The full bounty of summer arrives this month! I’ve been enjoying getting sticky juices on my fingers and sitting outside in the sunshine eating brightly coloured fruits to match the glorious warm days.

My happy eating selection for July includes apricots, raspberries, cherry tomatoes, Mara seaweed flakes and the lovely citrussy spice, sumac.

 

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What I’m eating seasonally (and joyfully) in July…

 

1. Apricots

Joyful Eating July

My first bite into a tangy, slightly tart, golden apricot earlier in the week was a little bit of heaven. I’d actually forgotten how much I used to love them when I was little. They were something that grew with wild abandon in Australia. I particularly loved big chunky spoonfuls of apricot jam on generously buttered bread. It was just SO comforting.

Cutting apricots open is like shining an instant ray of sunshine into the kitchen. I’ll admit to a very big smile on Monday when I sliced them up on my morning porridge and sprinkled over a little black pepper. They pack a big flavour punch for a little guy, so a few apricots go a long way.

 

This goes with that

As with most stone fruit, apricots are delicious with anything creamy: natural Greek yoghurt, goat’s cheese, ricotta or a dollop of double cream. One less usual pairing is something herby. You can sprinkle dried oregano or shredded fresh basil or mint over uncooked fruit. Or lightly roast up these golden beauties with a touch of honey and rosemary.

Apricots are a lovely addition to a green summer salad, topped with a little creamy feta and a handful of pumpkin seeds. Oh, and I like a sprinkle of something spicy on top every now and then (chilli flakes and black pepper are two spicy suggestions).

 

2. Raspberries

Joyful Eating July

I’m rather excited as I’ve already had a couple of handfuls of raspberries from the bushes this season. Last year I had about two raspberries in total, so this is something of a major garden event for me. And to add even more to my raspberry delight, I’ve also discovered a massive patch of raspberry bushes in woods near my house, so I can top up from there where I run out at home.

I love the sour tartness of raspberries, though the sweetness does develop as we progress into August with the later varieties. I also love the soft furry squishiness of raspberries that make them delicate to handle and so poppable in the mouth.

 

This goes with that 

Many of the matches for apricots also work for raspberries and they are another pretty addition to salads. I also love them dipped in dark chocolate. Choose Madagascan chocolate with red berry notes if you can, as this is a great match for raspberries. And for an extra chocolatey hit you could sprinkle the chocolate with cacao nibs before it sets.

As raspberries are naturally a little tart, you can temper this with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. Add a sprinkle of toasted almond flakes for some crunch. If you want to go a bit more out there, try some seaweed flakes. I recommend Mara seaweed’s Shony flakes (see below) as they are naturally sweet.

Check out my strawberry matches from last month as these are also good partners for raspberries.

 

3. Cherry Tomatoes

Joyful Eating July

There is such a difference between out of season tomatoes and the rich, pungent cherry ones of the summer. They are even more tasty if you grow them and pick your own. It’s like picking herbs fresh, as you end up with the aroma of the leaves and the tomatoes over your fingers.

If you’ve never grown anything before, cherry tomatoes are a great place to start. They’re really easy to grow and you can grown them in pots, either on a sunny window sill or outside once it’s warm. There are loads of different varieties that you can grow too, many that you’ll never see for sale in the shops (including the unusual black cherry tomatoes).

Tomatoes are best eaten at room temperature to make the most of their flavour. Once they are ripe you can store them in the fridge so they last longer, but take them out of the fridge for a little while to let them warm up for eating.

 

This goes with that

Tomatoes have some classic flavour pairings and there’s good reason as they are delicious! Good quality extra virgin olive oil, a little sea salt, mozzarella, balsamic vinegar and basil are all beautiful flavour partners.

Tomato has a natural umami flavour which goes well with other umami ingredients such as parmesan, seaweed and soy sauce. Lighter flavoured nuts and seeds are also a good topping, including almonds, pumpkin seeds and pine nuts. I’m also partial to some cacao nibs, which I think taste lovely with most sweeter vegetables – even though, of course, tomatoes are actually a fruit.

 

4. Mara seaweed flakes

Joyful Eating July

Seaweed flakes are one of my secret kitchen weapons – and Mara seaweed flakes in particular. These lovely flakes are a fantastic seasoning and can be used in place of salt. I have a set of 3 and each has a slightly different flavour, from smoked to sweet. I just add a little sprinkle here and there when I want to add a subtle change to my dishes (and don’t worry, it doesn’t end up tasting like seawater!).

Mara wild-harvest their seaweed so that it’s a sustainable and sensitive way of harvesting from the sea. They even have a special license from the Crown Estate to harvest seaweed in Fife. The seaweed is picked and processed within 24 hours to lock in the flavour and nutrients.

 

This goes with that

Any time you can use salt as seasoning, you can use seaweed. I love it sprinkled over tomatoes, as I suggested above, or mixed in with a lemon olive oil salad dressing. And if you’re looking to lift a dish of plain pasta, a good shake of the smoky flakes should do it.

I’m particularly partial to seaweed on eggs and often shake a generous amount over scrambled eggs. The sweet Shony flakes are also good in porridge (just a little) and baked into buttery shortbread. And the most surprising combination? Well a touch of Shony flakes on smooth dark chocolate is delicious!

 

5. Sumac

Joyful Eating July

Sumac is always a bit of a surprise flavour for people when I bring it along to my workshops. This Middle Eastern spice has a light lemony citrus flavour that is mellow enough to work in lots of dishes. Sumac is actually a dried red berry, but it’s really used like a spice rather than fruit. You are most likely to taste it in tagines.

Despite the rich colour, it’s not a spice that overpowers so you can be fairly generous with how much you add to dishes. Though as with all flavouring, it’s best to start small and layer up until it tastes just right for your palate. It’s an instant way to add a subtle shade of red to your dishes. And remember to breathe deep to inhale its lovely aromas!

 

This goes with that

Sumac is incredibly versatile; I sprinkle it over roasted veg, into salads and through cooked quinoa (or couscous). It’s also a good seasoning for fish. Oh, and in any Middle Eastern food really (a dusting over houmous is just one option).

On the sweeter side of things, it’s tasty mixed into Greek yoghurt and spooned over stone fruit. And it’s another surprising hit with chocolate, but I’d go for a dark chocolate with naturally citrussy or tropical overtones (Pump St 72% Madagascan chocolate works particularly well).

 

What are you eating joyfully this month?

 

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