July brings a glut of succulent summer fruit and vegetables. The trees and hedgerows are laden with berries, ripening peaches and the elusive British favourite: the all too short-seasoned cherry.
In the gardens and fields the aniseed-tinged fennel is perfectly tender and cucumbers and aubergines are at their freshest while mackerel, crab and lamb are the pick for meat and fish.
Top chef Theo Randall said: July is one of the best times of year for British vegetables! Some of the highlights are peas, broad beans, asparagus, red and golden beetroot, courgette flowers, swiss chard, and a variety of tomatoes (although the weather has hampered them a bit so far this year. In the summer months, I also like to cook with samphire and in the next couple of weeks one of my Recipes For The Weekend is a delicious monkfish and scallop dish with a samphire and fennel salad."
Ben Tish, Head Chef at the Salt Yard restaurant also recommends tomatoes, adding: "There are some amazing heritage varieties of tomatoes around now in all shapes, sizes and colours. Don’t jusrt go for the super sweet generic varieties that don’t have character. I like to mix a salad with 4-5 different types with a sweet one and then some crunchy and sour types to add interest and balance. Try marjoram or oregano inastead of basil for an earthy alternative.
"Grilled or bbq asparagus is a revelation. Nicely charred it adds another dimension and you loose a lot less nutrients and flavour than simply boiling. I like to serve them with an egg to,the runny yolk is a perfect partner.
We've picked our favourite ingredients for July with some inspiration for getting the best out of the cream of this season's crop.