Seasonal cooking in August: beans, bilberries and cauliflowers

price list
Available at the Community Garden

At certain times of the year it’s a struggle to find locally grown food. BUT NOT IN AUGUST! Even the supermarkets, which seem determined to import as much as they can from as far away as possible (with a resulting huge carbon footprint) are currently stocking Scottish-grown food. More locally, in my garden I have the following ready to pick: cauliflowers, carrots, spring onions, lettuce, beetroot, courgettes, French and runner beans, kale, swede, cucumbers, blueberries, and I’ve only just finished picking the last of the broccoli, broad beans and peas. The Community garden is even better stocked – see the list in the photograph. Most of this lovely produce is on sale (picked to order) as you may have read in a recent blog. So get along to the Garden and snap up a bargain, but be warned – it goes quickly!

I was intending to write about courgettes this month but I wrote a blog about courgettes last year so I thought I’d share a couple of recipes that use up the last of the broad beans. And one for cauliflower which is very much in season in my garden.

broad beans
Before and after


Bean, pea and pancetta risotto

broad bean risottoThis is based on a recipe for risotto primavera which I’ve adapted for this time of the year by substituting the asparagus with the first of my French beans. (I’ve also made it non-vegetarian and higher carbon by adding imported pancetta – naughty-naughty. But Scottish bacon should work.)  The recipe ingredient amounts and method on the website work well.  The only ‘tweaks’ I’ve made are to add 65 g pancetta (for two people), fried with the onions, and to change the vegetable ingredients.  For two people I used about 100 g shelled broad beans (skinned), 50 g fresh peas and 50 g chopped French beans (cooked for about 5 minutes in boiling water then blanched.)    In my experience it takes about 30 minutes before the risotto is cooked to my satisfaction since I don’t like it al dente.  A lower carbon variation to this recipe would be to use barley instead of rice, but you’d need to adjust the amount of stock.

Broad bean houmous

I was a little dubious about this recipe, which I found in a Waitrose magazine, but I had lots of broad beans to use up and thought I’d give it a go as part of a middle-eastern meal.  This recipe has the advantage that it doesn’t involve taking off the skins. I’ve made a few tweaks to the recipe, by adding tahini and roasting the cumin seeds.  Kaska has made this with a mixture of beans and fresh peas and tells me it worked well.

Ingredients: 250 g shelled broad beans, 1 garlic clove crushed, salt to taste (the amount in the original recipe makes it very salty), 1/4 tsp dry-roasted and ground cumin seeds, zest and juice of half a lemon, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp tahini (optional), toasted sesame seeds and chopped coriander to garnish (optional),

Method:  cook the beans in boiling water for 3 mins, drain and drop into cold water, then drain again when cold.  Puree in a blender with the garlic, cumin, lemon rind and juice, and oil.  Stir in the tahini, salt to taste and garnish with the sesame seeds and coriander.  Serve with slices of toasted pitta bread.

Purple cauliflower salad

pruple cauliflower saladAfter a slow start the cauliflowers are now ready to pick, so it will be cauliflower with everything for a while. Fortunately I have quite a few cauliflower recipe standbys (egg and potato pie with cauliflower, macaroni cheese with cauliflower, curried eggs and potatoes with cauliflower – you get the idea). But one thing I hadn’t tried until now was cauliflower salad. I love spicy potato salad (see my new potato blog from last year) and I also love curried cauliflower, so it occurred to me that I could use the same spicy dressing for cauliflower and it would look quite dramatic if I used purple cauliflower instead of white.  Purple cauliflower turns to a rather odd blue colour on cooking, but the salad tasted fantastic.

Ingredients (for 4):  500 g cauliflower florets cut into bite-size pieces, 2 spring onions, 50 g fresh peas, 4/5 radishes, 1 chilli (optional), coriander leaves (optional).  Dressing: 30g mayonnaise, 30 g yoghurt, 30 ml salad dressing, 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp panch phoron.

Method:  Drop the cauliflower florets into boiling salted water and cook for 3/4 minutes, then drain and cool in cold water and drain well.  Heat the oil and stir in the seeds.  Take off the heat and allow to infuse for 5 mins.  Then mix the rest of the dressing ingredients and add the seeds and oil.  Toss the cauliflower, chopped spring onions, peas and sliced radish with the dressing and garnish with the finely chopped chilli and coriander leaves.


Bilberry muffins
Bilberry muffins

August is also a good month for foraging and recently I spotted a lot of bilberries which I couldn’t resist harvesting. They were dense enough to make picking easy and between myself and my better half we picked over three quarters of a kilo in about 30 minutes, and the first thing I did with them was to make bilberry muffins, which I rustled up for a recent blogging meeting. Making muffins for the monthly blogging meetings has become a bit of a tradition so if anyone is tempted to take up blogging do contact Kaska, our blogging co-ordinator, and come along to the next meeting to sample the latest muffin experiment. The bilberry muffins were so yummy that we ate them all before I realised the photo I’d taken earlier was out of focus!

Ingredients (for 6/7 muffins):  140 g plain flour, 1/2 tbsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 65 g caster sugar, 3 tbsp oil, 1 egg, 50 g vanilla yoghurt, 75 ml milk, 75g frozen bilberries.

Method:  Sieve flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together, add sugar and frozen bilberries.  In a separate bowl mix oil, egg, yogurt and milk.  Stir into flour and put batter into 6/7 muffin cases.  Bake at 180 ºC for 25 minutes.

Bilberry pancakes
Bilberry pancakes

Bilberries are also a great addition to breakfast pancakes.  Being smaller than blueberries, they can be cooked from frozen in the batter.  I make a drop scone batter (110g self-raising flour, 1 tbsp caster sugar, a little salt, 1 egg and 150 ml milk), then scatter the blueberries (100g in total) on the top once the scone batter has been ladled into the frying pan.  This amount made 13 pancakes.

I still have a lot of bilberries to use up so I’m thinking of making bilberry gin, using the recipe for raspberry gin in my preserves blog from last year.  Another experiment will be lemon and bilberry curd.  And there should still be enough left over to add to the fruit for a summer pudding, which I know from experience is absolutely delicious – summer on a plate!



  1. I absolutely loved the broadbean and pea hummus, not least because it was so easy to make! Thanks for sharing the recipe and the ingredients:)

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