Hello Summer

Healthy and refreshing, cooked or raw, vegetables have a certain primacy over a summer table. Here are four recipes that max out on flavour with minimal effort.

Quinoa Salad with Kale, Apple and Asparagus (Above)
Serves 6

1 cup quinoa
2 cups hot water or vegetable stock
2T olive oil
2 cups apples, cut into cubes or sections (skin on)
2 cups kale
1 cup sliced celery
1/3 cup dried cranberries or raisins
2T chopped parsley
1/3 cup toasted walnuts or pine nuts
1/4 cup lemon juice
2T honey
a bunch green asparagus mint leaves

1. Cook the quinoa in hot water, adding a spoonful of olive oil. Place the cooked quinoa in a large bowl and allow to cool.
2. Add the apple, kale, asparagus, celery, raisins or cranberries, parsley and nuts.
3. In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice, 1T olive oil, honey, and salt and pepper. Add mint leaves. Pour the mixture over the salad and stir through.
Cook’s note To cook the quinoa use 3 parts water to 1 cup quinoa. To remove the saponin, a chemical that coats the grain, rinse the grain with cold water prior to cooking.

Summer Salad with Grilled Chicken
Serves 6

12 to 15 fresh peas in pods, blanched and halved
150g fine beans, blanched
4 baby cucumbers, quartered lengthwise
3 free-range chicken-breast fillets sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g mixed leaves
1 handful watercress
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1. In a large bowl or on a platter, toss together the peas, green beans and cucumber.
2. Pan-fry the chicken breasts until cooked, about 6 minutes per side. Season.
3. Once cooked, cut the chicken into slices and add to the greens. Dress to taste with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Cook’s note Before cooking the chicken breasts in a griddle pan, place between two sheets of greaseproof paper and pound with a meat mallet to break down the fibres. This way, they will be much more succulent. Give the chicken a distinct taste by sprinkling over a spoonful of paprika just before frying.

Poached Eggs on a Bed of Asparagus and Beans
Serves 6

handful asparagus
15 fresh broad beans, podded
2T butter
1T olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped juice of
1 lemon
1 egg
1T pumpkin seeds, toasted

1. Cook the asparagus and the beans for a few minutes, then transfer to a bowl of iced water.
2. In a pan, heat the butter and oil. Add the garlic, sauté for a minute, then add the cooked asparagus and beans and the juice of a lemon. Warm through.
3. Serve with a poached egg and toasted pumpkin seeds.
Cook’s note To poach the egg, the water does not need to boil. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to the water and stir to create a gentle whirlpool, before adding the egg. The vinegar helps the proteins in the egg whites coagulate.

Stuffed Aubergines with Bulgur Wheat and Greek Yoghurt
Serves 6

3 medium aubergines
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1T cumin
1 cup bulgur wheat
1 diced onion
1 garlic clove, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lime
handful mint
1 chive, sliced
handful coriander
1 cup Greek yoghurt
1/4 cup almond flakes, toasted
1 pomegranate

1. Preheat the oven to 220 C. Coat the aubergines with olive oil using a brush, place in a pan, cover with foil and roast for 20 minutes, or until soft to the touch. Cut the aubergines in half and scoop out the flesh. Season with salt, pepper and cumin.
2. Pour 2 cups boiling water over the bulgur wheat, cover and set aside for 30 minutes, by which stage the bulgur should have absorbed all the water. Separate the grains with a fork and set aside.
3. In a pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and saute the onion and garlic until soft, remove from heat, then add the flesh of the aubergine.
4. Mix together the bulgur, aubergine flesh, lemon juice, lime juice, chopped mint, sliced chive and coriander.
5. Fill the aubergine skins and bake for about 10 minutes.
Cook’s note To serve, dress the aubergines with Greek yoghurt mixed with mint, freshly toasted almond flakes and pomegranate.

Photography and recipes Marta Munoz-Calero Caldero