tthese are great dishes for summer events. The gazpacho can be made ahead of time and will get better while it waits in the fridge: give it a quick stir to recombine, and you’re good to go. The aïoli makes a wonderful centerpiece – piles of seasonal vegetables with a spicy, garlic-spiced dip for dipping. Again, this can usually be prepared ahead of time, with just a few elements to finish on the grill, giving you more time at the party.
This is a lively and cooling take on gazpacho for when the sun is out. Make sure to add a fair amount of salt, oil, and vinegar to make it sing.
Preparation 15 minutes
Chilling/resting 1 hour +
Serves 6-8 as a starter
1 cucumberpitted, flesh chopped
2 green peppersstem, seeds and pit removed, flesh chopped
1 large fennel bulbhard stems removed, rest chopped
2 stalks celeryminced meat
5 spring onionscleaned and chopped (or 1 small onion, peeled and chopped)
2 cloves of garlicpeeled and roughly chopped
50 g stale white breadcut or broken into pieces
2-4 tablespoons sherry vinegaror more to taste
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oilor more to taste, plus extra for garnish
Sea salt and black pepper
25 g basil leaves
25 g mint leaves
1 green pepperpitted if you want less heat (optional)
Place the first seven ingredients in a large bowl with the sherry vinegar, half the oil and a generous pinch of sea salt. Squeeze everything well with your hands to help release the juices, then let it sit for at least 30 minutes, and longer if possible.
Place the mix in a blender and grind until very smooth; you may need to start with half of the mix and mix it in before adding the rest. Mix in the basil and mint leaves, as well as the chilli, if using, taste and adjust the spices as needed: it will definitely take more salt and maybe a little more vinegar to bring out the flavors. Add the remaining oil and blend again until the soup is smooth. Refrigerate until very cold.
Serve drizzled with more oil and a dash of black pepper, and some crusty bread on the side.
Grand herbal aïoli
This is a variation on the French classic. A few charred elements add another dimension, while the spice-infused aïoli ties it all together. Swap in other veggies if you like them. If you don’t have a griddle or barbecue grill, roast the courgettes, aubergines, and peppers in a very hot oven, turning them halfway through.
Preparation 20 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
250 g green beansdoused
Salt and black pepper
600 g new potatoes
6 courgettes (about 900 g), cut into 1 cm thick slices
3 aubergines (about 900 g), cut into 1 cm thick slices
75 ml olive oilfor cooking, plus extra for sprinkling
4 red peppers – romano are great, but bell works too
250 grams cherry tomatoeson the vine, ideally
2 baby gem lettuce
200 g kalamata olivesor others that excite you
2 lemonscut into wedges
1-2 baguettesto serve
For the aïoli
2 egg yolks
20 g Dijon mustard
20 g vinegar
2 cloves of garlicpeeled and finely grated
1 green pepperpitted (optional)
250 g extra virgin olive oilmild taste not too bitter, or use 50:50 with a low-taste other oil
20 g basil, dill and coriander
Make the aioli first. Place the egg yolks, mustard, vinegar, garlic and a generous pinch of salt in a blender and pulse to combine. With the engine running on low, slowly drip the oil through the central funnel until the mixture emulsifies. Add the spices, blend again until smooth, adding more salt if needed.
Blanch the beans in a pan of well-salted boiling water until soft. Remove with a slotted spoon and cool in ice water. Add the potatoes to the boiling water, simmer until easily pierced with the tip of a knife, drain and place on a platter with the beans next to them.
Place the sliced courgettes and aubergines on a baking tray, drizzle with enough oil and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Toss to evenly distribute the oil and grill the slices slowly in batches, either in a griddle pan or on a barbecue, about 3 minutes on each side. When they’re done, transfer them to another baking sheet to keep them warm and finish cooking in the remaining heart.
Place the peppers on the grill and cook, turning if necessary, until the skin blackens and blisters. Once soft and giving, transfer to a bowl and cover with a plate. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the blackened skin, remove the stems, seeds and pith and tear the flesh into strips. Add to the bowl.
Meanwhile, quarter each lettuce lengthwise. Add to the bowl with the tomatoes and lemon wedges and place the olives in a bowl next to it. Decant the herb aioli in a bowl and add that to the bowl as well.
When the courgettes and aubergines are ready, arrange them on the platter. A last dash of oil and a pinch of salt never hurts. Serve with baguette, cut into coarse slices.