I love cooking seasonably, and summer is undoubtedly the best season for fruits and veggies. From sweet berries to sumptuous stone fruits, fresh herbs to juicy marrows… What’s not to love! It’s why I’m excited to share with you a seasonal summer dinner party menu with you today, created in collaboration with Ocado*.
I tend to shop online for groceries because it’s just so convenient, and I can always trust Ocado to deliver fresh, high quality ingredients that I would pick for myself. I love that they show what’s in season each month in their Fresh & Chilled section*, which always provides new inspiration for recipes and ensures I get some good, nutritious, local food in my diet! If you’d like to try Ocado, you can get £20 off grocery products when you spend £60 or more* with the code: VOU5089741
Having moved into our new home a few months ago, we’re now settled in enough to host friends and family for dinner. This menu is my latest rendition, featuring three dishes that are all in season, and all have a similar flavour profile. The soup stars fresh basil and mouth-watering lemon, and that’s carried into the slightly spicy arrabbiata sauce in the main. Spaghetti is always a winner and left our guests feeling satisfied, before adding the cherry on top (quite literally) with the roasted cherries dessert. The dessert is aromatic, featuring more of a Middle Eastern influence, with sumac, tahini, and turmeric, but stays fresh with the tart cherries and sweet ice cream. And for those who fancied a little extra, there were plenty of tahini biscuits to go round!
Do let me know if you give this menu a go – we absolutely loved it!
Starter: Fresh Green Courgette, Pea & Basil Soup
This courgette, pea, and basil soup is my absolute favourite to make across the summer, when courgettes are in season. I like to make this dish as a light lunch and it doubled really well as a starter for this three-course dinner.
This dish is originally inspired by a recipe found in Ottolenghi’s Simple cookbook* which I’ve adapted to be vegan. I tend to eat vegan when I can, as it’s an easy way to reduce my impact, and this dish comes to life with a splash of olive oil and sprinkle of lemon zest.
Serves 6 – 50 minutes – 1 of your 5 a day – Vegan
- Wash your courgettes, top and tail, and chop into 2cm slices. Peel the head of garlic and leave cloves whole. Wash the basil, remove leaves from stalks and finely chop the stalks. Zest the lemon and juice.
- In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, pour in the olive oil and place on a medium high heat. When hot, add the whole garlic cloves and chopped basil stalks. Fry for 2-3 minutes until the garlic is golden.
Main: Spaghetti Swirled In Fresh Arrabbiata Sauce
Arrabbiata sauce is one of the easiest sauces to make at home, with only five key ingredients needed – garlic, basil, chilli, passata, and olive oil. I’m always surprised how popular the ready-made arrabbiata sauces are, because it’s just so much easier and cheaper to do it yourself!
This dish is great any time of year, but even better when tomatoes are in season – I like to add a handful of baby plum tomatoes into the sauce for a little extra pizzazz.
Serves 6 – 30 minutes – 1 of your 5 a day – Vegan
- Start by preparing your ingredients: peel and chop the garlic. Wash the basil, separate the leaves, and finely chop the stalks. Finely slice the chilli pepper (if you prefer a milder dish, remove the seeds).
- In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil. Add the chilli, garlic, and basil stalks to the pan. Leave to infuse for 1-2 minutes.
Dessert: Roasted Cherries, Tahini Biscuits & Ice Cream
And finally, the pièce de résistance: this roasted cherries dessert. Cherries are my favourite fruit, so this dish ranks pretty highly when it comes to my favourite desserts! Making the most of what’s in season in the summer has been a big focus for me this year, as it’s an easy way to eat more sustainably and save a few pennies too. This dish really is the cherry on top of a seasonal summer dinner party.
Serves 6 – 60 minutes – 1 of your 5 a day – Vegan
Ingredients for Roasted Cherries:
Ingredients for Tahini Biscuits:
- Start by washing, halving and pitting your cherries. Zest and juice the lemon, and divide into two.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. In a bowl, mix your cherries, sumac, maple syrup, half of the lemon juice and zest, and a pinch of salt. Transfer onto a baking tray and put into the oven on the middle or bottom shelf for 15-20 minutes. Once cooked and juicy, remove from the oven and place on the side to cool.
Eating Seasonably Is Easy With Ocado
I really enjoyed putting this dinner party menu together, and I think my guests enjoyed eating it even more so! There are numerous ways to eat sustainably, and I think eating with the seasons is the most fun. It means new fruits, veggies, nuts and herbs to try all year round, and helps to support local farmers too. Shopping for what’s in season is easy with Ocado, and I’m always impressed at the quality and care that’s taken to deliver my groceries. If you’d like to try Ocado, you can get £20 off grocery products when you spend £60 or more* with the code: VOU5089741