Seasonal vegetable salad with garlic vinaigrette.
Seasonal vegetable salad with garlic vinaigrette. Babiche Martens, NZ Herald

Fresh produce can save you money

TO BE a wise and thrifty cook is to use the best of seasonal produce.

When summer herbs and vegetables begin to emerge from the ground it is the ideal time to enjoy them, knowing they are at their freshest and best.

Plus, they will be at their most cost-effective as opposed to imported produce out of season.

We have three salads today, inspired by what has been growing in the herb pots and from having a wander around the local vege store.

All the ingredients are easy to find and inexpensive, proving it doesn't take much to create a tasty and vibrant healthy meal without needing too much dosh.

Kale is a vegetable with a bit of a bad reputation by those from farming backgrounds. It was traditionally fed to cows because of its high iron content, and never really eaten by humans. But now we know differently.

Simply heat a little olive oil, salt and pepper, a squeeze of lemon and a clove of crushed garlic then add the chopped kale and wilt - keep on the heat until a little crispy.

It is delicious, very healthy and tastes great paired with slices of grilled eggplant, beetroot, pumpkin and some white beans. Drizzle with a garlic mustard vinaigrette then add a few parsley leaves.

Capsicums are nearing their peak now, so the quality is good and the prices are coming down. Roast a few cashew nuts then combine with tinned tuna, brown rice, diced tomato and capsicum, loads of fresh mint and celery, then make up a simple soy dressing. Serve with wedges of lemon.

Heating a barbecue to grill all the vegetables at once saves on time and power. Just make sure you put the vegetables on first that take the longest cooking time.

Baby carrots will take about 10 minutes on a grill, depending on their size, to be lovely and golden. Season and sprinkle with lemon thyme. Add grilled cherry or grape tomatoes, slices of avocado, which are perfect right now, and then serve with some toasted rye sourdough on the side.

Simply squish the tomatoes and smear the avocado then season with plenty of salt and pepper. Top with a grilled baby carrot or two and a sprinkle of lemon thyme.

These are charming summer flavours which will leave you satisfied and with the added bonus of some spare cash in your pocket for other treats.


Chef's tip

When walking around the vege section, buy whatever looks the freshest.

All seasonal vegetables at this time of year can be sliced then grilled with a little oil until tender. Adding white beans or tuna provides more protein.

A tasty dressing with fresh herbs always lifts a salad out of the ordinary.

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