A typical Aussie summer wouldn’t be the same without a fridge full of our favourite seasonal ingredients – watermelon, avocados, peaches, passionfruit, mangoes, basil and, of course, seafood. In the search for new ways to use these much-loved flavours, we scoured the globe to discover how other countries cool down using summer’s best produce.
By
Laura Venuto

4 May 2014 - 11:01 AM  UPDATED 10 Jun 2015 - 11:44 AM

Tomatoes
French tomato tart (tarte à la tomate)
The simple tomato tart is a favourite French dish that make uses of all of those excess ripe summer tomatoes in the kitchen. There are a number of variations, including the upside down tarte Tatin, but this tarte à la tomate is a classic recipe, without cream or eggs in the filling, and just a little kick of Dijon mustard smeared over the free-form pastry base.

 

Prawns
Spanish prawn fritters (tortillitas de camarones)
These crisp fritters are a specialty of the Cádiz province in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia. Traditionally, a tiny variety of shrimp, or camarón, is used. The small crustaceans are encased in a batter of chickpea flour, parsley and onion before being fried.

 

Mango
Indian mango smoothie (mango lassi)
Creamy, sweet and tart all at once, the lassi is a refreshing smoothie-style drink of yoghurt, water and salt, flavoured with spices such as cardamom and cumin. This street food staple is traditionally plain and salty, and served chilled, but many sweet, fruit-based versions have become popular in recent years, none more so than the mango lassi. It is often served alongside curries to cool the palate, or just whenever it’s needed to beat the heat.

 

Feta
Greek feta pie (alevropita)
Feta is synonymous with Greece. Although found on Greek tables year round, the sharp tang of this brined curd cheese shines in the hot Mediterranean summer, paired with watermelon and olives, tossed in refreshing salads, or eaten by itself with olive oil and dried oregano. Alevropita, a specialty of Epirus in northwestern Greece, is similarly beautiful in its simplicity. Essentially a doughy flatbread topped with feta and flavoured with oregano, it requires minimal ingredients and is easy to prepare, making it perfect for a picnic in the warmer weather.

 

Passionfruit
Brazilian passionfruit cake (bolo de maracujá)
Considering the passionfruit originated in Brazil, it is little wonder that it features in so many of the nation’s desserts. This simple sponge cake is not only laced with passionfruit, it is then drizzled in a rich passionfruit syrup for a double dose of tangy sweetness. Some versions of this cake also include a passionfruit mousse sandwiched between layers of the sponge. You will need a 20 cm round ring cake pan for this recipe. It is best served the day it is made.

 

Crab
Singapore wok-fried black pepper crab
Thought to have been created in the 1950s at Long Beach Seafood restaurant, black pepper crab has since become a staple of Singapore’s street food stalls and is one of the country’s most iconic dishes. The crab is deep-fried first and then smothered in a thick, rich oyster sauce spiced with plenty of peppercorns, chillies and ginger.

 

Basil
Ligurian green lasagne (lasagna verde)
According to the Ligurians of Italy’s north-west the basil that grows around the coast of Liguria is the best in the world thanks to the area’s unique geography. The capital, Genoa, is the birthplace of basil pesto after all, and it is rare to find a Genoan without a plot of basil, or some growing on the windowsill. This lasagna is a perfect way to make the most of a summertime abundance of the herb – the meat is replaced with a fragrant basil pesto. You will need a pasta machine for this recipe.

 

Peaches
American grilled-peach salad
Peaches are a favourite American fruit in summer, especially in the south, where they are used in all manner of recipes including cobblers and pies. This salad brings together the sweetness of ripe peaches and candied pecans with a salty hit of bacon and a rich buttermilk dressing.

 

Avocado
Jamaican avocado ice-cream
In Jamaica, avocados (which are sometimes referred to as alligator pears) are commonly eaten with a hard, sweet bread known as bulla, as well as made into a chilled soup. Perhaps a little more unusually, they are also used to make ice-cream. The creamy, delicate flavour works surprisingly well, especially with the addition of lime juice to cut through the richness.

 

Watermelon
Sicilian watermelon pudding (gelo di melone)
This wobbly Sicilian summer snack hails from the capital, Palermo, and is a popular way to make use of the season’s watermelon glut. The refreshing jelly is typically prepared in the hottest month, August. And while it generally only includes three ingredients – watermelon, sugar and cornflour – the garnishes vary from area to area, ranging from cinnamon, jasmine and pistachios, to chocolate chips, which are thought to resemble watermelon seeds.

 

Photography Chris Chen

 

As seen in Feast magazine, Dec/Jan 2013, Issue 27. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.