Tag Archives: Seasonal vegetables


Especially in summer, I like to prepare a number of small courses and always made with in season ingredients.

These were recent meals:

Feature Photo fried zucchini with roasted garlic.

Roasted baby tomatoes – very fragrant.


Whole figs stuffed with walnuts and feta and topped with a sprig of mint – then the figs are cut in half.


This was  followed by roasted summer vegetables (zucchini, eggplants, peppers, onion, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and rosemary) and topped with a layer of fresh breadcrumbs and a little grated Parmigiano added in the last 5-7 minutes of baking).  This dish is eaten cold.


The roasted vegetable course was followed by a salad of lightly poached green prawns mixed with watercress, fresh peaches and a light dressing of homemade egg mayonnaise, a dash of fresh cream,  pepper and fresh, French tarragon.

Dessert is always simple in summer. I have an ice cream machine and this comes in handy.  Another constant old favourite is Zuppa Inglese; it is always appreciated especially if in summer it is topped with berries lightly marinaded with some Alchermes.


Another simple dessert that I enjoy making is a Cour a la creme (cream cheese, crème fraîche). I bought two of these heart shaped, ceramic moulds in San Francisco. I top the heart (s) with fresh berries or fresh figs . Unfortunately I have not snapped a photo of this dessert.


The last Cour  a la creme I made was with drained yogurt (Labneh) mixed with a little honey and topped with slices of mango.

500 ml full-fat Greek-style yoghurt

Line a colander with one layer of muslin and place the colander on top of a bowl so that the whey of the yogurt can drain off naturally. Leave the yoghurt to drain about 8 hours or longer. I usually place mine (covered) to drain in the fridge.
See  Watermelon, Labneh and Dukkah salad

Poaching liquid for green prawns:

There must be sufficient liquid to cover the shelled green prawns.

Combine these ingredients to make a poaching liquid: a mixture of water, wine (more water 2/3 than wine 1/3), a few peppercorns, a little salt, fresh bay leaves, soft fresh celery leaves and fresh herbs  – usually thyme.

Bring the poaching liquid to below boiling and simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, and let the ingredients infuse for at least 20 minutes.

Bring  the poaching liquid to the boil, add the green prawns and make sure that they are covered by the liquid. Wait for a few minutes until the temperature of the poaching liquid is just below boiling. Turn off the the heat and leave the prawns to steep until they will change colour (to coral- orange) and are no longer translucent – this happens within minutes.

Drain the prawns and cool the quickly – I spread them out on a cold surface. Use the poaching liquid (stock) for another fish based dish (for example a risotto) or to poach your next batch of prawns or fish. Keep this stock in the freezer till you are ready to use it again.

Dress with one of your favourite dressings. How about ZOGGHIU (Sicilian pesto/dressing made with garlic, parsley and mint)..also good with grilled fish or squid.



Long Live Zuppa Inglese

Zuppa Inglese, A Famous, Italian Dessert

Alchermes/Alkermes (the Liqueur Used to Make Zuppa Inglese)


I love eating vegetables and a meal without them is unimaginable. The photos in this post are of some of the produce I bought last Saturday at my regular vendors stall in The Queen Victoria Market. I did not bother to put in potatoes, celery, carrots, herbs and the other fruit that I bought – I wanted to show in the photos the seasonal produce I am buying now and very much enjoying.

Vegetables have always been an important part of the Italian diet. There may be several reasons for this and without going into too much detail, Here are a few of them.

Culturally Italians have cooked vegetables in interesting ways: braise, grill, fry, boil and dress, roast, etc. whereas Anglo-Australians tended to primarily boil, steam, roast.

Historically Italians have cultivated and eaten a large variety of vegetables. The following vegetables are relatively new in Australia: fennel, chicory, broccoli, zucchini, eggplants, peppers, leafy vegetables for salads e.g. radicchio, romaine lettuce.  When I arrived in Australia the only common vegetables were cauliflowers, cabbages, carrots, pumpkins, peas and string beans.

Italians are very health-conscious. The Romans learned a great deal from the Ancient Greeks. Illnesses and other health problems were treated with herbal remedies and there was an interest with what one ate and when, the combination of foods and its effects on the body. This interest has continued and Italians are still very particular about their health especially the digestive system.

Economically vegetables are cheaper to grow than meat, which means they are also cheaper to buy and many Italians in years gone by could not afford to eat large quantities of meat; although fish was cheaper, some could still not afford to eat fish, either. Australia is said to ‘have ridden on the sheep’s back’ by the late 1830’s there were sheep in every colony and raising and eating meat is embedded in the Australian culinary culture.

Increasingly, ethical dilemmas and health concerns have caused many people to become vegetarians and I have many friends who are. I have had many conversations with people who are making an effort to eat less and less meat and I too, seem to be cooking meat less frequently – not that we have ever eaten very much meat in my house.

For a variety of reasons and perhaps coincidence being vegetarian is also getting some attention in the media and at events. As part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, I attended an event at the Melbourne Town Hall where six speakers debated the topic Animals Should Be Off the Menu. For the proposition:  Peter Singer, Philip Wollen, Veronica Ridge. Against the proposition: Adrian Richardson, Fiona Chambers, Bruce McGregor. Those who attended were able to vote to decide the outcome of the debate and perhaps not surprisingly, the side arguing that animals should be off the menu, clearly won.

IQ2 Debate: Animals Should be Off the Menu:


A few weeks after the debate Richard Cornish, a well-respected Melbourne journalist held in high esteem for his integrity, announced in The Age Epicure (Tuesday publication of The Age Melbourne newspaper) that he had given up eating flesh and had lost an incredible amount of weight. A photo of his healthy-looking face and beaming smile accompanied the article and said it all.

Grabbing the vegie might:


The Old Foodie also published a post on her blog about a picnic held by The Vegetarian Society of New York in June 1899. I do not think that the journalist who reported the event in The New York Times was in favour of vegetarians – I found this amusing and I hope that some of these views about vegetarians have changed.


There are many posts on this blog about vegetables, how to clean and how to cook them, but far too many to list here.

Use the search buttons to find recipes for: artichokes, broadbeans, cardoons, cavolo nero, chicory, cime di rape, celeriac, fennel, indivia (escarole, endives) kohlrabi, salad greens – frisee, romaine, radicchio, radish etc.
Let’s not forget summer vegetables: eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini….