Nature’s bounty

With so much on offer in the garden over the warmer months, it’s easy to run up a surplus of all manner of fruit and vege, chef Bevan Smith writes.

It makes sense to squirrel away as much spare produce as time or space allows, but if you have a few gooseberry bushes, blackcurrants or zucchini plants, it is all too easy to find yourself with an embarrassment of riches.

Open roast tarts are always a crowd pleaser when friends drop around unexpectedly and are a fabulous way to make use of all manner of stone fruit and berries.

Today, I am using gooseberries, but switch it up any way you like; peaches or plums are another of my favourites. The pastry is one of the easiest there is to make, but there are a couple of rules. Use ice-cold water and cold cubed butter and you can’t go wrong.

Mixed berry jam is a great way to use up odds and ends as they accumulate, fresh or frozen. You can use any ratio, but the addition of blackcurrants makes for a superbly dark and velvety jam that sets without a hitch due to the naturally high pectin they contain. Too good to just put on the shelf.

Zucchini is one of my favourite vegetables. Shaved raw, roasted or grilled I just can’t get enough, so imagine my delight when one of the boys in the kitchen made good use of some oversized examples and made zucchini baba ghanoush.

The wonderful smokiness you associate with baba ghanoush normally comes from the charring of eggplant, but this is virtually identical with zucchini and simply sublime with grilled fish or meat. Not everyone can grow eggplant, but most of us can grow zucchini.

Make this once and you will understand why Middle Eastern food is so delicious.

Enough said. There are plums that need picking and apparently I am the picker! Happy harvesting.

Many berry jam

Makes 9-10 300ml jars


500g strawberries, hulled and halved
500g raspberries
500g blackberries or boysenberries
500g blackcurrants, stalks removed
2kg white sugar


Place the berries with half a cup of water in a large pot over a gentle heat until the berries become soft and start to break down.

Increase the heat to high and bring the fruit to the boil.

Add sugar and boil as rapidly as possible, stirring often with a large wooden spoon.

The jam will be set when it comes off the spoon in slow, fat drips that come together at the end of the spoon (usually 5-6 minutes).

Carefully pour into hot sterilised jars and seal with clean, dry, sterilise jar lids.

Zucchini baba ghanoush with roast lamb, tahini yoghurt and roast pinenuts

Serves 10


3 500g zucchini
1 cup of natural unsweetened yoghurt
2 tsp tahini paste
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper 
3-4 200g lamb rump
3 Tbsp roasted pinenuts


Place an old cake-cooling rack or smoking rack over a gas flame and char the zucchini until it is completely blackened.

Remove from the flame and allow to cool completely. Remove as much of the burnt skin as possible and place flesh to one side.

Put the yoghurt, tahini paste and garlic into a food processor and pulse until well combined. Remove half the tahini yoghurt and set aside for later.

Add the zucchini flesh to the processor along with two-thirds of the olive oil and lemon juice, then process into a smooth puree. Season to taste and set baba ghanoush aside.

Preheat oven to 200degC. Lightly season the lamb and in a hot heavy-based ovenproof frying pan, colour the lamb nicely on all sides in a little of the remaining olive oil. 

Place lamb in the oven and continue to cook for a further 5-6 minutes or until medium rare. Remove from oven and take out of the pan to rest in a warm place.

Meanwhile, slice the remaining zucchini into 1cm thick lengths and cook in the pan with the remaining olive oil over a high heat, until nicely coloured and tender.

Spoon the baba ghanoush into the centre of four plates. Place roast zucchini on top.

Carve the lamb and place on top of the zucchini. Spoon over the tahini yoghurt, any resting juices, scatter with pinenuts and serve immediately.  

Open roast gooseberry tart

Serves 10


1 open tart pastry (see below)
1.5kg gooseberries, topped and tailed
1¼ cups caster sugar
½ cup cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract 1 Tbsp butterextra
2 Tbsp caster sugarfor sprinkling

Open tart pastry

250g plain flour
2 Tbsp caster sugar
180g unsalted fridge-coldbutter, cut into cubes
5 Tbsp ice-cold, or at least fridge-cold, water


Preheat oven to 180degC.

Place gooseberries in a large bowl with half the sugar, cornflour and vanilla and toss together lightly.

Place filling in the centre of the pastry, leaving a 6cm border. Fold pastry edges inwards towards the centre of the tart.

Dot the top of the filling with butter, brush pastry with water, then sprinkle remaining sugar over the tart.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes before serving.

Open tart pastry

Combine flour, sugar and butter in a food processor until mix resembles breadcrumbs.

Continue processing and add just enough cold water until the pastry starts to come together.

Turn out on to a lightly-floured benchtop and work into a ball.

Roll pastry into a 40cm circle then transfer to a baking paper-lined oven tray.

- Bevan and Monique Smith own  Riverstone Kitchen, runner-up Best Regional Restaurant in the 2014 Cuisine Good Food Awards.

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