With the temperature outside and the cost of energy rising daily, now is the ideal time to make the most of the summer season’s vibrant veg, use less energy, and let those flavours shine out.
Most things, except potatoes, can be used raw in salads alongside salad leaves – thin ribbons of raw fennel, carrot or courgette made using a veg peeler are great additions. Colour and crunch from sugar snap peas, peppers, or matchsticks of kohlrabi work well, too.
Any veg on the bitter side need balancing out with sharp flavours, while sweeter veg likes something salty. Try raw broccoli with a citrus dressing in salads, or a simple plate of ripe tomatoes and olives.
It’s easy to use a tin of puy lentils or chickpeas to add in protein or try topping your salad with toasted nuts and seeds, whilst fresh herbs such as basil, coriander, mint, parsley, or dill lift any salad.
No need to buy expensive ready-made dressings either – the basic formula is three parts oil (sunflower, nut oil or olive) to one part acid (citrus juice vinegar, buttermilk, or yoghurt) plus flavourings (such as herbs, spices, garlic, honey, mustard, or soy). For speed, pop it all in a jar and shake like crazy.
Here are some easy ideas for five low-energy recipes that pack a lot of flavour in and make the most of what’s plentiful now:
Szechuan-style smashed cucumber salad is fun to make, and great if you have a glut of them to use from your garden. Smashing them releases the moisture in the cucumber, intensifying their flavour and helping them absorb a simple but incredibly moreish dressing. For the recipe, click here.
Originally from Mexico, pale green tomatillos have a tangy, citrus sweetness that’s lovely for a summer’s day. Remove the papery lantern-like husks, give them a rinse, and they are ready to use. This quick salsa verde recipe could be your new best friend at a BBQ; it lends itself to all things chargrilled – chicken, pork, white fish or summer veg. Click here for the recipe.
Another great no-cook recipe is ceviche. This classic Central American fish dish makes a great canapé served in Little Gem lettuce leaves. Add sliced avocado and salad for a light, healthy lunch. The acid in the lime acts similarly to cooking it lightly, but it’s still important to use very fresh fish. For how to make, click here.
Radishes are a plentiful and popular crop for gardeners, but often underused in the kitchen; did you know you can also eat the tasty leaves? This is a lovely way to turn a whole bunch into a colourful zero-waste side dish. Stir fry the tops with ginger, chill and garlic – they will be ready in a minute and can be topped with an easy radish pickle. Click here for the recipe.
Kohlrabi also makes a great quick pickle; infusing it with aromatics dials up the flavour and making a jar uses up the whole veg in one go. A basic pickling liquid can be made with just water, vinegar, honey, and salt. Vary the herbs and spices as you like and use the end result folded into coleslaw and salads for a burst of sharpness, or added burgers, wraps and sandwiches. For how to make, click here.