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.
Ottolenghi recently wrote an article for the New Yorker called Ottolenghi’s Simplest Recipes. It’s a funny, tongue in cheek article about his recipes and the way that people complain about the complexity and number of ingredients. And about the way that they change all the ingredients and then make commentary on them.
I am certainly guilty of the first, and have gotten over the second – mostly. I still sigh if I have to go shopping for a dish when I want to make it right now and there is some ingredient my pantry is not stocking atm. Having cooked a significant number of Ottolenghi’s dishes, I have moved on from strict adherence to his dishes to shaking them up to suit what is cheaper in our part of the world, what is in the pantry or fridge or on the kitchen bench, and what I can pick from the garden.
This recipe had its genesis in Ottolenghi’s first book Ottolenghi. But it is not recognisable as his any more. I’ve removed the non-vegetarian item, and used greens from our garden rather than the expensive (in my area) greens that he uses. I am ticking the recipe off in the book, but really only the dressing (fabulous) and the peaches are recognisable in the original. If you are looking for the original, check his books or his Guardian column.
The key here is to use sweet peaches (yellow-fleshed or a mix of yellow and white) that are at their peak, with none of that floury texture that they can have when unripe. It’s a dish that’s dazzling in its blend of colours and textures, and works well as a starter.
This is a recipe that epitomises the height of Summer in Australia. Beautiful sun ripened stone fruits, grilled on an Aussie BBQ, and drizzled with a sweet scented yoghurt. It really is the best of recipes for this time, perfect perhaps for an Australia Day BBQ.
It is an Ottolenghi recipe, from his beautiful Plenty More book. We’ve cooked most of the recipes from this book, and have loved them all. In this recipe, Ottolenghi uses Lemon Geranium Water – a Tunisian ingredient that is more difficult to find locally. Orange Blossom Water is a good substitute (as is any other floral water).
We feel free to make substitutes in Ottolenghi’s recipes. See notes below the recipe about the fruit combination that we used. We are lucky enough to have lavender growing in our garden, but if it is not available to you, please omit it. I’ve also used Tulsi and mint leaves today, as sweet basil was not available. Mint is a really nice substitute.
We have a wild peach tree in the back yard, one that was here in the jungle in the furthest corner of the yard. It is only this year after clearing some of the wildness there that I took notice of it. It produces small, yellow-green fruit with a blush. They are cling-stone, sadly, and a tiny bit less sweet than the commonly available peaches. But it turns out that they are quite suitable for eating and cooking. Our first dish from them is a chutney relish made with barberries and lemon juice to add tartness.
Aromatic sweet laurel bay leaves bring out the warm taste in this sweet and spicy chutney. The pungent, lemony spicy undertones of ginger add another layer flavour.
Through Spring, Summer and Autumn we regularly make and drink juices as part of our morning routine. We are lucky enough to have 2 orange trees which fruit at different times, so we have fresh oranges from late Autumn one year through Winter, then Summer, to early Autumn the next year. That is, unless we eat them so quickly there are none left on the tree. Oranges pair well with other fruit and vegetables like Summer stone fruits, apples, other citrus and beetroot. Try our delicious combos listed below.
Think outside the box for Breakfast, especially in Summer.
Prepare your breakfast dishes, make a large pot of coffee, set the table on the verandah, deck, or under the grapevines, take the newspaper or a book, and enjoy a leisurely Summer breakfast.
Let’s celebrate Summer with its perfect stone fruits – and Peaches reign supreme during the Summer months. This is a quick and easy salsa with peaches. It can be used in any way you like, but here we have paired it with marinated tofu. The tofu is definitely optional – for example the salsa would go well with haloumi, or in lovely little lettuce cups. It would make a light lunch with some Middle Eastern flatbread. Chunks of watermelon, slightly salted, with the Peach Salsa on the side.
Tofu has a wonderful ability to absorb flavours and marinating it is such a pleasurable way to turn blandness into flavourful nuggets.
You know what? In hot weather I love a lassi, particularly a fruit lassi, for breakfast. Indian in origin, fruit lassi drinks mix yoghurt with fruit, spices and jaggery or sugar.
Today, there were peaches on the kitchen bench, strawberries in the fridge and basil in the garden. A beautiful breakfast was born in the shape of a lassi.
This salad will change your mind about using watermelon in savoury ways
Goodness, how good watermelon is in the Summer. But we rarely use it in a savoury way. Rather, the mind brings images of slurping great arcs of watermelon at the beach, the juice running down your chin and arms.
But watermelon accepts acidic ingredients very well – limes, lemons, salt etc. And therefore making salads with it for those 45C days of Australian Summers is a perfect solution to the heat. Along with a Gin and Tonic, of course.
We have a collection of Watermelon Salads for you to explore – we brought together all our favourite salads in one post.
You might also like to try Watermelon and Feta Salad, Watermelon Salad with Mint and Olives, Spicy Red Radish and Watermelon Salad, Haloumi and Watermelon Salad, or Tomato and Peach Salad. Or try your hand at Strawberry Sorbet.