Summer eating, should be easy-going and relaxed – food you can cook in advance, then eat at room temperature. But it can still be special. Sear a few duck breasts ahead of time, freeze some watermelon and whiz it into creamy ice-cream, and you have a dinner that's as chilled out as you are.
Crisp-skinned duck with lentil, broccoli and walnut salad
Seared duck breast is sliced and served – pink and tender – with a chilled-out salad of lentils, broccoli, radish and walnuts speckled with poppy seeds.
4 duck breasts
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
300g raw lentils, rinsed
1 red onion, halved and finely sliced
150g broccoli florets
2 or 3 pink radishes, finely sliced
lebanese cucumber, cut into small chunks
2 tbsp walnuts, toasted
handful wild rocket or baby spinach leaves
1 tsp poppy seeds
For the dressing
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red wine or sherry vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1. Combine lentils, half the sliced onion and one litre water in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 25 to 30 minutes, until lentils are tender, and drain.
2. Using a sharp knife, score the skin of the duck in a criss-cross pattern. Rub sea salt and pepper into the skin and set aside.
3. In a dry pan, sear the duck skin-side down over gentle heat for 10 minutes, until the fat melts and the skin is crisp. Pour off the fat (cool and refrigerate for future use), turn the breasts and cook for five minutes or until just firm to the touch. Set aside to rest.
4. Pulse the broccoli florets once or twice in a food processor to break them up. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a bowl. Add the rocket leaves, broccoli, cucumber, radish, walnuts and remaining sliced onion and toss well. Serve with the sliced duck and scatter with poppy seeds.
Chill-out tip: Skip cooking your own lentils if it's too hot, and open a can.
Photo: William Meppem
Creamy watermelon ice-cream slices
Let the freezer do the work: first, freeze watermelon overnight, then turn it into a creamy two-ingredient ice-cream on a biscuit base. Refreeze it and it's ready to go.
1kg watermelon flesh (seedless), chopped
300g sweetened condensed milk
For the base
250g sweet biscuits (I used Chocolate Ripple)
150g butter, melted
1. Arrange the chopped watermelon on a baking tray lined with baking paper, and freeze overnight.
2. To make the biscuit base, whiz the biscuits in a food processor, then add the melted butter and whiz until fine-crumbed. Press into the base of a straight-sided lamington tin lined with baking paper, and place in the freezer to firm up.
3. Remove the watermelon from the freezer, soften at room temperature for five minutes, then whiz in a food processor with the sweetened condensed milk for two minutes until smooth.
4. Pour the watermelon mixture over the biscuit base and freeze overnight. Remove from the tin, cut into slices or squares and serve immediately.
Chill-out tip: Serve with a small, chilled wedge of watermelon or a spoonful of berries.