Plantains are delicious, a variety of banana that is eaten while green. India uses them a lot, far more than Western cuisines which tend to ignore them completely. Enjoy these spicy dishes and snacks.
From the moment that pineapple hits the shops in late Spring or Summer, it is a regular feature in our kitchen. Salads of course, or just wedges to suck at. But then there are curries, grilled when BBQing, and endless cooling juices.
Persimmons are so divine, and a beautiful, Autumnal colour. We don’t use them much, preferring to eat them just as they are. But I have one recipe for you – look at that colour!
Peas have been part our diet for hundreds of years and are used all over the world. Strictly speaking, green peas are not vegetables. They are part of the legume family, which consists of plants that produce pods with seeds inside. Lentils, chickpeas, beans and peanuts are also legumes. There are many varieties of peas, but here we are focusing on the humble, oft overlooked Green Pea.
Pears are as ubiquitous in Autumn and Winter as stone fruits are in Summer. They are my afternoon snack in these months, and my preference is the brown beurre bosc. The yellow pears of my childhood are no longer the same – mushy when ripe instead of gorgeously juicy with a touch of crispness. I do miss them. But there is now a wide variety of pears from which to choose – red, green, yellow, and brown. Nachi, William Bartlett, Packam, Corella, Anjou, Asian and more.
Summer means Peaches, the loved stone fruit above all others. The gentleness of the white peach and the juiciness of the yellow peach. The joy of eating them as they are! They are suitable not only for sweet temptations but also for salads, salsas, chutneys and drinks.
Purslane, Portulaca Oleracea, is an edible succulent plant that spreads vigorously. The leaves are crunchy with a tangy lemon-peppery flavour. It pops up in gardens here from December (early Summer) through to Autumn. It is prolific in my garden, so much so that I can pull the whole plants out when young, nip off the root and use the stem and leaves. For larger plants, stems are picked and leaves removed. You should always wash it really well as it is such a ground-hugging plant.
Pick them early in the day for best flavours. If I need to pick them later in the day, I will cover them in water for an hour or so until they perk up and lift their heads. Don’t soak any longer, they turn to mush (being a succulent).
In some parts of the world you can buy Purslane in green groceries but in Australia that is not the case. So you can forage alongside footpaths and in parks and green areas, but always be careful that it has not been sprayed. The best way is to purchase some seed, or gather it from flowering foraged plants, and grow in your own garden. Once you have planted it in your garden you will always have it. It grows best in warm to hot, dry climates.
It is used around the world, from Greece to Mexico, South Africa, India and Turkey. It is a nutritional medicine cabinet in a plant with remarkable amounts of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. It is mainly used raw but is also cooked in some places, such as India.
We’ve put together some of our favourite salads using Purslane to inspire you. Be sure to let us know how you use it and which salads are your favourite. Don’t forget that you can use Purslane to replace other sour or lemony ingredients such as sorrel in salads and other dishes.
I adore pawpaw in the tropics – pawpaw for breakfast is divine. But here, we don’t indulge so much.
Green Mangoes are a real gift, and available from Asian groceries almost year round. It is amazing to track the different varieties across the year, many of them unlabelled. In the market today, one variety was labelled Crunchy Green Mango. I loved the images that it conjured up.
Green mangoes are refreshing and tart. Some are sour-tart, and others are sweet-tart. They are particularly good in salads and surprisingly good in dals and with yoghurt sauces. I have included a particularly delicious drink in this collection – one where the green mango is roasted or boiled then mashed with spices to make a cooling and refreshing summer drink.
Passionfruit. Sigh. My granddaughter takes after me and loves them. She will eat them straight from the shell.