The Tastes of Summer on Your Plate
Southern Europe is celebrated for its weather, which produces much of the continent’s summertime fruits and vegetables.
Summer beckons us to slow down and enjoy its generosity, from the abundant sunshine to market stalls brimming with colourful produce. Now is the time to enjoy farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably outdoors! Lunch on the terrace, a picnic under shade trees, a leisurely dinner with family and friends that begins at twilight and continues for hours... Let us inspire you with some ideas for making the most of summer’s bounty and longer days.
The kitchen moves outdoors
Summertime is when we can tap into our primeval instincts by playing with fire and cooking out in the open. Kick off barbecue season by grilling choice cuts of beef, chicken or fish. A simple marinade of olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs keeps the meat moist and tender while adding bright notes.
If you've decided to eat more sustainably, then summer is the ideal time to start. Marinate thick slabs of aubergine and courgette, then grill them until the exterior is golden brown and the interior is cooked through. End the meal with a cheese board and a platter of grilled summer fruits. Charring transforms the sweetness of stone fruits, cantaloupes and even watermelons into something magical.
The perfect picnic
After a nature hike or a dip in the ocean or lake, there’s nothing better than a meal in the great outdoors. The best picnics are portable, but also simple and fresh.
Start by visiting the nearest farmers' market. Do the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers look especially inviting? Make a batch of gazpacho and keep it cold in a thermos, or throw together a quick pasta salad with vinaigrette dressing. Another travel-friendly salad is the niçoise, made with bright green beans and fingerling potatoes. To complement the meal, pick up some hearty bread, dry-cured sausage and a bottle of local wine. And for dessert? Juicy sun-ripened fruits, of course!
Preserving summer in a jar
When the weather grows cold again, relive warmer days by opening up a jar of summer. Southern Europeans have long preserved the season’s profusion of fresh yet fragile fruits at their peak. A speciality in this region is a blend called fruits rouges in French, frutos rojos in Spanish and frutti di bosco (forest fruits) in Italian. The usual recipe includes some combination of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, mulberries, red or black currants, cherries and lingonberries.
Another favourite in the Mediterranean is fig jam. Come late August, fill your bucket or market basket with this luscious summer fruit and put up some jars for winter. Its deep flavours pair wonderfully with soft cheeses and cured meats, making it the quintessential accompaniment for a charcuterie board or gourmet brunch.
Summer passes all too quickly. Make the most of it by preparing and savouring seasonal fruits and vegetables!
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