With the glorious weather that has finally arrived everyone is suddenly out having picnics and BBQs and making the most of the lovely sunshine.
The change in seasons has inspired me to bring out all the recipes and dishes that we enjoyed last year but had been put to rest over the long, cold winter.
The food I've been cooking is all quite summery and is great for BBQs and picnics as well as everyday family meals at home cooked in the kitchen. We're entertaining friends tomorrow for the first BBQ of the year- since they only eat fish and vegetarian food I've devised a range of dishes that are great for adults and kids but no meat at all. If we have friends over that have different dietary requirements I like everyone to eat the same since I don't want the guest to feel they are "different" and I can usually create something that keeps everyone happy and noone feels like they are missing out on their "normal" food.
So a lovely easy recipe now that really just sums up summer- roasted garlic tomatoes. This is a fairly easy recipe but just takes some time and patience.
First get about 12 good sized tomatoes- now these need to be peeled but this is not as fiddly as it sounds- first rinse them and then cut a small cross at the bottom of each tomato.
Then put all the tomatoes in a heat-proof dish and pour over boiling water and leave to stand for a couple of minutes.
Then rinse in cold water and each tomato should be starting to burst from its skin
Simply peel off the skin and then cut each in half (from the stalk downwards) and lay cut side up in a greased baking dish. Scatter around 2-3 chopped cloves of garlic and dribble olive oil over each tomato. Put a basil leaf (or part of a leaf if they are quite big) and on each and rub into the oil on both sides so that both sides of the leaf are covered in oil. Season well.
Put at the top of a 200 degree C oven for around 50-60 minutes until they are blackening around the side.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Then move to an airtight container and drizzle over 2 tbsp of both balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Scatter over pitted black and season well.
It tastes even better if left for a day or so to soak in the juices. It is great to use this recipe at the end of summer to use up any glut of tomatoes you have grown. The roasting really brings out the flavour of tomatoes and to me this is the taste of summer. This is delicious served on its own with lots of crusty bread to mop up the juices. Or as a side dish at a BBQ or picnic. If you had a lot of tomatoes you could also use this as a base of a lovely pasta sauce- blitz up the finished product for a really intense tomato sauce.
It makes a lovely easy starter that you can prepare in advance (which is always a plus for me when entertaining- I don't want to be stuck in the kitchen once my guests arrive!)
If you were serving it as a starter it would work really well to be followed by another family favourite that is lovely in the summer- slow roast chicken with orange, garlic and thyme.
Use 2-3 pieces of chicken (dark is much better- drumsticks, legs, thighs) with bone in and skin on. Take a large casserolle dish and heat 1-2 tbsp oil and brown the chicken on all sides. Chuck in a couple of onions that have been peeled and cut into wedges and turn to coat in oil and a whole bulb of garlic, separated into cloves and peeled (put the cloves in the microwave for 15 seconds to make them easy to pop out of their skin). Add whatever vegetables you fancy- celery, peppers, small new potatoes and a good bunch of thyme. Give it a good stir and then add 400g of beans- for example, cannellini, black eyed beans that you have rinsed. Pour over 400ml white wine and then add two oranges cut into quarters- squeeze them into the pan before throwing the whole thing in- skin and all. Bake at about 170 degrees C for an hour and a half. Serve over lots of basmati rice to soak up the juices. So easy and completely delicious.
Not the prettiest dish in the world but the flavour is just amazing! Lots more summery recipes coming this way over the next week.