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Eat the Seasons - August 2013


Fruits & Nuts

Apples, Apricot, Aubergine, Blackberries, Blackcurrants, Blueberries, Loganberries, Peaches, Plums, Raspberries, Redcurrants, Strawberries, Whitecurrants, Cobnuts, Hazelnuts
Vegetables & Herbs
Artichokes, Aubergines, Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbages, Carrots, Cauliflower, Chard, Courgettes, Cucumber, Fennel, French Beans, Garlic, Kohlrabi, Lamb’s Lettuce, Onions, Pak Choi, Peas (inc. Sugar Snaps) Potatoes, Radishes, Rocket, Runner Beans, Salsify, Scorzonera, Samphire, Sorrel, Spinach, Sweetcorn, Tomatoes, Watercress

Meat & Game
Lamb, Rabbit, Venison, Wood Pigeon
Fish & Shellfish
Black Bream, Crab (brown, hen & Spider), Signal Crayfish, Grey Mullet, Lobster, Mackerel, Pollack, Prawns, Scallops, Sea Bass, Squid, Trout (river – brown and rainbow)

Going out of season

Blackberries, Blueberries, Cherry, Mangetout, Peach, Redcurrant, Strawberries (many of these towards the end of the month)

In the UK we have a fantastic variety of home grown fruit and vegetables, never more apparent than now, in the height of Summer.  If you have got out of the habit of eating seasonally then now is a great time to break bad habits.  Eating seasonal produce isn’t just about jumping on the environmental bandwagon; it also means you get to enjoy food when it is at its best, and to feel more in tune with the changing seasons.  It feels so natural to enjoy home grown raspberries and strawberries in August; and the more dense and earthy root vegetables such as turnips and squash in January.  When you eat seasonally you should find you are simply eating the food that you crave naturally!

For me August is all about tomatoes.  This is the time to really savour this wonderful fruit at the peak of its freshness, especially picked fresh from the vine on a sunny afternoon.

The fresh musky-scented tomato is one of nature's fast-foods needing little or no work at all; a dash of fruity olive oil;a sprinkle of sea salt; a few scented basil leaves.  Enjoy them on their own, as part of a salad, or whip up a sauce in less than 15 minutes with a few over-ripe fruits.

Unless you are growing your own tomatoes, make sure you choose the best: tomatoes should be faintly aromatic and the stalks and leaves should look fresh and green. Store tomatoes at room temperature, never in the fridge, as this deadens the flavour of the fruit. However, if you absolutely must keep them in the fridge, then remove them well before you want to eat them and allow to come to room temperature before eating.

Ratatouille
This rich vegetarian tomato sauce with soft aubergine, courgette and peppers is a favourite with everyone in my family.

Serves 4
Ingredients


  • 2 Aubergines
  • 4 Small courgettes
  • 2 Red peppers
  • 4 Large tomatoes
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Chopped onions
  • 2 Crushed cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 Tsp sugar
  • Freshly ground salt and black pepper
  • Small bunch of freshly torn basil
 

Method

  1. Cut the aubergines into quarters lengthways, then cut the quarters into 2.5cm/1in slices. Cut the courgettes into 2.5cm/1in slices. De-seed the peppers and cut them into bite-sized pieces.

  2. Score a cross in the base of each tomato and place them in a heatproof bowl. Pour over enough boiling water to cover and set aside for one minute. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle, then peel away the skins. Cut them into quarters, scoop out the seeds and discard. Roughly chop the flesh.

  3. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole dish and add the onions. Cook over a gentle heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown and very tender. Add the aubergines and courgettes, increase the heat slightly and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the peppers, garlic, sugar, some salt and pepper and half the basil and mix well. Cover and cook over a very gentle heat for 20 minutes.

  4. Add the tomatoes to the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes.  Scatter with the remaining basil and serve.