July in the Kitchen Garden

July was the month that the main harvest started and we’ve enjoyed plenty of peas, French green beans, courgettes, chard and lettuce to keep our kitchen larder stocked! The second early potatoes were also ready towards the end of the month and we’ve been enjoying those especially with seasonal fish suppers. The veg beds need constant weeding and tidying this time of year also to allow the veg to have the best conditions to come through, along with lots of watering and feeding to allow their fruits to swell! We’ve also been pinching out out tomato plants to allow them to concentrate on swelling their fruit and feeding regularly also. Towards the end of the month/early August the first kale and runner beans were ready to pick.

The fruit garden has been abundant this year for us, helped by the combination of some warm sunny days to help ripen the fruit, but also rainy days to help swell it and make nice and juicy! We were still picking strawberries well into the month, along with blackcurrants, blueberries and raspberries. The blackberries are also early to ripen this year and we have picked a good 500g already! Now the only decision left is what to make with them?!

Here are some pictures of our harvest:

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Summery Moroccan Chicken with Harissa Vegetables

This dish is a perfect lighter roast for summery Sundays, preferably when it’s a good enough day to eat al fresco. You can get most of the ingredients in a good supermarket such as Waitrose or specialist markets and even health food stores. Maroque is also a very good website for Moroccan ingredients and kitchenware. Sumac is an unusual spice made from red berries often used in Middle Eastern cuisine. I will be posting a recipe later too for how to make your own preserved lemons so watch this space!!

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 medium – large whole chicken
1 preserved lemon, quartered
1 tsp Sumac
Generous pinch of Saffron
2 tbsp good Olive oil
1 tsp coarse Sea Salt
2 tbsp Harissa Paste
French green beans (as many as you like!)
Handful of cherry tomatoes
1 sliced courgette

Preheat oven to 190 degrees. Prepare the bird by rubbing the skin with Sumac, Saffron and sea salt. Into the cavity of the chicken add the preserved lemon quarters. Put the bird into a large roasting dish and drizzle with the olive oil (rubbing into the skin again if you wish).

Roast in the oven for 1 1/2 – 2 hours until no pink meat left and the juices run clear. Take out of the oven and keep warm until ready to serve by wrapping in foil and placing a clean tea towel over the top. Carve when ready.

In the meantime prepare the vegetables. Blanch the green beans in boiling water for a few minutes, then take out and drain. Heat some olive oil in a large griddle pan and when hot add the the courgettes and cook for a few minutes. Then add the drained green beans, tomatoes and Harissa paste and stir to cover the veg with the paste and olive oil. Cook until courgette and green beans are browned and the tomatoes are just beginning to release their juices.

Serve with roasted or sautéed potatoes and a good chilled Rosé wine. Enjoy!

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