IN CELEBRATION OF new cookbook From the Veg Patch 

we asked award-winning cook and writer Kathy Slack to share some of her seasonal highlights

For a kitchen gardener, being asked to pick your favourite vegetable is like having to pick a favourite child. And when you learnt to grow and cook at Daylesford, the job of picking a favourite is made all the more difficult by having been exposed so many beautiful and delicious harvests. An apprenticeship like the one I had, initially working in the Market Garden and then moving on to the Cookery School, is an idyllic learning environment, and hugely inspiring, but when everything is so exciting, so delicious, so full of potential, how can you pick just one favourite?

Nonetheless, in my new cookbook, I have managed to narrow it down, selecting ten of my most beloved fruit and vegetables and giving a chapter to each with recipes to make that hero harvest the centre of the dish. So, at the risk of attempting the impossible, here are my top 3 summery favourite children from that shortlist list and some tips for how best to enjoy them.

1) Courgettes

fast, generous, delicious and straightforward: a perfect vegetable.

Growing: a terrific starter crop, with few pests and only occasional diseases. Two plants will keep a family in courgettes all summer and they work nicely in large pots if you don’t have a garden.

Cooking & eating: young, freshly picked courgettes need no more than thinly slicing into ribbons with a speed peeler and dousing in olive oil, lemon juice and salt.

buy organic courgettes

2) Peas

rarely make it as far as the kitchen when I grow them; most get eaten in the garden amongst the raised beds as soon as they are picked.

Growing: I like ‘Meteor’, a quick early pea that doesn’t mess around. Poke the seeds in the ground around 5cm deep anytime from March to August and watch them fly. They like twiggy branches to scramble up too (cue frolicking around a nearby wood collecting sticks like a character in a fairytale).

Eating: If they make it as far as the kitchen, fresh peas have a firmer texture and more robust flavour than the wall-to-wall sweetness of frozen peas. Briefly steam, then add to a smoked trout salad. Afterwards, boil the shells to make pea stock for pea risotto.

browse pea recipes

3) Tomatoes

there are so many different types of tomatoes that even just a few pots can make the garden feel like a pick and mix sweet shop.

Growing: a little tricky, but great in pots. If you are new to growing, I recommend bush varieties ‘Tumbling Tom’, which tend to be prolific and don’t require the fuss of staking or pinching out that cordon varieties do.

Eating: early harvests are picked, warm from the sun, sliced and, at most, mushed onto sourdough toast with salt and devoured straight from the chopping board, juice dribbling down my chin. Even the unripe green ones that linger into autumn make fabulous chutney.

buy organic tomatoes

Award-winning cook and writer Kathy Slack is joining us this summer at Daylesford to sign copies of From the Veg Patch. Book signings are free to attend and we so hope you can join us:

Kathy has also shared some of her favourite recipes from the book with us, find them in our recipe section.