August is a month of abundance and a plethora of fresh produce.
The heat can make our metabolism sluggish and cooking in the kitchen uncomfortable, so a simple salad is often the best option. Salad leaves and other greens are at their best at this time of year, so check the nearest greengrocers or farm shop to find fruit and veg at its very freshest (not laced with chemicals and wrapped in plastic).
Use lots of fresh herbs, and do not be intimidated by those you have never tried before. Adding chopped chives, parsley or sorrel to a finished dish or into a salad provides a great flavour punch. Taste the herbs on their own once you’ve bought and judge how much you want to add.
What herbs are in season and what do they pair with well, here is our little guide:
Basil and mozzarella (turn tired looking basil into pesto and drizzle over mozzarella)
Chives and eggs
Coriander and mango for a savoury salad
Oregano and tomatoes
Mint and pineapple
Parsley – topping for any dish
Rosemary and beans (simple bean and/or sausage casserole with lots of fresh rosemary)
Sage – melted butter over pasta or gnocchi
Tarragon and mushrooms
Thyme and pancetta mixed with mashed potatoes or as a base for a delicious risotto
When it comes to fruit, many berries are in season and undoubtedly at their sweetest. They are delicious on their own, but we have a few great pairing suggestions for you to try.
Try these combinations:
Strawberries with goats cheese and black pepper
Blueberries and lemon in baking (muffins or try topping rolled puff pastry with mascarpone, blueberries and lemon zest)
Apricots and lavender
Cherries and chocolate (a classic combo)
Gooseberries with elderflower and cream (turn all three into a syllabub)
Greengages and brandy (simply throw the greengages into some brandy. You can bake with the greengages in 24 hours for a boozy hit to any cake or leave them for a couple of months for a fruit drink)
Watermelon and feta
Raspberries and cardamom
Redcurrant and beef (try adding the berries to a rich sauce to go with beef)
Vegetables are bright and colourful in August and many are safe to eat raw to get the full flavour and nutritional benefits. Many will also work well on a BBQ with a light marinade, just charred. Why not try these flavour combinations:
Artichoke and dill
Aubergine and tahini (make a sauce for grilled aubergine by combining yoghurt, lemon juice and tahini)
Beetroot and cumin
Broad beans and pecorino (serve fresh, raw broad beans with a few slivers of the cheese with your aperitif)
Broccoli and almonds
Carrots and hazelnuts
Sweetcorn and chilli
Courgette and garlic
Radishes and anchovies
What else is in season: onions, cucumber, fennel, beans, garlic, kohlrabi, salad leaves, new potatoes, peas, peppers
One of our favourite things to do is to use cucumber strips as a vehicle for other foods, such as goat cheese mousse or a salmon tartare.
There is meat in season also, such as lamb, beef, rabbit, venison or wood pigeon. Most will be great on a BBQ! Check out our BBQ recipes here.
Although conventional summer barbecues call for lots of red meat, it is actually fish and seafood that really stand out at this time of year. Fishing stocks are high with lots of species in season, meaning an abundance of quality produce. Meat from these sources also tends to be healthier and easier to digest, leaving more energy for other summery activities (or more room for cold beer!). Fish pairs well with fresh herbs, chilli, garlic, butter and lots of fresh veggies. For a simple BBQ idea, marinate queen scallops (the small ones), prawns and chorizo in Harissa for 20 minutes, thread on skewers and grill until cooked through.