The warmth of the sun is irreplaceable, longed for in the depths of winter, it’s the only thing that, for all our technology, we cannot buy on the shelf. And when sun is shining, what we really need is light, refreshing and delicious food. Recipes that don’t require too much effort and hours in the kitchen

And as we move towards summer, produce is at its peak. Delicious fruits and vegetables abound at local markets and besides being low in calories, loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, you’ll be thrilled at how fresh, delicious, and satisfying it all tastes. Here are a few of my essential sunshine ingredients:

Watermelon -Natures Ice lolly has more than 80 percent water, so it’s an excellent way to satisfy your thirst and keep you hydrated during long summer days.
Chilled soups –These are also the perfect appetizers to start your meal. Gazpachos are wonderful thirst-quenching, liquid salads, made with fresh, raw vegetables and ripe tomatoes; they are the perfect thing for long, hot summer days. The best known is "Gazpacho Andaluz", the signature dish of Andalusia, now recognised throughout Spain as the king of all chilled soups.

Gazpacho has humble, peasant origins and was originally made by pounding bread, water and garlic in a pestle and mortar long before the arrival of the tomato and the discovery of the new world. In modern times, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers were added, and then spiked with a little olive oil and vinegar. A star was born and in time, this simple peasant soup would go on to grace the tables of some of the world’s most lavish restaurants.

Gazpachos are really easy to make and keep well in the refrigerator for 2-3 day's. In fact, they quite often taste much better the day after as the flavours become more pronounced. It’s also a really healthy start to a meal and makes for a great snack at any time of the day. You can also pour it into a flask to keep cool and take it to the beach. When making gazpacho, make sure you choose perfectly ripe tomatoes that are full of flavour as well as good olive oil and high quality sherry vinegar.

Sun-drenched vegetables -bursting with colour, sun-drenched vegetables hold a very important place in Mediterranean cookery. Aubergines, artichokes, sweet peppers and courgettes are all perfect summer ingredients.

Cucumber is rightly called cool as it is about 20% naturally cooler than other vegetables. A chilled or fresh cucumber slice in your salads or vegetables can be truly refreshing.

Salad leaves do a body good; some have high levels of vitamin c (such as watercress) and calcium. Others contain substantial amounts of potassium, vitamin a, beta-carotene and add much-needed fibre to the diet. My favourite salad leaf is rocket, a strong, peppery leaf with jagged-edged leaves and a pleasant bite. It goes well with Mediterranean ingredients such as sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts.
Tomatoes-Juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes, grown in the Mediterranean sun, are the ultimate summer ingredient. Full of flavour, with a slightly aromatic scent, they are one of those magical ingredients, like high quality olive oil and lemons that make the others sing. You should also make the most of Sun-dried tomatoes.
Water - Lastly nothing can be as refreshing and satisfying as a glass of water on a hot summer day. Keep yourself well hydrated. Stay cool and stay healthy!


    Ingredients:             serves 4

4                        ripe tomatoes
Cucumbers, peeled and chopped
2                         green peppers
Medium onion, peeled and chopped
2tbsp            sherry vinegar
200ml            good olive oil
2tbsp            tomato puree
200g             yesterdays bread
Garlic cloves
500ml            cold water
6            Ice cubes
2tbsp            mayonnaise (optional)
                        Salt / pepper

Place all the ingredients, except the mayonnaise, in a bowl and marinate for at least 30 minutes. Place in a food processor and blend to a fine consistency. Pass through a fine sieve whisk in the mayonnaise, chill and serve in a soup tureen.
Fattoush is a wonderful Lebanese salad and real sunshine food

Ingredients:            serves 4
1            cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1cm/½in dice
             salt and freshly ground black pepper
6tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3             pitta breads, cut into strips 1cm/½in wide
2             cloves of garlic, crushed
             juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 tbsp coriander leaves
2 tbsp roughly chopped mint, roughly chopped
1             red onion, cut into 1cm/½in dice
5             ripe tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1cm/½in dice
2             small green peppers, cut into 1cm/½in dice

Place the diced cucumber in a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave to drain for 20 minutes. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a frying pan and fry the bread until it is golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper to remove any excess oil.

In a large bowl mix together the garlic, lemon juice, the remaining olive oil and the herbs to make the dressing. Add the diced vegetables and toss well to coat with the dressing. Season and garnish with the strips of fried bread. Serve immediately.

Bresaola with Rocket, Parmesan & Sun Dried Tomatoes

Bresoala is cured beef from Italy, the taste is more delicate, yet a little sharper, than prosciutto di Parma – though this would make a delicious alternative here, as would beef carpaccio

Ingredients            serves 6

200g            Bresaola, finely sliced

250g            rocket

5tbsp            virgin olive oil

2-3 tsp            truffle oil, to taste

3tbsp            lemon juice

100g            shaved Parmesan
6            sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

In a small bowl, mix together the two oils with the lemon juice; season to taste. Whisk well with a fork, check the strength of the truffle flavour and pour over the rocket. Mix gently and combine with the slices of bresaola, then divide between 8 plates.
Wash and dry the rocket leaves add the sun dried tomatoes, Parmesan and place a small salad over the bresoala slices.