Speed plating

The weather we’ve had here has brought on a very un-British jumping of queues and uncontrolled excess in the vegetable and fruit patch. All of a sudden, everything is producing at the same time and in startling quantities.

I’m not complaining, but I hate any of it to go to waste. We’ve notched up a gear on our veg consumption and I’m trying to pick everything small so that it’s flavour-packed but not too overwhelming in volume. And things which are easy to serve up outside without too much fuss, and that go with salads.

I find the quickest and tastiest was to cook summer veg is in the frying pan, where it has plenty of space to let off steam without getting mushy.

I don’t get water anywhere near the broad beans. Or anything else if I can help it. Simply add to a pan with some butter (add some peas or mange touts if you have them) and stir gently until they’re just cooked through.

Mix and match. For speed, I like to sauté summer vegetables all together (chop so that they will cook evenly) with some olive oil until barely cooked and then stir in some cheese at the end to unify the flavours. I like to use cubed feta or shaved Parmesan for their salty accent, or you could use crispy bacon lardons. If you can’t eat it all, it’s nice cold too.

Small courgettes, chopped into chunky wedges. Stir into hot olive oil, and brown. Add a big squirt of tomato paste and a clove or two of chopped garlic, and chopped parsley. Keep moving about until all coated and the purée has reduced and intensified, and serve hot. Nice with BBQ meats and some spring onion dip (see below).

This is also a nice way to coat them for a frittata. Slice the courgettes and cook as above, so that most of the moisture is out and the flavours melded onto the browned courgettes before adding the beaten eggs at the end.

And no cooking required. Make a quick dip with chopped spring onions, mixed into some natural yoghurt.  Use as a cool, uncomplicated accompaniment to hot and spicy dishes. Or at the BBQ in the sunshine.

Let’s get this veg back outside!



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