Gazpacho, mackerel and salsa verde: Roberta Hall-McCarron’s light summer meals – recipes

Warm evenings mean mealtimes take a slower, easier pace – serve these as light meals, starters or as small plates to share

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Roberta Hall-McCarron
Sat 17 Jul 2021 11.00 BST
Mackerel, salsa verde and peaches
Prep 5 min
Cook 15 min
Serves 2

3 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
50g bunch tarragon
50g bunch basil
50g bunch mint
50g bunch parsley
40g small capers
4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained
1 garlic clove, peeled
200ml rapeseed oil, plus a little extra to coat the fish
Salt and pepper
30g flaked almonds
2 mackerel, filleted
2 ripe peaches

First make the salsa verde. Whisk the mustard and vinegar in a medium bowl. Roughly chop the herbs and capers, and add to the mustard mix. Finely chop the anchovies and finely grate the garlic, add both to the herb mix, then whisk in the oil and season to taste.

Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan, stirring, until lightly coloured all over, then set aside.

Heat the grill to high. Rub a little oil over both sides of the mackerel fillets, season generously, then grill for two minutes on each side (alternatively, wrap them individually in foil and barbecue for two minutes a side).

While the fish is cooking, halve and stone the peaches, then cut each half lengthways into three wedges. Lightly salt the peaches and dry fry (or barbecue) for a minute or so, until coloured on all sides.

Place two mackerel fillets on each plate, then randomly arrange the peaches over and around them. Drizzle generously with the salsa verde (keep any excess in the fridge for a few days), sprinkle with the toasted almonds and serve.

Cucumber gazpacho
Prep 5 min
Cook 15 min
Infuse 3-4 hr+
Serves 4

2 cucumbers
2 green peppers
100g sourdough bread
60g bunch fresh mint, picked and roughly chopped
80ml sherry vinegar
100ml good olive oil, plus extra to finish
½ garlic clove, finely minced
200g peas in the pod
400g broad beans in the pod
50g radishes
40g seedless black grapes
80g creme fraiche

Cut the cucumbers, peppers and bread into roughly 3cm cubes, then put in a bowl with the chopped mint. Add the vinegar, oil and garlic, stir to combine, then cover and leave to infuse at room temperature for three to four hours (or start a day ahead and leave to infuse in the fridge).

Once infused, blend the contents of the bowl until smooth, then season to taste with salt and a touch more vinegar, if required.

Pod the peas and broad beans, then blanch them in boiling salted water for 10 seconds and drain. Once cool enough to handle, peel off and discard the outer skins of both the beans and peas (this isn’t strictly necessary, but they’ll look much greener and prettier if you do so).

Thinly slice the radishes and the grapes. Put the peas, beans and radishes in a small bowl, drizzle over a little olive oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper, and toss to combine.

Pour the gazpacho into bowls and sprinkle some of the pea mix on top of each portion. Spoon a dollop of creme fraiche in the centre of the gazpacho and scatter the sliced grapes on top.

Tomato, ricotta and strawberry flatbread
Prep 5 min
Prove 1 hr+
Drain 2-3 hr
Cook 10 min
Serves 4

For the flatbreads (this will make about 10)
225ml full-fat Greek-style yoghurt
200ml water
14g fast-action dry active yeast (ie, 2 sachets)
14g (4¾ tsp) caster sugar
12g (4 tsp) fine sea salt
500g strong flour

For the ricotta (or buy a 250g tub)
1.1 litres full-fat milk
350ml double cream
1 tsp fine salt
70ml lemon juice (ie, from about 2½ lemons)

To finish
4 medium heritage tomatoes – a mixture of varieties, ideally
100ml white balsamic vinegar
20ml cold-pressed rapeseed oil
1 pinch fine salt
1 pinch caster sugar
8 strawberries, halved
20g mint leaves, roughly torn
20g basil leaves, roughly torn

First, the ricotta, if you’re making your own. Put the milk, cream and salt in a pan and heat to 94C. Take off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and set aside for five minutes, until the mix curdles. Pour into a fine-mesh sieve lined with muslin or a J-cloth and leave to drip through for two to three hours. Congratulations – you’ve just made your own ricotta.

In a small pan, heat the yoghurt and water until just warm (32C). In a small bowl, mix the yeast and sugar. In a large bowl, mix the salt into the flour. Add the yeast mix to the warm yoghurt, stir so the yeast dissolves, then pour into the flour bowl and mix, either with your hands or a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, until all the flour is incorporated and the mix comes together into a smooth dough. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover and leave to prove for about 30 minutes, until doubled in size. (The dough will keep in the fridge, wrapped, for a good couple of days, if need be.)

Once the dough has proved, knock it back, then pull off four roughly 100g pieces (to make four flatbreads) and roll into balls (it’s much easier to make the dough in a larger batch, so save the excess to make more flatbreads another day). Arrange on a tray lined with oiled greaseproof paper, cover and leave to prove again for half an hour.

Cut the tomatoes into roughly 1cm-thick slices, put in a bowl with the salt and sugar, and leave to macerate for five minutes. Add the white balsamic and oil, stir gently, then leave at room temperature for an hour.

Now to finish the dish. Put a little oil on your hands, then stretch out the balls of dough until they’re about 1cm thick. Cook in a dry frying pan (or on a barbecue) for about three minutes, turning once, until nicely coloured on both sides, then remove and keep warm.

In the same pan, lightly colour the strawberry halves, then set aside. Put one flatbread on each plate, spread with ricotta, top first with the tomatoes and then the strawberries, sprinkle with the herbs and serve at once.