Although August is technically still summer (indeed the very essence of summer for anyone at school/with school age children) it always feels to me as though it is the beginning of the end of the glory days, the winding down of the sunshine and languorous evenings. To me, summer begins with asparagus season and ends with the woody stalks of samphire. The latter are starting to make their presence felt now, which saddens me. I would, and do, happily spend a small fortune on samphire for the six or so weeks every year that it is available. I love everything about it, the smell, taste, texture. It’s basically seaweed, but not slimy, and though salty not overpoweringly so.
Anyway, there is very little you can do cooking wise to samphire to improve upon it. Blanch it briefly (2-3 minutes is usually enough) and serve with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of black pepper. Heaven. The same cannot be said of courgettes. These mini-marrows always seem to promise more than they deliver and I find are best combined with oil, garlic and salt and cooked slowly over a low heat until they resemble courgette mush, or sliced paper thin and drizzled with french dressing and feta cheese. Or, as in the following recipe, chopped up very small and mixed with bread and cheese and baked. Anything, basically, to disguise their essential courgetteness.
Recipe from the River Cottage Baby & Toddler Cookbook
Makes about 12-16 polpette
Ingredients:2 tbps rapeseed/olive oil 500g courgettes, finely diced 1 egg, lightly beaten 2 tbsp Parmesan/Pecorino or similar hard cheese ½ ball buffalo Mozzarella (approx 60g), diced 1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 garlic clove finely chopped 50g breadcrumbs Freshly ground black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the courgettes over a medium to high heat for about 10 minutes, or until tender and golden.
Set aside for a few minutes to cool, then combine them in a bowl with the other ingredients (which you have of course prepped during the time the courgettes were cooking), to form a thick, sticky paste. I think mine was a little too wet (probably due to the size of the duck I egg I used).
Take walnut-sized (that would be walnuts in their shells) blobs of the mixture and roll them into balls. Or vaguely shape them into ball-like blobs in my case. Place them on a non-stick baking sheet (or one lined with non-stick/silicone paper) and bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until golden.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. Alternatively, eat them hot. Hugh recommends pita bread (which I have yet to get around to making – give me time!) and a tomato salad.