This is the time of year I like to put several dishes on the table at the same time, a mix of recipes substantial enough to be main courses and others that can be used as an accompaniment or principal dish, as the mood takes you. This approach – thoughtful but relaxed – suits the more informal attitude I have to eating in summer, when courses become interchangeable and dishes tend to be served at cool room temperature, rather than direct from the oven or grill.
Scallops with lime and mint
I say scallops because that is what caught my eye at the fishmongers, but raw, grey prawns work here, too, peeled and sliced in half. I wouldn’t leave any fish or shellfish in the marinade for more than an hour, as the texture will change over time.
Serves 4 as a light Main Dish
lime juice 75ml
limes zest of 2
olive oil 3 tbsp
For the tomato salad
cucumber 250g (one medium)
assorted tomatoes 250g, green, orange, cherry
spring onions 2
large tomatoes 2
sherry vinegar 3 tbsp
garlic 2 cloves
olive oil 3 tbsp
basil about 6 stems and leaves
Trim the scallops, then remove and reserve the corals. Slice each scallop into three horizontally, then place both white and corals in a single layer in a shallow dish. Mix together the lime juice, zest and olive oil, add a grind or two of black pepper, then pour over the scallops, cover and refrigerate for at least 25 minutes.
For the tomato salad, lightly peel the cucumber, slice in half lengthways, then scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon and discard. Cut the cucumber into thin strips, about ½cm wide, then into small dice. Transfer half to a mixing bowl. Reserve the remaining cucumber. Dice the 250g of assorted tomatoes and add them to the bowl, then trim and finely chop the spring onions, folding them into the tomato and cucumber.
Put the kettle on to boil. Place the two large tomatoes in a heatproof basin, pour over the freshly boiled water, and leave them for 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from the water and peel off the skins. Halve the peeled tomatoes, discard the seeds then put the flesh in a blender with the sherry vinegar, peeled garlic, olive oil, basil leaves and their stems, a little salt and the reserved chopped cucumber. Process to a thick puree then fold into the chopped cucumber and tomato, cover and chill thoroughly.
To serve, spoon the tomato salad and its dressing onto a shallow bowl or serving plate. Place the marinated scallops on top, spoon over the marinade and serve.
Trout with Three-Herb Potato Salad
Gentle flavours for a summer lunch.
trout 2 large, filleted
onion 1 medium
black peppercorns 8
dill 4 sprigs
parsley 6 stalks
white wine or vermouth such as Noilly Prat 150ml
new potatoes 400g
For the mayonnaise
egg yolks 3
dijon mustard 1 tsp
lemon juice a little
groundnut oil 250ml
olive oil 100ml
mint 12 leaves
parsley the leaves of about 6 sprigs
dill fronds 2 tbsp, chopped
salad leaves a couple of generous handfuls, washed and dried
Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Place the trout fillets in a roasting tin or baking dish. Peel and finely slice the onion and add to the trout, together with three thin slices of lemon, the black peppercorns and ½ tsp of sea salt, the dill and the parsley stalks, the white wine or vermouth and the water. Cover with foil and slide into the oven. Leave to bake for 20 minutes, then remove and leave the fish, covered and still in the stock, to cool.
Boil the new potatoes in deep, salted water, for about 20 minutes till tender.
While the potatoes are cooking make the mayonnaise. Put the egg yolks into a mixing bowl, add the mustard and a good squeeze of lemon juice, and very slowly whisk in the groundnut and olive oils until you have a thick mayonnaise that will stand in soft peaks.
Finely chop the mint, parsley and dill and fold into the mayonnaise, seasoning with a little salt as you wish.
When the potatoes are tender to the point of a knife, drain them, slice them into thick coins and toss them gently with the mayonnaise.
Remove the trout from the cooking liquor and pat dry, then break it into large pieces. Serve with the salad leaves and potato mayonnaise.
Quinoa with Peas and Sprouted Seeds
A salad of multiple textures, with soft young leaves, crunchy, lightly cooked peas and the pleasing knubbly quality of quinoa. Once made, it is a useful base for leftover roast chicken or cold pork torn into juicy pieces, or simply to put on the table with other dishes. I should add that it makes a sound addition to a lunch box, and will be fine in the fridge for a couple of days.
peas 400g (weight with pods)
sprouted mung, sunflower and radish seeds 100g
cress a small punnet
micro leaves and petals 1 large handful
For the dressing
pomegranate molasses 2 tbsp
lemon juice 2 tbsp
olive oil 2 tbsp
Put the quinoa into a pan with 175ml of water and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 6 minutes before turning off the heat and leaving, covered, for 20 minutes.
Pod the peas and cook them in deep, lightly salted boiling water for 4 minutes or until they are almost tender. (They are good when slightly undercooked.) Drain and plunge them into iced water.
To make the dressing, mix together in a large mixing bowl the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and olive oil, and season lightly. Wash the sprouted seeds in a sieve under running cold water and shake dry. Run a fork through the quinoa to separate the grains, then tip them into the dressing.
Mix the sprouted seeds, cress, and micro leaves and petals with the quinoa and its dressing, and serve.