At this time of year, my diet becomes almost entirely plant-based.
I guess it’s natural: high-season summer produce is alluring, with mouth-watering shapes and colors, and the kind of sweetness that’s just been freshly picked. It’s the magical moment when melons, berries, stone fruits, peppers, tomatoes, corn, beans and squash collide.
This menu celebrates that moment. It’s not difficult to perform, but it makes good use of a jam-packed market basket.
For an extremely simple yet incredibly refreshing salad, grab a melon, cucumber, and a handful of cherry tomatoes. With really ripe fruit, the only seasoning you need is salt, pepper, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
The melon reflects the sweetness of the tomatoes. Cucumber, a relative of melon, brings both crunchiness and grassiness. Handfuls of basil and mint leaves and a drizzle of fresh lime juice, added just before serving, bring it all together. While perfectly satisfactory as a starter or side dish, you can add crumbled feta and call it lunch.
With so many mouth-watering summer veggies on display and a desire to buy and use as many as possible, I made a seasonal main course inspired by the sight of beautiful summer squash, tender corn, delicate turnips and fresh peas.
This quick, simple, and flavorful baking dish uses ginger, cumin, turmeric, chili, and garam masala. Substantial but light and reminiscent of certain kormas, it gets its rich, creamy consistency from a mixture of yogurt and almond flour. To accompany, a pot of plain, steamed basmati rice.
Feel free to substitute or add other vegetables, depending on what is available. Eggplants, green beans, small potatoes or okra would be welcome.
Finally, a traditional fruit crumble is a pleasant and unpretentious dessert. Nothing more than baked sweet fruit with a crumbly topping, it charms most diners. Blackberries alone make a wonderful crunch, but a combination of berries (equal parts raspberries, blueberries and blackberries) is just as good. Crispy doesn’t need to be served hot straight out of the oven; it’s delicious served at room temperature or just slightly warm.
You can serve it with a scoop of ice cream or a dab of whipped cream, but it’s worth making the optional cardamom-flavored custard sauce. (There’s also a touch of ground cardamom in the garnish.) The warm, musky spice is perfect with the berries – and that magical moment.
Receipts: Melon, cucumber and cherry tomato salad | Summer vegetables in a spicy yoghurt sauce | Blackberry Crumble with Cardamom Cream Sauce