Thickly sliced tomatoes, thinly sliced red onions, a generous splash of olive oil and balsamic and a scattering of flaky sea salt: this is the summer dish I could not live without.
It is the perfect accompaniment to simply cooked meat, chicken or fish.
It is a meal in itself with crusty bread and soft cheese, summing up everything that is joyful about eating in warm weather: ripe seasonal ingredients, uncomplicated flavours and minimal planning and preparation.
I cherish that effortlessness in the kitchen.
A rotation of salads, open sandwiches, simple pastas and a weekly barbecue keep me well fed at this time of year.
Peel the bananas and cut down the middle. Place each split banana on a piece of foil and sprinkle them with two-thirds of the sugar. Press the halves together and sprinkle the remaining sugar on top. Drizzle over the rum
And there are always a few tubs of good ice cream in the freezer.
I rarely make my own as there are such good supermarket options available (Hackney Gelato from Ocado is a favourite), but I do like to add toppings.
Fresh berries are the obvious choice, usually with a little crushed shortbread or some chopped toasted pecans for crunch.
A weekly barbecue keeps me well fed at this time of year
If I have guests I’ll whip up a hot chocolate sauce (150g chopped dark chocolate, 200ml single cream, 2 tbsp sugar and a knob of butter melted in a pan with a splash of boiling water to loosen).
If I have a barbecue on the go, then I may char some halved peaches or apricots – or perhaps make this week’s recipe, rum-baked bananas, which was sent in by reader Alexandra Cudars.
This is a classic – and absolutely delicious – summer dessert that can be cooked in the oven or the dying embers of a barbecue
£1.15* A PERSON
If cooking in the oven, preheat to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Tear 6 squares of kitchen foil.
Peel the bananas and cut down the middle. Place each split banana on a piece of foil and sprinkle them with two-thirds of the sugar. Press the halves together and sprinkle the remaining sugar on top. Drizzle over the rum.
Bring the edges of the foil together and seal into little parcels, leaving space for the air to circulate inside.
Open the parcels then serve the hot bananas and their cooking juices with a scoop of vanilla ice cream
Either bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or place in the embers of a dying barbecue and cook for the same amount of time.
Open the parcels then serve the hot bananas and their cooking juices with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
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*THIS COST ASSUMES YOU ALREADY HAVE SOME BASIC STORE-CUPBOARD INGREDIENTS. PRICES TAKEN FROM ASDA AND CORRECT AT TIME OF GOING TO PRESS.