Darina Allen's summery dishes of strawberry ice cream, risotto and broad beans

These summery dishes can be put together quickly and eaten family style, says Darina Allen.

I made the most delicious salad for lunch today. Even in this weather I love to cook but of course I want more summery dishes and ones that can be put together quickly and eaten family style.

The elderflowers are in full bloom in the hedgerows all over the countryside. 

Pick them quickly while they are still hard and green, soon they will be over-ripe for tarts, pies, and compotes but one can of course leave them to ripen on the bushes to enjoy a fat dessert of gooseberries in July.

We already have an abundance of courgettes; all parts of this plant are edible. Not sure if you tried courgettes raw like the Romans do, but we love a carpaccio of zucchini with slivers of cheese, some flaky sea salt, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. 

There are lots of variations you can do, some chopped anchovies add a salty note and the blossoms add a splash of flamboyant colour.

Broad beans are maybe my favourite summer vegetable of all but they must be absolutely freshly picked. They seem to go mealy in a very short time. 

I cook them in well-salted water, toss them in a little extra virgin olive oil or a blob of butter, and then sit there in a corner enjoying an entire bowlful popping one bean at a time out of the outer skin with my teeth.

Alternatively, I make this delicious broad bean puree and slather it over grilled bread — fresh and gorgeous.

They are also delicious in a pasta or risotto; try this recipe where we use them both whole and pureed. 

The Ballycotton plaice are also beautiful again. One of the loveliest ways to eat a fat summer plaice is to bake it whole on the bone, peel off the skin and then serve it with a little fresh herb and ginger butter spooned over the top — the essence of summer.

Irish strawberries are now in season, how about some strawberry ice cream or this delicious recipe strawberry and rose petal tart.

Risotto with Broad Beans, Green Asparagus and Chervil

Darina Allen's summery dishes of strawberry ice cream, risotto and broad beans

Risotto is my all-time comfort food and this version is quite simply a feast and a celebration of early summer. 

I like to save the last of the Irish asparagus tips and some chervil to sprinkle over the top just before serving.

Serves 8

  • 450g broad beans
  • 8 stalks green asparagus
  • 40g butter
  • 115g onion chopped
  • 400g Carnaroli, Vilano Nano or Arboria rice
  • 1.7-2L homemade chicken stock
  • 80ml white wine
  • 25g (freshly grated Parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablesp chervil, coarsely chopped or in little sprigs

Blanch and refresh the beans.

Bring 300ml water to the boil, add ½ teaspoon salt, the broad beans and cook for 2 or 3 minutes or until almost tender, drain and refresh in cold water. Slip the beans out of their shells. 

Cook the asparagus for just 4 or 5 minutes. Do this while cooking the risotto if you can keep your eye on several pots at the same time.

To start the risotto, bring the chicken stock to the boil at the back of the cooker and keep at a low simmer. 

Melt 25g of butter in a saucepan, add the finely chopped onion and cook over a medium heat until soft but not coloured, add the rice and a generous pinch of salt. 

Stir the rice over the heat for a minute or two, or until it turns translucent, then increase the heat and add the dry white wine. 

When the wine has evaporated, add a couple of ladles full of stock, stir and reduce the heat to medium, keep stirring and as soon as the liquid has been almost absorbed, add another ladle full and so on, stirring all the time. 

After about 12 minutes, add the beans, and continue to ladle in more stock as it is absorbed. 

Taste the rice after about 5 minutes, it should be just cooked, stir in the remainder of the butter, freshly grated Parmesan and the asparagus sliced into 1¼ inch pieces at an angle. 

Add a little more stock if necessary, the risotto should be soft and loose. Taste and correct the seasoning. 

Serve immediately in hot bowls with more Parmesan to sprinkle over the top.

Broad Beans on Pan-Grilled Sourdough

We love young broad beans on warm chargrilled bread, I sometimes serve this as a nibble with an aperitif but it also makes a wonderful first course.

Serves 2 as a first course/Serves 4 with an aperitif

  • 4 slices sourdough bread white bread, 8mm thick
  • 1 clove garlic peeled
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 peeled clove of garlic
  • 110g really fresh small raw broad beans, blanched and refreshed, weighed when shelled
  • sea salt
  • a squeeze of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 –4 fresh mint leaves
  • 3– 4 fresh basil leaves
  • a generous tablespoon of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  • A rough stone pestle and mortar

Blanch and refresh the beans. Peel.

First make the topping. Pound the peeled clove of garlic with a little sea salt in the pestle and mortar or crush finely. Add the broad beans and continue to pound to a coarse puree. 

Add the mint and basil leaves, continue until they are incorporated. 

Finally add the parmesan and extra virgin olive oil. Taste and correct the seasoning. 

Heat a pan grill on a high flame until very hot. 

Char grill the bread on both sides. Rub each side with a cut clove of garlic, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. 

Spread some of the broad bean over the hot grilled bread, grate a dusting of parmesan on top, and serve immediately.

