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Top Tips for Seasonal Eating in September - Tomatoes, Peppers and Beetroot

At Demuths Cookery School, seasonality is the most important factor in choosing what to cook and which recipes to make on our courses. In late summer we are spoilt for choice as there is a bounty of locally grown vegetables to choose from.Tomatoes, Peppers and Beetroot are all at their glorious peak right now so it is the perfect time to make some of my best-loved recipes, all of which are stunningly colourful and perfect for late-summer suppers on balmy evenings.

Here are my top tips for seasonal eating in September!

TOMATOES

I first made my recipe for stuffed tomatoes on our French cookery holiday and it is best made with large ripe but still firm tomatoes. The red rice comes from the Carmargue and is a wholegrain variety with a nutty bite to it.

Although they are stars of the season at the moment, tomatoes are one of my most indispensable ingredients all year round. They are at their best in the summer, however, so now is the time to buy plenty and make them into passata (tomato sauce) which can be frozen, or make tomato chutney. When bought out of season, tomatoes tend to be tasteless, so in the colder months I use passata, tinned or dried tomatoes in my cooking, which have more flavour and natural sweetness as they were picked at peak ripeness.

These bright red fruits are not only delicious, they are something of a superfood too, containing vitamin C and lycopene, which has been linked to preventing cancer. But most of the goodness from tomatoes is in the seeds and juices, so do try to avoid deseeding if possible, to enjoy the full impact of the tomato’s nutritional content and flavour!PEPPERS

PEPPERS

When red peppers are ripe, plentiful and cheap, my oven roasted red pepper soup is the ideal dish to showcase the deep flavour and richness of this versatile vegetable, and it’s equally delicious served hot or cold, depending on the occasion or the weather.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Peppers are available in a rainbow of colours, which vary depending on variety and ripeness. Green peppers can be quite bitter and tangy and for this reason I don’t roast them. Yellow and orange peppers can be roasted, but if you are looking for a dramatic colour in your finished dish, red peppers are my top choice. When roasted, they are deliciously sweet.

BEETROOT

A dish traditionally made with roasted red pepper is muhammara, but I like to make it with beetroot for its vibrant purple colour and robust flavour. Try to buy fresh beetroot with the leaves still attached: the leaves are edible and very tasty. Baby leaves can be eaten raw in salad and larger ones cooked like spinach. With apples also ripening right now you could also have a go at my recipe for Beetroot and Apple Latkes - delicious with a yoghurt mint dip and perfect for a late summer supper!

Beetroot and Apple Latkes

Photos by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

You can buy beetroot all year round, but a fresh new crop of beetroot is becoming available now. Young, fresh beetroot is delicious grated raw into salads, thinly sliced with a mandolin for ceviche, made into borsch or roasted with cumin and pomegranate syrup.

Beetroot should not be peeled before cooking, because the colour will leach out. You can either roast them or boil them, and although it takes longer, I prefer to roast beetroot as this concentrates the natural sugars. To roast, simply wrap unpeeled beetroot in foil and pop in the oven for 1–2 hours, depending on their size, until they feel slightly soft. Leave to cool and then peel. If you prefer the quicker method of boiling, cook them whole in plenty of water for about 45–60 minutes, until the skin begins to break away from the root and the skin wrinkles. Cool the beetroot under cold water and peel off the skin. Some people don’t like preparing beetroot as the colour stains hands and clothes, but the flavour is worth the extra effort!

There are many different-coloured beetroot being grown in the UK now and it’s worth trying them, especially the pink-and-white-striped Italian ‘Chioggia’ variety.

Beetroot Varieties

Do you have any September seasonal recipes to share? Leave a comment below or come and talk to us on social media - we love chatting about vegetarian food!

If you are inspired to cook using the best seasonal ingredients and you want to find out more do join us for one of our cookery courses, packed full of ideas, recipes and tips - we look forward to seeing you!

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