Ready for autumn yet? Us neither, but there is something to really treasure in this very last bit of summer with its golden, languid light. A mellower time of year; not the energetic burst of peak ‘summer flush’ when veg grows rapidly during long hot days, but a steadily plentiful veg harvest that is delicious and diverse. Here is our pick of the bunch:
As outdoor eating is still on, globe artichokes are one to really get stuck in to – you can dip the tender leaf tips into melted butter and lemon without worrying about making a mess! Many are put off by the prep, but once mastered this delectable veg is great for unhurried evenings of chatting and dining. For a more substantial dish, artichokes with white wine and thyme is great served with some good sourdough bread, and easily fortified with the addition of some white beans or cured ham. For the full recipe click here or watch the below Veg Hack video.
Spinach can be a veg that gets easily neglected in the fridge but is incredibly versatile, adding its power packed green goodness to such a wide variety of dishes, from sweet potato, spinach and almond curry to ricotta gnocchi.
Tagines are perfect for now – warming but not too heavy: chicken, spinach and chickpea tagine with harissa is a great dish that can be made with baby spinach or larger leaved varieties, whatever you have to hand. Flecked with fresh herbs and sweet juicy apricots, it is easy to make and delightful to eat. For the recipe click here.
Fresh beans are still plentiful, so by this time of the season new ways to enjoy them are a must. Try slow cooking them in a rich, spiced tomato sauce for a healthy vegetarian main. Serve with brown rice, or with couscous flavoured with lemon juice and zest, chopped black olives and finely chopped parsley and mint. If you have a glut of runner beans to contend with, this freezes well too. For the full recipe, click here.
Still got the BBQ out? Many bean varieties – such as flat beans or French beans – can be cooked over it for a deliciously charred taste. For a simple Griddled flat beans with burnt lemon tahini dressing recipe, click here.
Patty pan squash
Mild and soft-skinned, patty pan squash look like little golden pies (or flying saucers). Harvested while young and tender, they taste a bit like courgettes, but with firmer flesh and a more buttery flavour that’s a good vehicle for herbs and spices.
One of the few types of squash you don’t have to peel, just trim the top and bottom – all the rest is good to eat. For an elegant centrepiece, serve whole, stuffed and roasted. They can also be cut into slices or cubes and braised, steamed, sautéed or roasted. If roasting chunks, try pairing with thyme, some chilli flakes or a sprinkle of parmesan. Click here for a simple recipe for roasting.