As we reach the summer solstice and enjoy the longest day of the year, it really feels like summer is beginning and an abundance of seasonal fruit and veg are here for us to enjoy.
The appearance of marsh samphire is always eagerly awaited – this crisp, succulent sea vegetable only grows in salt marshes and tidal mudflats and has a unique salty tang.
Sometimes called ‘sea asparagus’, this tiny succulent plant is the perfect complement to fish or lamb. Surprisingly versatile, it is quick cooking and can be used in many ways – stir at the end through a seafood risotto or add to creamy omelettes. It’s glorious in summer salads, too, scattered through cherry tomatoes, broad beans, new potatoes and spring onions for a fresh seasonal side – explore this vibrant recipe here.
If you are tempted to try foraging, June to August is the best time. There are other coastal plants that look similar, such as rock samphire which has an odd pungent flavour, so do get help to carefully identify your finds and make sure you stay aware of tide times as it’s easy to get absorbed in picking.
At Riverford, samphire is hand-harvested from the beautiful Erme Estuary, from what was an organically-certified field that was flooded by the sea.
To serve samphire as an accompaniment, simply boil or steam it for three mins. Drain and toss in a little unsalted butter, olive oil, black pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Alternatively, try cooking it in unsalted butter for a few minutes. You probably won’t need any extra sea salt to season, as it’s salty enough, but taste before you serve. Snap it up while you can – the season is short, but the rewards are great.
Whole roast mackerel, samphire with chewy garlic and devilled tomatoes
This lovely, sea-themed whole roast mackerel, samphire with chewy garlic and devilled tomatoes recipe can be cooked in less than an hour. There are three strong and bold components to this meal: salty samphire, rich mackerel, and acid-sweet tomatoes which cut through the oiliness of the fish.
New potato and samphire frittata with basil and chives
Samphire doesn’t have to be served with fish or meat; if you’re vegetarian it pairs well with eggs, too. We’ve included some aromatic fresh herbs in this new potato and samphire frittata with basil and chives. If you are an adventurous cook and confident forager, in true midsummer style this recipe can even be made outdoors with freshly-picked samphire.
Last but not least, if you get a bumper harvest, turn some into a delicious pickle, great served with pâté and cheeses, or chopped into mayonnaise and served with fish.