In season mid-autumn: Lemons, thyme, capsicums
Lemons will last for about one week at room temperature, and for up to two weeks in the fridge. To keep a stock of lemon juice, freeze fresh juice in ice-cube trays. The ice cubes will keep their flavour for up to three months.
Choose firm, bright yellow fruit which, when you gently roll your finger over their skin, gives a fresh citrus aroma. The best lemons for zesting are those with a thicker, knobbly skin. For a lemon wedge garnish or for juicing, choose lemons with a smooth, thin skin.
- Add lemon zest to pasta with tuna, salmon or sardines.
- Squeeze lemon juice into pan at the last minute when pan-frying fish or chicken to make a lemony glaze.
- Warm lemons in the microwave for 15 seconds or roll a room-temperature lemon on the counter before use to break down the flesh fibres and get the most juice out of the fruit.
Sultana, almond and lemon muffins
This herb is a member of the mint family. Thyme has a sweet, earthy flavour and is often part of a bouquet garni — a combination of herbs used to flavour stocks, stews and soups.
Wrap fresh thyme in a damp paper towel and store in a perforated bag in the fridge. It will last for nearly a week.
Wash the grey-green coloured leaves then use the sprig whole or remove leaves from the stem by holding stem at top and running a thumb and index finger down the length of the stalk.
- Thyme works well with Mediterranean vegetables eg. top balsamic and brown sugar roasted red onions with fresh thyme or add sprigs to a mushroom, garlic, onion, risoni capsicum filling.
- Add chopped thyme to omelettes or scrambled eggs. Thyme also complements kidney beans, pinto beans and black beans.
- Use in chicken stews and stuffings.
Chicken filo pot pie with slaw
Capsicums come in various shapes and colours. Green capsicums are a good source of vitamin C, but red and yellow capsicums are especially rich in vitamin C and are also a good source of the carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin (which can help prevent age-related macular degeneration).
Store capsicums at room temperature for three to four days or refrigerate unwashed capsicums for up to one week. Store already sliced capsicum in an airtight container for a day or two.
Choose heavy, firm capsicums with unblemished, taut, shiny, brightly-coloured skin. Avoid wrinkled capsicums or any with rattling seeds inside.
- Capsicums work well with fennel, pine nuts, olive oil, polenta, courgettes, chilli, tomato, feta cheese and parsley.
- Make your own roasted capsicums to add to salads, salsa or to enjoy as a side dish. Cook whole or in sections (removing seeds and membrane first) in a 220°C oven for about 20 minutes or until skin is blackened and blistered. Remove from oven then place in a plastic bag and seal. When cool enough to handle the skin should come away.
Grilled chicken skewers with hummus yoghurt