8 August recipes | olivemagazine

During blackberry picking season in the UK and most of Europe, it’s crucial to select the finest berries for your culinary adventures. Blackberries, known for their long, spiky brambles, grow wild in abundance. To ensure you’re picking the best, look for plump, dark blackberries, as these contain the sweetest juice. Also, ensure the berries you choose come away easily from the plant. Once you’ve gathered these prime blackberries, their versatile nature allows you to use them in various ways.

These sweet, slightly tart berries are perfect for making jams, jellies and baked goods, with their natural tartness easily balanced by sugar. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, consider exploring other avenues. You can try pickling them to create a unique accompaniment for cheeses or the duck recipe below. Blackberries offer a delightful contrast of flavours, making them a versatile addition to your repertoire.

Lemon blackberry cake

This light, summery bake combines tart blackberries and lemon with a hint of sweetness from icing sugar. It’s great with a drizzle of cream or ice cream, too.

Lemon and blackberry cake

Baked brie with pickled blackberries and thyme roasted nuts

This melting baked brie is an effortless starter for your next dinner party. It comes with home-pickled blackberries, toasted sourdough and roasted nuts.

A melting baked brie with blackberries on the side

Blackberry cheesecake blondies

This white chocolate blondie batter with a cheesecake ripple and homemade blackberry jam is the ultimate comfort pud.

Blackberry blondies cut into squares against a blue background

Blackberry baked oats

Make the most of tart, juicy blackberries in this easy oat bake that’s perfect for breakfast or dessert.

Blackberry baked oats in a tray

Blackberry muffins

Sweet but tart blackberries are in season in summer – put them to work in these cornbread muffins, which make a great brunch or mid-morning snack.

A broken muffin on a stoneware plate next to a fork and a muffin tin

Duck breast with blackberries and beetroot

These sweet berries grow all over the UK and are often used in jams and bakes. We love them paired with duck, though – their tart flavour really complements the rich meat.

A cast iron pan with two sliced duck breasts surrounded by blackberries and chopped beetroot

Tomatoes have a fascinating history. Originating in South and Central America, they were introduced to Europe by the Spanish during the 16th century. Since then, they’ve become an integral component of many European and Asian cuisines. If you find yourself with an abundance of homegrown tomatoes, consider making your own tomato passata, a perfect way to utilise any split, damaged or bruised fruits that might not make it to the table.

When it comes to storing tomatoes, it’s essential to keep their sweet, tangy flavours intact. Refrigeration can mute their flavours, so it’s best to store them at room temperature, especially if they’re not very ripe. If you must refrigerate them, make sure they return to room temperature for about 30 minutes before consuming to fully appreciate their delicious taste.

Grilled mango, tomato and burrata platter

A joyful, vibrant mix of heritage tomatoes, smooth burrata, grilled mango and a lime chilli dressing. Perfect for a sharing lunch, alfresco.

A mango and burrata salad on a white plate against a blue background

Watermelons are the epitome of summer, known for their juicy, crisp, sweet flesh, and refreshing flavour. These fruits are synonymous with the height of the season, offering a myriad of culinary possibilities. You can slice them into salads, enhance them with zesty chilli dressings, serve them on cocktail sticks paired with creamy feta, or transform them into refreshing sorbets and granitas that provide instant relief from the summer heat.

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However, choosing the perfect watermelon can be a bit of a challenge. Here’s a useful tip: when selecting one, give the thick rind a gentle tap. Listen for a dull sound and feel for a slight vibration. These indicators signal a ripe melon, thanks to its high water content.

Watermelon sorbet

The sweet, crisp flesh and refreshing flavour of watermelon makes this sorbet the perfect palate cleanser at summer dinner parties. It’s also a great base for watermelon margaritas – just add tequila.

A silver dessert cup filled with scoops of red sorbet on a white napkin

Crusted feta with rocket and watermelon salad

Fried, breadcrumbed feta with a juicy watermelon and rocket salad, finished with a chilli-honey dressing – it’s summer on a plate.

Baked feta surrounded by watermelon slices on a large platter

This leafy green veg brings a pop of colour to the table with its rainbow stems. Its flavour is similar to spinach, but with larger stems. Cook the stems for a few minutes before adding the leaves in one-pots such as curries and stews, or steam with the sliced stems at the bottom of the steamer with the greens laid on top, as they need a little more cooking.

Green beans are the young pods of the common bean – also known as French beans (haricot vert) – and have a sweet, mild flavour and tender texture. Simply steam and butter them for an easy side dish, or try finely chopping them and mixing with chillies, shallots and olive oil for a quick salsa for tacos or fish. Alternatively, char them on a hot griddle pan or barbecue before dunking in a romesco dip.

Green bean curry

This is a perfect main or part of a spread, adapted from Laxmi Khurana’s An Indian Housewife’s Recipe Book. You can use frozen beans, but use fresh while they’re at their best in the summer.

a metal pan containing green beans and tomato with a bowl of rice on a stone background

From ‘smashed’ cucumber salad, to tzatziki and Pimm’s cocktails, cucumbers are hugely versatile, with refreshing flavour and juicy texture. Try stir-frying with Sichuan pepper, bashing into chunky pieces to fold through a vinegary dressing, or thinly slicing to layer into soft cheese and chive sandwiches. Cucumber doesn’t last long once cut, so pickle slices if you won’t use it all, or fold into a raita, which will keep for several days.

Feta and cucumber salad with dill dressing

Ridged cucumbers have a stronger flavour than the regular variety, and firmer flesh, too. They stand up perfectly here to the olives and feta – a combo inspired by the flavours of Greek salad and tzatziki.

A white platter filled with ribboned cucumber, chopped black olives and crumbled feta on a stone background with a silver serving spoon

It’s not just for caprese salads and pizza – basil has a floral, aromatic scent that can transport you to sunnier climes with just one whiff. There are a few varieties of basil, including Greek, Thai, cinnamon, lemon, sweet and holy. Sweet basil is the most common in the UK, with its soft, delicate leaves, and its versatility makes it popular – blend it into pesto, tear into green salads or scatter over red fruit pavlovas. When cooked into sauces, it releases subtle flavour and aroma: try adding a handful to tomato sauce before simmering, rather than at the end.

Courgette, brown butter and basil gnocchi

Inspired by a piccata, this lemon and butter sauce is made even better with the addition of aromatic basil. It works well with pasta as well as gnocchi, and is just as great with ricotta instead of pecorino if you want to keep it vegetarian.

Two bowls of gnocchi on a table garnished with basil and grated cheese

Though gooseberries are typically served in sweet and/or creamy creations due to their tart flavour, they were historically served with fattier, savoury dishes. In France, they are especially enjoyed with mackerel.

Gooseberry jam

Effortless and quick, this recipe will put your bounty of gooseberries to delicious, sticky use. Add fresh ginger and vanilla bean for a mature flavour.

Gooseberry jam and granola on top of yogurt in a bowl

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