Each season brings its excitement and pleasures in the kitchen and after the new season harvesting starts, we move toward a time of real abundance and variety. By June a new crop is starting every week, and there is a wealth of colourful, flavoursome veg to enjoy. Riverford founder and farmer, Guy Singh-Watson, talks us through one of summer’s seasonal stars:
Aubergines are one of my all-time favourites – a really versatile veg that is a sponge for all kinds of flavours. I just wish they grew better in our climate; we have tried, but without artificial heat (which we consider environmental madness) even under plastic or glass their season is vanishingly short. Almost our entire crop comes from Spain, for which I make no apology as they are never air freighted, have a lower carbon footprint and taste better than 99% of those grown in the UK.
Modern aubergines have been gradually bred to be less bitter so no need to salt before cooking unless you are frying them, when it’s a helpful first step to draw out water so the aubergine won’t absorb as much oil. A quick, easy way to cook them is to griddle them on a barbecue or cast iron gridle pan. Slice thinly, rub with olive oil and sea salt before cook for a few minutes each side over a moderate heat (nothing too fierce or they will blacken before they cook through) they should end up juicy, soft and nicely branded with charred lines. Sprinkle with garlic, oil, lemon zest and herbs (mint, parsley and basil all work well) or drizzle with tahini, pomegranate molasses and runny honey.