Sweltering Summer Food Ideas

The heat is on in summer and the best food is inspired by the hottest of cultures. Sammy and Bella share one of their favourite spicy recipes and the best fruit and veg of the season.  

Really, we should be eating seasonally all year round, and there’s no excuse in summer when a smorgasbord of the most delicious fruit and vegetables are ripe for the picking.

It’s the perfect time for Mediterranean food, whether you knock up French ratatouille (eggplant, tomatoes and red capsicum), Lebanese tabbouleh (parsley, mint, tomatoes), a green Italian medley (zucchini flowers, broadbeans) or you take inspiration from Morocco with fresh figs drizzled with honey and topped with chopped pistachios.

Fruit is wonderful eaten on its own, and it’s easy to be spoiled with the plethora of stone fruits (cherries, apricots, nectarines, plums), bananas and berries available. However, when it comes to desserts, they are most impressive when given a tropical Asian twist.  Lychees, Rambutans, pineapple, papaya, mango, and passionfruit are all at their peak and will work perfectly in a pav or even a simple fruit salad.

With all this top quality produce available and the sun shining, it’s important to keep it simple. Food is fast and fresh, light and healthy. It’s all about easy dishes that pay respect to the produce, and most importantly give you the time to enjoy the beach and sunshine with your family and friends.

Summer is also time for exotic fruits and vegetables, so it’s a great time to experiment with new fresh flavours. One of our favourites is okra. It’s most popular in American southern and Caribbean cooking, but is also quite common in Africa.  Check out our recipe below for a delicious Jamaican okra curry. We think it’s most delicious served with grilled barramundi and coconut rice. Mmmmmm!

Bella’s Jamaican Okra Curry with pan fried barra and coconut rice

Serves 4-6

For the okra curry:

  • 2 red capsicums
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin, ground
  • 1 tsp coriander seed, ground
  • 1 tsp all spice, ground
  • 1 tsp white pepper, ground
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsp dry thyme
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • ½ cup chopped tinned tomatoes
  • 200ml coconut cream
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • ½ bunch coriander
  • 500g okra
  • salt and pepper
  • For the coconut rice:
  • 1.5 cups basmati rice
  • 200ml coconut cream
  • 2 cups cold water
  • salt

For the coconut rice:

  • 1.5 cups basmati rice
  • 200ml coconut cream
  • 2 cups cold water
  • salt

For the barramundi:

  • 1kg (4 to 6) boneless and skinless barramundi fillets
  • olive oil, to fry
  1. For the curry, roughly chop the red capsicum and onion and place in a large pot along with oil on medium-high heat. Add spices and cook until onions are translucent (5-10 minutes) and spices are fragrant.
  2. Add garlic and continue to cook, stirring, for a few minutes before adding the tinned tomatoes, coconut cream and vegetable stock.
  3. Thoroughly wash the coriander, pick off the leaves and reserve for garnish. Chop the roots and stems and add to the curry.
  4. Simmer, uncovered on medium for about 20 minutes until reduced and thick. Transfer, in batches, to a blender and blend until smooth. Season to taste and return to the pot. Slice okra in half lengthways and place in curry sauce. Simmer on medium for 10-15 minutes. The sauce will thicken slightly as the
  5. For the coconut rice, place rice, coconut cream, water and seasoning in a rice cooker and cook according to manufacturers instructions.
  6. For the barramundi, season the fish on both sides. Bring a non stick fry pan to medium-high with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Cook the fish on one side until it’s 2/3 cooked and well browned. Then gently flip over to cook the other side.
  7. Serve fish with curry sauce poured over the top, garnished with the reserved coriander leaves, and coconut rice on the side.

Bella’s Guide to Summer fruits and veggies:

Summer seasonal fruits:
Berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, currants, mulberries)
Stone fruits (cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, mangoes, apricots)
melons (honeydew, rockmelon and watermelon)
lychee, rambutan
Valencia orange
Prickly pear
Dragon fruit
Summer seasonal vegetables:
beans (string beans, broadbeans, snake)
peas (garden, sugar snap, snow peas)
Radish (daikon, breakfast radish)
Reed avocadoes
Lettuce, rocket, watercress, kang kong and other Asian greens
Herbs such as basil, parsley, lemongrass, thai basil, Vietnamese hot mint
Spring onion, garlic, leeks

Do you have a question for Sammy & Bella? Ask them here 

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