fact, a flavour of things to come is already available in the greengrocers, with several summertime specialities beginning to appear.
By now you might have had your fill of broad beans and peas, but they’re set to get better and better as the weather warms up. If you fancy something a little different, however, keep an eye out for British-grown French beans; during the rest of the year they tend to be flown in from Africa, so are never as fresh as those grown here. They make a particularly good accompaniment to lamb, as seen in Nigel Haworth’s Confit shoulder of organic lamb, poached plum tomatoes, French beans and potato purée, and add a fresh crunch to Galton Blackiston’s Peanut chicken summer salad.
June marks the beginning of courgette season, with deep green and vibrant yellow varieties ready for eating. While they’re often sliced up and cooked, as in this Beef braised in red wine with Provençal vegetables, in the past year or so many have ended up spiralised, julienned or finely sliced into courgetti as a healthy alternative to pasta. Try it in a simple salad with Piccolo tomatoes, grilled corn and herb dressing, or use it as a bed for fish, as Matthew Tomkinson does in his dish of Hake with courgettes, Provençal mussel sauce and crispy breadcrumbs. Of course, don’t forget the flowers, which can be stuffed, fried or turned into tempura.