Onion Squash, Okra & Figs

Onion Squash is so named because its shape is similar to that of an onion (quelle surprise). It is bright orange in colour and possesses flesh of the same hue – though slightly paler, and which, in common with all other squashes, surrounds a seeded inner cavity. You can do everything with it that you can do with a butternut squash or edible pumpkin - but on a more manageable scale. In fact, come to think of it, you can do one extra thing that you cannot do with either of the other two, which is eat the skin. That’s right, folks, the skin is edible (once cooked, of course) which makes it a cinch to prepare, because one only needs to slice it in half, hollow it out, cut into wedges and shove in the oven for about twenty minutes. Anyway, the ones of which I speak are Portuguese, roughly the size of a grapefruit and should be available to order individually.

English Purple Sprouting Broccoli is just starting to come back on stream after a several months in the wilderness. I do, however, urge caution against getting over-excited, because I only saw evidence of a few small crates in the entire market, and what they contained wasn’t particularly impressive. Scrawny looking and blotchy, a good proportion of the buds were already starting to turn yellow. To be honest, the only reason I’m bothering to mention it at all is in order to give those who’ve been missing it so much (and there are many) a bit of a fillip by the very mention of the fact that it has at least arrived.

English Rainbow Chard is getting better all the while and now comprises four distinct colours, namely, Red, White, Yellow and Orange.

I think I may be tempting providence by saying this, but after a brief appearance around six or so weeks ago, shortly after which it seemed to disappear entirely, English Red Gem Lettuce has now re-emerged and should be available to order. All English whole head lettuces are generally doing extremely well, despite early fears of shortages and poor quality caused by the unseasonably wet June.

French Mixed Heritage Tomatoes are more abundant this week, but remain expensive, nevertheless. English Heritage Tomatoes are becoming more plentiful again after a couple of weeks of short supply.

English and Continental Asparagus has now finished and been replaced by Peruvian and Mexican imports, which are both excellent in their own right.

Did you know that Okra, aka Ladies’ Fingers, is a member of the mallow family of plants and is therefore related to the soft, gooey substance found in Tunnock’s Tea Cakes or the small, pink and white pellets you sprinkle on your hot chocolate? Although, to be honest, I’m not sure if modern confectionary actually contains any natural marshmallow extracted from the actual plant itself - but you get my drift. Anyway, back to the subject of Okra, and a brief observation that there appears to be quite a bit of it in the market at present, mostly from India, but from Mexico also. Okra can be eaten raw, steamed, pan-fried, baked or roasted and, due its gelatinous properties when cooked, is ideal as an ingredient in soups and stews. It contains potassium, vitamins B and C, folic acid and calcium, is low in calories and high in dietary fibre.

New season English Kohl Rabi has started, and if you’ve never prepared or even tasted whole roasted or braised Kohl Rabi, then give it a go, you’re in for a treat if you do. It can also be prepared and cooked like most other cabbages (which is essentially what it is), and works very well in slaws due to its firm texture. Please remember, also, that the leaves and stalks are also edible and both can be either briefly sautéed, steamed or stir-fried.

New Season English Blackcurrants have now started and available in 125g punnets, With the Wimbledon Tennis Championships having now drawn to a conclusion, it’s predicted that demand for English Strawberries will likely begin to ease and prices come down as a consequence. As you would expect, Cherries are currently superb and their price very reasonable at present. Furthermore, Peaches, Nectarines, Apricots and Plums remain excellent, in terms of both quality and value for money.

Italian Fresh Figs are golf-ball sized, plump and tender-skinned, and despite possessing slightly pale flesh, are nevertheless sweet and flavoursome. Highly recommended.