We all love summer, right? Any excuse to indulge in an ice cream or a jug of Pimms, the smell of meat cooking over hot coals, dipping your feet in the paddling pool – all fantastic things that we miss in the winter months. But there’s one thing I struggle with once the temperature starts to soar – what to serve on a Sunday. Cold weather and roast dinners go together like cheese and pickle but what I don’t mind being samey in September and October, starts to grate a bit in the summer months.
Yes, I’m talking about meat and salad. Salad and meat. There’s nothing to stop us roasting a chicken and serving it with a couple of salads and a side serving of bread, but it’s just not the same, right? And whereas a big old barbeque is fantastic, I think it’s safe to say that most people aren’t going to feel like doing this every week. So what can you serve on Sunday afternoon that is a little bit special, but doesn’t require that much effort to put together and won’t bore you rigid…
Well, let’s start with the meat. Like I mentioned before, there’s nothing to stop you roasting a joint, but there are other things you can serve it with other than salad. One holiday food that’s been forever burnt on my memory is Greek Gyros. The combination of slices of tender pork, homemade tzatziki, ripe tomatoes and crunchy, sweet lettuce, all wrapped up in a large flatbread, is one I can completely get on board with. I recently had a bit of a craving for these, so I roasted a rolled joint of pork with some olive oil and a Mediterranean spice mix, let it rest for a bit once cooked and served it with all of the above. It did not disappoint.
When it comes to chicken, you can adopt the same principle – instead of roasting with butter and garden herbs, cook using Middle Eastern spices and serve with a Moroccan couscous. In fact, any couscous is a great summer side dish – so easy to prepare and so tasty if you get the ingredients right. I recently made once that involved frying off some chopped Mediterranean vegetables (red onion, courgette, red pepper) and tossing this in the couscous with some chopped toasted almonds. Going back to the chicken, I tried to replicate the spicy rice side from a well-known Portuguese restaurant to serve with some, you’ve guessed it, chicken. This involved frying some chopped onion and red pepper, adding some paprika and chipotle sauce with a small amount of water and simmering this. I put in some frozen peas and cooked them through before adding the cooked rice and stirring the lot together. It’s wasn’t an exact replica, granted, but tasty all the same.
There are some dishes that work whatever the weather, they just need a bit of adaptation in the hotter months. For example, thinking back again to Greek holidays from years gone past, I remembered the traditional lamb stew that was enjoyed in very hot temperatures. Adding Mediterranean flavour to meat stews and serving them with rice works really well on a sunny afternoon, and let’s not forget those recipes that you can bake in one dish – moussaka and the humble lasagne for example. I think with these ones I’ll admit that salad is probably the best side to serve. It’s not that I’m completely against salad, but that it’s gets a bit much every day. Maybe I just need to be a bit adventurous with my salads…[indeed-social-media sm_list='fb,tw,goo,rd,pt' sm_template='ism_template_3' sm_list_align='horizontal' sm_display_counts='true' sm_display_full_name='true' ]