pickled courgettes, rye bread & goat's cheese
When there's an abundance of certain vegetables in season, it's easy to get stuck in routine and keep preparing them the same way.
Courgettes are a vegetable that may struggle to get on may people's list of summer hits, but I found that pickling them is a great way to retain a crunchy texture and bring new flavours into the mix.
For this simple recipe, it was useful to have a variety of shape and colour of courgette. These yellow and green ones came from North Aston Organics (www.northastonorganics.co.uk) - a place I knew from collecting leeks there in the winter.
These 3 specimens were selected by Peter Slade from 2 North Parade, Oxford (www.2northparade.com) and were entrusted into my care together with a bottle of Burrow Hill cider vinegar, which is farm pressed in Somerset.
To start off, slice the courgettes and then cover them with a couple of teaspoons of salt for about 2 hours. This helps draw out the water and keeps the texture of the pickle more crunchy. Rinse the courgettes a couple of times in cold water to remove the salt and drain.
Meanwhile, prepare a pickling solution of 2 cups vinegar, 2 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon mustard seed, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried minced garlic, 1 teaspoon celery seed and 1 bay leaf torn into pieces.
Add the vinegar, sugar and spices to a saucepan and heat just until boiling. Stir until the sugar dissolves and turn off the heat.
Layer the courgettes with some sliced white onion, and a few jalapeño peppers if desired to give an added kick. You could also add sliced red and yellow peppers, or whatever you desire.
This lovely jar is from Old Made (www.oldmadeshop.co.uk) which is stocked by 2 North Parade and is a perfect container for the pickles.
Let the pickles marinate for at least 24 hours, or 48 hours for a fuller flavour. They're then happy to stay in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks or so, if they can last that long.
Served together with goat's cheese from Southdown Farm in Witney (southdownfarm.blogspot.co.uk) and rye bread from the Natural Bread Company in Oxford (naturalbreadcompany.co.uk), it was a perfect combination.
Photography: Ben Robinson
Food styling: Tanya Robinson