men the gardening calendar, the warmer days of early May usher in the main vegetable growing season and it’s time to plant your favorite crops in the ground or in containers in earnest.
But it’s between late August and early September, when summer harvests are in full swing and fall’s bounty is just beginning to roll in, that chef, food writer and vegetable grower Kathy Slack loves her garden the most. “There’s not a lot of work to do besides weeding and watering, and the harvests are spectacular,” she said. the independent.
Whether you’re a complete novice or born with a hobby of gardening, your debut book From the vegetable patch takes you through a full year in your garden, celebrating your ten favorite things to grow and the most exciting ways to eat them.
Here are three recipes from the book for beans, zucchini, and beets in season.
Grilled Holda beans with goat cheese, herbs and flowers
Helda beans are like green beans 2.0. They are flat and long like stolons, but smooth-skinned and stringless: a runner bean after a facelift. They grow prolifically, reliably, and without pests, but if you don’t grow them yourself, they are readily available in stores, often sold as flat beans or string beans.
The roast of the broad beans can be done, excellently, on the grill of a direct medium-high heat barbecue or on a grill plate.
I almost always serve this dish at barbecues, sprinkling generous handfuls of herbs (and edible flowers if I can find them) on top with crusty bread on the side. It’s a bluesy, laid-back dish that has lazy summer lunch written all over it.
It serves: 4
Weather: 15 minutes
700 g Helda beans or other flat beans, such as young beans if you can’t find Helda, without heads and tails
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon liquid honey
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
2 spring onions, finely chopped
A small bunch of mixed green herbs (parsley, mint, dill, sorrel, chives, basil)
125 g soft and creamy goat cheese
Edible flowers (chives, nasturtium, calendula), to finish (optional)
Put a griddle on high heat and let it get very hot, or prepare your barbecue (see introduction). Toss beans in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Place them in the hot skillet or on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes, then turn them over and cook for the same amount of time on the other side, so they are marked with dark charred lines on both sides. Depending on the size of your griddle or barbecue, you may need to do this in batches to achieve even charring. Once cooked, transfer to a heatproof bowl.
In a bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil and honey, vinegar, and spring onions, along with a pinch of salt. Tear up the herbs and add them too. Mix together, then check the balance of flavors and adjust as needed. Pour the dressing over the warm beans and toss gently.
Arrange the dressed beans on a serving platter. Spread goat cheese chunks on top, drizzle over petal confetti to finish, if using, and serve.
Zucchini tart with lime buttercream
I’ll put plants in puddings if they cheer me up a bit. And an abundance of zucchini, with their bright trumpet flowers winking at me like orange emergency lights in vegetable gardens, is all the invitation I need. This is a very simple cake, not as strange as it seems, and the answer to many situations. Skip the buttercream and just dust it with icing sugar for onces; or smooth buttercream frosting and top with flowers for a rustic celebration cake. The following version is somewhere in between the two.
It serves: 8–10
Weather: 1¼ hours, plus cooling time
for the cake:
120ml sunflower oil
175g soft light brown sugar
165g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
175g courgettes, trimmed
Zucchini blossoms, or any edible flower, to finish (optional)
for the buttercream:
60 g unsalted butter, soft 120 g icing sugar
1 lime, zest and juice, plus extra zest to finish
Preheat oven to 195C/175C fan/gas mark 5½ and line a 21cm round cake tin with parchment paper.
Beat the eggs and sunflower oil in a pitcher until combined. This is your wet mix. In a large bowl, mix the sugar, flour, baking powder, and baking soda. This is the dry mix. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and combine with a spatula or wooden spoon.
Grate the zucchini with the coarse side of a box grater, then squeeze out any excess water and add the zucchini zests to the mixture. Fold everything together.
Pour batter into prepared pie pan and level top. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan as soon as your fingers can handle it, then let cool completely on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, make the buttercream. Simply mix the butter and icing sugar in a separate mixer until pale and fluffy. It will take several minutes. Add the lime zest, then gradually add the lime juice, beating well before adding the next drizzle of juice to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Once the cake is completely cool (and it must be very cold, otherwise the buttercream will melt), place it on a cake stand or serving plate and spread the buttercream on top. Finish with a zest of lime zest and some edible flowers if you have them on hand. Zucchini flowers would be especially pretty. The cake will keep for 2-3 days at room temperature, and another day, though less gracefully, if stored in the refrigerator after that.
Miso Roasted Beet Poke Bowl
Lots of ingredients, but not much hassle. The only real effort is in the sushi rice, which has a reputation for being complicated, but this method, taught to me in chef school, has never failed me. Once the rice and beets are dressed (both can be made ahead of time), it’s just a matter of adding the garnishes. And don’t bother with all the trimmings: nori chips, spring onions, peanuts, shichimi togarashi – they all help to bring out the earthy sweetness of the beets.
It serves: two
Weather: 1¾ hours
450g whole raw beets
175g sushi rice
1 tablespoon of mirin
1 tablespoon Japanese brown rice vinegar
4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1 teaspoon shichimi togarashi
2 spring onions, sliced
30g unsalted peanuts, chopped 1 tsp nori chips
For the miso dressing:
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon dark brown muscovado sugar
2 teaspoons white miso paste
4 teaspoons lime juice
1 teaspoon of mirin
2 teaspoons Japanese brown rice vinegar
2 teaspoons of tamari or soy sauce
2 teaspoons of sesame oil
2 teaspoons of sunflower oil
Preheat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7. Wrap each beet in foil, place on a baking sheet and roast for 1½-3 hours, depending on the size of your beets, or until they do not resist a touch. skewer inserted in their means. Unwrap the packets, then once cool enough to handle, peel and cut into chunks. You can do this ahead of time or while you prepare the rest of the dish.
For the miso dressing, simply mix everything together in a bowl and then pour it over the warm beetroot pieces.
Wash the sushi rice in a bowl of cold water. Drain in a colander and repeat at least two more times until the wash water is clear. After final draining, put the rice in a saucepan with 225 ml of water and a pinch of salt, close the lid and bring to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat and set a timer for 13 minutes. Don’t lift the lid, though it’s very tempting, or you’ll lose the steam that cooks the rice.
After 13 minutes, turn off the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. That lid will start to look really inviting, but hold on tight until the 10 minutes are up, at which point you can remove the lid, hooray, and dump the rice onto a baking sheet. Mix the mirin and brown rice vinegar together, then pour it over the hot rice and stir, spreading the rice all over the pan as you do. This helps it cool down quickly.
Mix the mayonnaise with the shichimi togarashi in a small bowl. Halve, pit, peel and slice the avocado and squeeze in a splash of lime juice to prevent browning (leave some lime untouched for serving).
To assemble, divide the rice between 2 bowls, then spoon the beet miso on top. Add half a sliced avocado to each bowl and spoon a tablespoon of mayonnaise on the side. Finish with the scallions, peanuts, and nori chips, offering a piece of the remaining squeezed lime on the side.
‘From the Veg Patch’ by Kathy Slack (Ebury Press, £25; photography by Kathy Slack).