Summer dining conjures up visions of colourful crisp salads, succulent fruits and delicious grilled meat and fish. And a Mediterranean diet provides a feel-good factor like no other, with plenty of colour and a much-needed wellbeing boost after the winter months, particularly if eaten al-fresco in the warm summer sun – with friends and family.
A diet including fresh fruit and vegetables has numerous health benefits, with produce providing a rich source of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants. Choosing seasonal fruit and vegetables from Italy and other EU countries, means choosing the very highest European standards of freshness, food safety, quality, and respect for the environment.
So, if you’re looking to add a touch of colour to your summer menu, look no further than I Love Fruit & Veg from Europe’s range of new and inventive and nutritious summer recipes that showcase the very best seasonal produce (www.ilovefruitandvegfromeurope.co.uk
SALMON, RICE & BLOOD ORANGE MEDLEY
Prep: 15 minutes. Cook: 15 minutes. Serves 4
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 4 salmon fillets (500g)
- 250g asparagus, trimmed and cut into 4 cm pieces
- 4 blood oranges
- 2 x 250g pouches wholegrain basmati & wild rice
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
Heat the sesame oil in a large frying pan and fry the salmon, flesh side down for 5 minutes, turn over and add the asparagus to the pan and fry for a further 5 minutes until the salmon is just cooked through.
Meanwhile, cut off the skin and pith from the oranges and remove the segments over a bowl to catch any juices. Remove the salmon from the pan and then add the rice to the pan with the orange segments and juice with the oil, heat for 1-2 minutes.
Break the salmon into chunks and add to rice with the parsley. Season to taste then serve.
Out of season, replace the asparagus with broccoli.
CHICKEN AND ASPARAGUS PICCATA
Prep time: 30 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes. Serves 4
- 2 bunches medium sized asparagus
- 650g boneless skinless chicken breasts (4)
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2-3 teaspoons capers, drained and rinsed
- 350ml dry white wine
- Zest of 1 lemon (plus extra lemon, cut into slices for garnish)
- 250ml chicken stock
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 150ml whipping or single cream
- Pack of fresh basil leaves
Slice off the ends of the asparagus spears; and then using a vegetable peeler, scrape gently a small amount of the skin from the larger parts of the stems. Don’t peel away too much of the asparagus, just a few thin shavings evenly around the larger end of the spears. Discard peelings.
Score the chicken breasts on both sides then gently pound, ideally with a rolling pin, until d slightly and form a somewhat even thickness. Season to taste on both sides, then toss in the flour.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy frying pan, then add the chicken breasts, cooking until golden on both sides. Add the capers while the chicken breasts are cooking and continue until the chicken is almost cooked through.
Once chicken is removed from the pan, add the white wine and lemon zest, and cook over medium heat until mixture is reduced by about half. Add the chicken stock and cook together, stirring until liquid has evaporated by about half and intensified in flavour.
Add the lemon juice, return chicken breasts to the pan, top with the asparagus spears, place a lid on top and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, or until the chicken and asparagus is cooked through.
Remove chicken and asparagus to serving platter. Add cream to the pan, and cook together until it forms a rich creamy sauce, a minute or two. Season to taste then pour over the chicken and asparagus and garnish with the lemon slices and basil.
Serve straight away.
Cooks Tip: Why not try the lemony sauce and asparagus with pan roasted cod instead of chicken? Cook the cod as for the chicken, but the cod will only need a few minutes to cook.
ROASTED ASPARAGUS ALLA PIZZAIOLA
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 – 30 minutes. Serves 4
- 400g asparagus spears
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
- Pinch dry oregano
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato purée
- 1 x 227g can chopped tomatoes
- 250g drained Mozzarella, torn into pieces
- 1 x 25g pack basil, leaves torn into pieces
- 50g Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano DOP
Preheat oven to 220C, gas mark 7
Cut the spears in half, toss in half the olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet for roasting.
Add the tomatoes to the asparagus. Season to taste, sprinkle with oregano, and roast together for 15 minutes or until golden brown but still holding onto their shape.
Toss in the garlic, tomato purée, canned tomatoes, then top with the Mozzarella, basil, and a generous sprinkle of Parmigiana. Drizzle with remaining olive oil.
Return to the oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and in places has turned golden.
Remove and serve immediately.
Serve the roasted asparagus and tomatoes (before adding the mozzarella and tomato sauce) at room temperature, as a salad or starter.
SESAME SEARED TUNA ON A BED OF ROCKET
Prep time: About 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 -3 minutes
Assembly time: 5-10 minutes
- 200g (as thick as possible) yellowfin tuna, line caught, wild, sustainably sourced
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 100g rocket leaves
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste
- Medium to large pinch powdered ginger
- 2 teaspoons Japanese rice vinegar, or to taste
- 1-2 teaspoons soy sauce
Dry the tuna steaks, then season to taste, rub with half the sesame oil, and sprinkle on both sides with half the sesame seeds. Store in the fridge while you prepare the salad.
Mix spring onions with rocket leaves, then mix the dressing: the remaining sesame oil, sesame seeds, sugar, olive oil, ginger, vinegar and soy sauce. Set aside.
Then sear the tuna. Heat a heavy pan fairly hot, or until smoking. If its nonstick there is no need to use oil, but if not, use a tiny bit so that the fish doesn’t stick.
Place the fish onto the hot pan and cook over high heat for 1 minute on each side (top and bottom; if it’s quite thick, you can sear the sides a bit as well). Do not be tempted to overcook; it’s the tenderness of being halfway between cooked and raw that is so delicious and has such a wonderful mouthfeel.
Remove from pan and leave to stand for a few minutes. Slice fairly thinly, about 2 mm across the grain. Place the warm tuna slices on top of the rocket and spring onions, then dress with the reserved dressing. Eat warm.
Replace the tuna with fresh salmon steaks.