To blanch broad beans – blanch the broad beans in boiling salted water for 1-2 minutes. 

Drain and refresh under cold running water. Slip the beans out of the shells, discard the shells.

Darina’s Strawberry Ice-Cream

Darina Allen's summery dishes of strawberry ice cream, risotto and broad beans

Serves 6-8

  • 900g very ripe strawberries
  • freshly squeezed juice of ½ lemon
  • freshly squeezed juice of ½ orange
  • 200g castor sugar
  • 300ml water
  • 150ml whipped cream
  • Fresh Strawberry Sauce
  • 400g strawberries
  • 50g icing sugar
  • lemon juice


  • Fresh mint leaves

Dissolve the sugar in the water, boil for 7-10 minutes, leave to cool. 

Purée the strawberries in a food processor or blender, sieve. 

Add the freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice to the cold syrup. Stir into the purée, fold in the whipped cream. 

Freeze immediately preferably in a sorbietere. Store in a covered plastic box in the freezer and eat within a couple of days.

To make the strawberry sauce, clean and hull the strawberries, add to the blender with sugar and blend. 

Strain, taste and add lemon juice if necessary. 

Pour over scoops of strawberry gelato and garnish with some fresh mint leaves.

Puff Pastry Strawberry Galette

A galette doesn’t rely as much on the consistency of oven heat as a tart, where you want the heat to be perfectly even all over. 

Here the pastry needs to be perfect, as does the quality of fruit you are using.

We’ve made galettes with just about every fruit going, from pears and strawberries to plums and rhubarb, so do experiment with whatever fruits you have going and see what happens.

Serves 8–12

For the pastry

  • 375g (13oz) plain flour
  • 50g (2oz) cornflour
  • 200g (7oz) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) dice
  • 100g (3½oz) caster sugar
  • 60g (2½oz) crème fraîche
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • beaten egg, to glaze

For the filling

  • 1kg (2¼lb) strawberries
  • 100g (3½oz) caster sugar
  • a splash of rose water
  • handful of crushed pistachios
  • crème fraiche to serve

First make the pastry.

Tip the flour and cornflour into a food processor and add the diced butter. 

Pulse until you have a coarse crumb texture — you want to have small clumps of butter visible through the flour.

Add the remaining pastry ingredients (except the beaten egg) and pulse briefly to combine, adding a dash of cold water if needed to bring it together into a dough. 

Don’t overwork the dough, as you don’t want all the butter fully combined.

Tip out on to a work surface, pat into a ball and wrap in cling film. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, make the filling.

Quarter your apples and remove the core. Use a mandoline slicer to thinly slice the apples and put into a mixing bowl. 

Add the sugar, lemon juice, prunes and hazelnuts and give it a good mix with your hands. Leave to macerate at room temperature until needed.

Once your pastry is chilled preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Lay a large sheet of parchment paper on to a work surface and dust with flour. 

Place the pastry on to the parchment and with a floured rolling pin, roll the pastry out to a circle approximately 35–40cm (14-16 inches) in diameter and 3mm (1/8 inch) thick. The pastry will be quite soft so take care.

Tip the filling along with the juices on to the pastry and spread out, leaving a 5cm border all around. 

Fold the border over the fruit filling — this process doesn’t need to be too neat and if the pastry tears just pinch it back together. Remember this is rustic galette; it wouldn’t sit right in a French patisserie, but that’s the point. 

Once you’ve folded in the edges, brush them with beaten egg and sprinkle with a little brown sugar.

Slide the galette, still on the parchment paper, on to a baking tray and bake in the oven for 30–35 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is cooked.

Serve hot with crème fraîche or ice cream.

Clare Lattin and Tom Hill from Duck Soup (LitFest 2017)

Hot tips

Slow Food Galway will visit Strokestown Park and Irish National Famine Museum in Co Roscommon on Sunday, June 18. The extensive six acres of walled gardens include a herbaceous border, rose garden, peach house, vegetable and herb garden. Tickets are €40 and include the bus, lunch and entry fee to Stokestown Park. 

Contact Kate on 087 9312333 for more information.

East Cork Slow Food event: Joanna Blythman, investigative food journalist and thorn in the flesh of the processed food industry and supermarkets, will give a talk on The Big Food Lie at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Tuesday, June 13, for the East Cork Slow Food Convivium. Tickets are €6 for Slow Food members and €8 for non members. 

Tel: 021 4646785 or slowfoodeastcork@gmail.com 

Date for the Diary: Cork Summer Show 2017 in the Curraheen Showgrounds from June 17-18. A varied programme of agriculture, food, music, home, garden, crafts, equipment, animal husbandry, entertainment, and retail trade stands. Always a brilliant day out for all the family. Children under 12 go free. 


Fermented Salami: If you are in West Cork, check out the Skibbereen Farmers Market on Saturday morning and Schull Farmers Market on Sunday — don’t miss Fingal Ferguson’s fermented salami and Mrs Love’s jams.


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