I love late spring and summer. All the yummiest local tender vegetables start making an appearance in the market, plus we start to see the first of the juicy tomatoes from Italy and Spain.
In an ideal world, we'd have glorious warm evenings, and minimal housework to do, to languidly enjoy a bit of pottering in the kitchen and eat on the back patio. The reality is usually a little different in dear ol' Blighty, but we can evoke warm weather eating, with really not a lot of effort.
I like to make up a selection of toppings for bruschetta, then, toast some good quality baguette or ciabbatta, and serve it all along with some cut cloves of garlic and some good quality olive oil. Then everyone around the table can choose how much garlic they would like to rub on their toasts, and which toppings they like the best, or even get creative with combining toppings as they wish. It makes for a comfortable, casual type of eating.
Here are my current favourite topping ideas:
- Classic Tomato, (use the juiciest, ripest tomatoes possible) a smidge of olive oil, balsamic vinegar & fresh basil
- Chopped Asparagus, lightly sauteed with some home-made pesto (my wild garlic pesto is amazing in early June)
- Artichoke & Olive Tapenade: Whizz together a drained tin of artichokes and some good quality pitted green olives. Yum.
- Peas & herbs. Gently cook some fresh green peas (or frozen!) in a little olive oil with some garlic and mix through some fresh parsley. I've even used edamame. Add fresh mint if you have some for a really trad English spin on the theme.
- Mushrooms, finely sliced, and cooked in with garlic and a hint of chilli & white wine.
The brilliant thing about this, is that you can adapt it according to the season. It's basically posh things on toast, but somehow, if you put everything out on a pretty board, maybe with a crunchy, leafy, zingy salad alongside, it seems so much more than that.
Serve with a crispy white wine and pretend you're in Italy or Spain.