Fast and fresh
In the heat of the summer, I’m always faced with the same dilemma – I soon get tired of too much cold food, but at the same time I don’t fancy anything that needs a lot of cooking, particularly if it has to be done in the oven.
We do barbecue a lot, but even that can start to pall, and in spite of it being 35ºC or more outside, I find myself hankering after a nice meaty stew with dumplings or a roast chicken with all the trimmings. Then I think of that oven and soon decide against it.
So, fast and fresh are the watchwords at the moment.
Lasagne and cannelloni are for the winter, so for fast food in the summer it has to be varieties like penne, fusilli and rigatoni as they cook relatively quickly.
My husband is not a great pasta fan so I have to add things he likes. Prawns are one of them, and my ‘little ears’ (orecchiette) with prawns, peas and pesto always go down well.
I have made it with large prawns, but they’re expensive and not really necessary, so now I use small cocktail prawns. We like this dish hot, but it is also good chilled and packed in a cooler box for the beach.
Swordfish is my favourite summer fish, but I will only buy slices from a big fish, never from one of those tiddlers which, unfortunately, you often see on display. I usually cook swordfish either on the barbecue or griddle pan, and I like it with a Maltese-style sauce of tomatoes, capers and mint, or alternatively with a pepper and onion salsa, and always with buttery small new potatoes.
Pork satays threaded on bamboo sticks take only minutes to cook, again either on the barbecue or griddle pan. The pork needs to be beaten out very thinly and then marinated in the spicy peanut sauce.
They are nice served with rice and a crunchy lettuce, radish and peanut salad, and accompanied by a dipping sauce. Sweet chilli sauce is a good one, and so is the mango mayo from my chicken burger recipe, as we discovered when we used up some leftovers in the fridge.
Nearly everyone likes burgers, but curried chicken burgers are a bit different. I’m never quite sure what bits are used in pre-packaged chicken mince, so I make my own. I like to use chicken thighs as I think dark meat gives a better flavour for burgers, so I buy thighs on the bone, which are one of the cheapest cuts of all, then pulse the meat in the processor. Add some curry paste, ginger and fresh coriander, plus one or two other bits and pieces, shape into burgers and tuck them into pita bread. With some lettuce and slices of tomato, and a mango chutney-flavoured mayonnaise, you have a very tasty supper.
And for pudding? Well, that’s simple as there’s always ice cream in the freezer, watermelon in the fridge and some peaches in the fruit basket.