Seasonal Suppers: The first of the summer vegetables
Pickling in summer is important. We have so many vegetables and flowers that we need to preserve for winter.
You know my thoughts on using a flamethrower in the kitchen. If in doubt, set it on fire. I love the taste of charred vegetables.
The first asparagus. The first peas. The first broad beans. May and June are wonderful months. Though technically summer, it feels more like spring. Our climate being cooler, everything grows and pops up a little later. But the wait is over. Finally, green dishes! Asparagus, peas and duck egg. Blanch your asparagus and peas. Poach a duck egg. Grate a little Hegarty’s cheddar over it all. Relax into the sunshine.
Asparagus has a beautiful history. The Romans ate it in season. Dried it in winter. Froze it in the Alps to preserve its purity. A recipe from 300 AD says to cook it quickly. I agree. Blanch. Burn. Serve. You know my thoughts on using a flamethrower in the kitchen. If in doubt, set it on fire. I love the taste of charred vegetables. You get a lot of goat’s yoghurt in summer too. It works well with asparagus. Cool acidity. Freshness. They marry well. Asparagus, goat’s yoghurt and loads of broad beans. Yum. Dress your beans in a nice light apple cider vinegar. Pickling in summer is important. We have so many vegetables and flowers that we need to preserve for winter. On a recent visit to Restaurant Geranium in Copenhagen I was surprised at how many flowers they pickled: elderflower, garlic, leek. They do wilt and lose their colour in the vinegar but the flavour is amazing. Think of a lightly chargrilled oyster and pickled elderflowers. Or roast onion cups with pickled wild garlic flowers. The possibilities are endless. Three, two, one. That’s a good formula for making a sweet pickle. Three parts vinegar, two parts sugar, and one part water. Bring to the boil and cool. With that you can pickle anything. This year, I think I will pickle some asparagus spears. I’m so sick of the short season of asparagus. I think pickling was invented to prolong the seasons. Many of us chefs speak of being seasonal, in our food and in our menus. But is the true pursuit not to defeat the seasons?