I’ll be the first to admit my gardening skills are a bit hit and miss, but with some good advice and help from friends and professionals alike, I’ve managed to grow some great things this summer that have even survived the onslaughts from slugs, snails and all their outdoor friends.
The thing that gives me the biggest thrill to grow in the summer are lettuces and I especially like to grow radicchio since it’s not readily available in the shops and picking a whole radicchio always gives me a thrill. Radicchio is a beautiful purple leaf with whitish veins; it has a bitter and spicy taste, which mellows when it is grilled or roasted, as a nod to late summer / early autumn it pairs beautifully with pumpkin and is also great in risottos.
The Roman author and philosopher Pliny the elder claimed radicchio was useful as a blood purifier and an aid for insomniacs and today bitter leaves are renowned for their health benefits.
How to make a lentil, mint, courgette and feta salad with radicchio
I’ve just used it to throw together a delicious salad with puy lentils, mint, courgettes and feta. Luckily, my mint has been rife so I’m using it everywhere.
To make the salad, cook the lentils by covering them with cold water and bringing them up to the boil with a garlic clove and a couple of bay leaves. Don’t add salt until the end of cooking as it toughens them. Meanwhile, roughly dice some courgette and soften in a separate pan with some finely diced garlic and lemon zest. Drain the lentils when they are cooked, about 30 minutes. Then dress with a lemony vinaigrette and add the courgettes, some roughly chopped mint, the radicchio and feta. This can be served cold or warm, if you have just prepared it. Either way, it’s delicious and fresh!