What does June mean to you? Here it signals the rapidly approaching end of school year, which in turn equates to getting a mammoth push on the list of ‘things that need to be done without help from small people’! Disciplined collating of paperwork, list making, tidying away – all those things that are ‘jobs for another day’ suddenly take on urgency when the thought of six whole weeks of the kids being home lurk on the horizon. Crazy lady behaviour, true, but I know I’m not alone! So here I am, writing out my latest list of things I feel I need to achieve before the end of term, including getting some blog posts in ‘The Bank’ for when I don’t have time to sit and write without interruptions, when the realisation hits me that we’re already a week into June and I’ve not got a food post up yet for this month. Cue abandonment of list, and hitting the keyboard. Without further rambling, here’s your mini guide to what is seasonal fare in June…
English Asparagus – bountiful now in farmer’s markets, unbeatable for taste (in my humble opinion) to its air freighted cousins from South America. Asparagus loves: Parma ham, bacon, dippy eggs, hollandaise, salt and pepper, lemon juice, fish, shellfish, new spuds, butter, chilli…Keep it in the fridge – nobody likes floppy spears!
Broad beans – young’uns can be gently cooked and eaten with the white skins still on, bigger ones you may prefer to peel the skin off once cooked. Broad beans love strong flavours and go well with things like chorizo, chilli, salty hams and bacon, mint, feta cheese, lamb, lemon, garlic and nuts. Great whizzed up into a dip with some yoghurt, mint and lemon (delicious on toast too). Keep them in the fridge. If you are lucky enough to have a glut, blanch in boiling water then plunge into ice water before freezing. Cook straight from frozen or defrost to use in salads and dips.
Courgettes – did you know these are actually summer squashes? (Courge is French for squash – every day is a learning day here!) Courgettes are as delicious raw as they are cooked, try them raw in salads (as you would a cucumber), thinly sliced with feta and lemon juice, roasted in the oven, baked, stuffed, in cakes, dipped in batter and flash fried, steamed – the possibilities are infinite! If you have grown your own, the flowers are beautiful stuffed with cheese and/or rice.
Broccoli – Broccoli is busting with vits and flavours, loves cheese, garlic, almonds, ginger, beans, pulses, lemon, soy sauce, cream and nuts. Delicious hot or cold, raw or cooked, in salads, stir fries, bakes, soups, roasted or steamed to name but a few.
Cherries – utterly divine, just as they are. Also good with duck, feta, salads, ice cream, baked in cakes and puds, as compote or jam.
Peas – freshly picked and podded peas are a thing of beauty. Lovely used in salads and dips, cooked and dressed in butter with fresh mint, as an accompaniment or as a treat on top of hot toast and soft cheese, chuck in a handful with pretty much any dish and these lovely pops of freshness will lift the dish (e.g. risotto, rice, noodles, curry…)
Radishes – lovely on their own, good for snacking (as you would grapes) eaten whole, thinly sliced and lightly pickled, use to add crunch to salads, top burgers, dipped in salt, delicious with smoked salmon, stir fried with lime, ginger and chicken, mixed through a potato salad – you can even chuck them in the juicer with a couple of carrots and ginger for company. Good friends with goat’s cheese, mint, hummus, mackerel, olives, as a salsa with lamb or fish – leaves are also good in juices, salads and as a base for ‘pesto style’ sauce.
Strawberries – yes, we can get strawbs year round here in the UK but June is when our home-grown British strawberries hit the shelves. Do a taste test for yourself; the difference between the big beefy imported numbers from Spain and Israel, against our smaller, sweeter British counterparts is in my humble opinion huge. There are so many ways to eat a strawberry, from ‘naked’ to homemade ice cream and cakes, in jams, smoothies, in sweet or savoury salads (good with peppery rocket), with grilled halloumi and Parma ham, with balsamic vinegar or ground black pepper (really) – give some a whirl.
Watercress – another from the ‘delicious raw or cooked’ tribe. Great as a peppery salad to accompany richer foods, in soups and juices, mixed with some grated carrot and raw grated beetroot and sesame seeds with a soy dressing. Like its fellow peppery salad leaf rocket, watercress is partial to blue cheese, nuts, steak, chicken, grapefruit, salmon, potatoes and oily fish.
Much of what was good for eating in May will blur over into June, especially with the weather being so erratic these days – think back to Winter 2012/13 – months of freezing and snow and yet this past winter there wasn’t really a ‘Big Freeze’ so to speak, just a very soggy, grey collection of months: the crops are as confused as we are so some are early and some are late. Your local farm shop/ farmers market/ greengrocer should be more than able to help you out with what is local and perfect for eating right now.
Whatever you decide to eat this month, enjoy it, experiment a bit and cook up a storm!
Mrs N x