Autumn/ Lunches & Light Suppers/ Summer/ Suppers, Dinners & Main Courses


Last week I started my response to the Supermarket Siesta challenge and I have to say, everything about it talks to my desire to move away from (my) mindless on line ordering or wandering in a supermarket. As I said also last week, I am not going to declare supermarkets instruments of the devil (although I can think of a couple of brands that do approach that status), but I am finding using and Borough Market (to name but two), does make me plan meals better and think more clearly about the seasonality, balance, flavours and economy of what we’re eating.

Yes, it takes a bit of time a couple of times a week to do that planning but in truth, it’s time I look forward to, as it allows me to think about what’s seasonal and then rummage around, either in my food library (I’m going to write about that soon) or in my head, to find solutions. Sometimes I am beguiled by something so appealing when I’m shopping that I do click or buy and then think afterwards about what I’m going to make! On reflection though, that is exactly what I do when we’re in Italy, so interestingly, I am moving my UK habits closer to those I have in Italy.

Our menu for Sunday looked like this:


Jersey milk yogurt with blueberries
Sourdough toast with blackberry and gin jam

Lunch we had out, so doesn’t count here


Piedmont peppers (will write this up soon)
Salmon fillet wrapped in Parma ham with bay leaves (ditto!)
Chargrilled golden zucchini with lemon, fennel seed and basil dressing
Spiced apples (recipe elsewhere on this site) with creme fâiche

My bill for this lot from non-supermarket suppliers was £27.20 and the same on-line service that I used last week for comparison came to £34.91. I have not included store cupboard ingredients such as anchovies, fresh basil or garlic as I have those to hand all the time. If it’s not basil season, it will be thyme or rosemary, both of which obligingly supply the kitchen all year round.

The most remarkable price differentials came with the Sourdough bread (£3.20 versus £5.33 weight for weight), two organic red peppers (£2.00 versus £6.00) and the San Marzano tomatoes (£2.70 versus £3.99 by weight). I used lovely for some items and others came from traders within Borough Market.

Also, I had made enough Piedmont Peppers and Chargrilled Zucchini for us to have them for lunch on Monday with bread and a bit of goat’s cheese.

Chargrilled Golden Zucchini with Lemon, Fennel Seed and Basil Dressing

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 30 minutes (ish)


  • 500g golden zucchini, or indeed any fresh looking ones you can get
  • olive oil for brushing
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly squeezed juice of half a large lemon
  • quarter teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • fresh basil leaves



If the zucchini are quite large, the skins can be a bit tough so just scrape a vegetable peeler down it to give a striped effect


Dispose of the stalk and slice into 2 - 3ml thick slices


You can either produce “coins” (hence the word “zucchini” in the first place), or on the diagonal, or even lengthways; do what pleases you


Brush them with olive oil but don’t soak them


Heat a griddle pan until hot but not smoking - you’re dealing with delicate zucchini here, not a chest-beating steak


Add a few slices at a time but don’t over-crowd the pan or you’ll start to get too much steam kicking up


Once each slice has nice clear stripes, turn them over; for me, they are then done when they have gone floppy and have good chargrilling marks on them


Remove to a platter and spoon over the dressing, building up the platter in layers as the zucchini become readyFor the dressing:


Crush the garlic with sea salt under the blade of a knife and put into a small bowl


Gently crush the fennel seeds, just enough to allow the fragrance to release more easily and add to the bowl


Pour in the extra virgin olive oil and whisk briskly


Add lemon juice to your taste; I quite like a lemony sharpness to counteract the smoothness of the grilled vegetable and we were having it with salmon which is a rich fish


Add freshly milled black pepper to taste


Once you have layered and dressed all your zucchini, finish with torn basil and a final flourish of oil


You can also include aubergines in with this and I do still salt and drain them first. Habit, I suppose, as we are told that modern varieties aren't bitter. Slice them a little thicker, say 3 - 4 ml, and they need a little longer on the griddle, too. Later in the autumn, I add a little ground cumin to the dressing, if I am using aubergine for a warm flavour. Finely chopped chilli also works well here in the dressing.

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