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Roasted summer vegetables

Roasted vegetables are great as a light lunch or dinner. Try roasted asparagus with basil and sea salt pesto, baby artichokes with feta dip and round courgettes with cherry tomato sauce.

Surely, they would be even greater, if grilled and consumed in a garden, by the lake or in a park. Unfortunately, that is not always possible. For instance, one might not have a garden, a lake or a grill. Unexpected rain can also disrupt an al fresco dinner. Another reason could be a group of wasps.

It was during my sailing holidays in Croatia. I have spend the entire day gutting fish, squid and octopus that I'd bought on a market, geatting ready for a BBQ evening. When we'd finally managed to find a picturesque little bay and tie up the boat, we realised there were countless wasps coming to our yacht and we had to run away. We ended up staying in a marina where barbecueing was not permitted and I had to make the squid and octopus in the oven.

What lesson can be learned from this story? Probably the fact that anything that you might want to barbecue, you can also make in the oven. It doesn't always work the other way around, but in this case it does - I have prepare these recipes for the oven, but you can make the vegetables on the grill too.

Recipe: Roasted asparagus with basil and sea salt pesto

Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • a bunch asparagus
  • one tsp. olive oil

Recipe: Basil and sea salt pesto

Ingredients
  • one cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
Method
  • Blend basil with olive oil.
  • Add salt, combine.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Trim asparagus' ends. Coat asparagus with olive oil.
  • Roast at 180C for about 20 minutes.
  • Serve with pesto.

Recipe: Roasted artichokes with sizzling feta dip

Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4-6 baby artichokes
  • one tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • one tsp lemon zest

Recipe: Sizzling feta dip

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
Method
  • Prepare a bowl with cold water with lemon juice. To prevent artichokes from discoloration, keep the cut ones in the bow before you're ready to roast them.
  • Cut the stalks off the artichoke. Pull off the tough leaves. Cut the artichoke in half. Spoon out the inner leaves and the fuzzy choke. Very young artichokes might not have the choke.
  • Combine oil and lemon juice, coast artichokes with the mixture. Place them in a baking dish and top with lemon zest.
  • Roast at 200C for aboit 25 mintes.
  • Combine feta with oil and lemon juice.
  • Place in a ramekin and bake with the artichokes for 20 minutes.

Recipe: Roasted round courgettes with roasted tomatoes sauce

Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 round courgettes
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • tsp olive oil

Recipe: Roasted tomatoes sauce

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • tsp brown sugar
  • a pinch of salt
Method
  • Cut the tomatoes in halves and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and sugar.
  • Roast at 150C for about 45 minutes.
  • Cool down and blend.
  • Cut the courgettes in halves and coat with oil. Place them in a baking dish and top with chili flakes.
  • Roast at 200C for about 35 minut.
  • Serve with tomato sauce.

Broad beans and asparagus salad

This asparagus and broad beans salad is extremely easy, takes very little time to prepare, but still is a truly satisfying Spring meal. It’s green, crispy and delicious. Makes a great quick lunch or a perfect addition to your picnic basket.

Recipe: Asparagus and broad beans salad

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • a bunch green asparagus
  • 1/2 cup broad beans, shelled and cooked, skins removed

Recipe: Lemon dressing with chili flakes

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
Method
  • Cut off the asparagus tips, cook them in boiling water with one tbsp of sugar for 3 minutes.
  • Using a vegetable peeler, hinly slice the asparagus lengthwise into strips. Cook them for 30 seconds.
  • Whisk the ingredients of the dressing together.
  • Combine broad beans and asparagus with the dressing.

Greek salad

What is the last time you had Greek salad? Personally, I have forgotten about it for a while, probably in an unconscious attempt to block out the memories of many bad Greek salads I was served in the 90's. There was always too much lettuce, well, it was mainly lettuce, cleverly covered up with a layer of diced tomatoes and cucumbers, bad olives and poor quality feta. The original version does not include lettuce and it's beauty comes from simplicity and great quality of ingredients. Use ripe heirloom tomatoes, good olives and authentic Greek feta and you no longer need to top everything with vinaigrette. The only adjustment I made was adding crushed chili instead or oregano.

Recipe: Greek salad

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • a handful of good, ripe tomatoes, you can use different types
  • 1/2 of cucumber
  • a handful of Greek olives
  • 1/3 of red onion
  • thick slice of Greek feta
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. of crushed chillies
Method
  • Cut tomatoes into slices or quarters, depending on their sizes. Slice cucumber and onion.
  • Arrange all the ingredients on a platter, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with chili.
  • You can serve it as a meal with grilled pita or as a side salad.

Warm tuna steak salad

This recipe falls into quick weeknight dinner that is not frozen pizza or Chinese takeaway category. All you have to do is to steam the vegetables, prepare dressing and pan-sear tuna steaks. It takes 15 minutes tops, but you can feel almost like a professional chef when serving dinner.

Recipe: Warm tuna steak salad

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • one cup of broad beans
  • one cup of snow peas
  • 2 tuna steaks
Method
  • Marinade tuna steaks for abou 30 minutes (it can be longer or a little shorter, if you don't have time).
  • Steam snow peas and broad beans for a few minutes, so that they soften, but are not overly cooked.
  • Combine dressing with peas and beans. Transfer vegetables into two plates.
  • Pan-sear tuna steaks for one or two minutes each side.
  • Slice the steaks and place on top of the vegetables. Top with freshly ground pepper.

Recipe: Marinade

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp. of olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • one tsp. of chopped parsley
Method
  • Combine the ingredients

Recipe: Lemon dressing

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp. of olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • one tsp. of chopped mint
  • one tsp. of chopped parsely
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Method
  • Whisk ingredients

Cucamelon Salsa

Cucamelons, also known as mouse melons, Mexican miniature watermelons or Mexican sour cucumbers, look like tiny watermalons (and you know that I love all things tiny, see: baby eggplants) and taste like cucumbers with a hint of lime. In spite of appearances, they have not been created by a crazy gardener - cucamelons are native to Mexico and Central America. Oh, and they are also delicious!

Recipe: Cucamelon Salsa

Ingredients
  • 300 g of cucamelons, cut in halves
  • 50 g of feta, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp. of chopped Thai basil
  • 1/2 tsp. of chili flakes
  • juice of 1/2 lime
Method
  • Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
  • Set aside for at least half an hour.
  • Serve with toasted bread.
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