If you're eating al fresco and there's a lot of you, then "self contained" food is what you need and these scrummy stuffed pittas are just perfect for the job.
Salad leaves, saffron lamb and pitta bread
Marinated Lamb1 onion, roughly grated565g/1¼ lb lean lamb fillet, diced2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oiljuice of 1 lemonblack pepper to tastea large pinch of saffron threadsa pinch of sea salt
Final Dish200ml/7fl oz natural Greek yoghurt½ teaspoon cumin seeds150g/5½ oz mixed salad leaves, such as mizuna, rocket, baby chard, land cress and claytonia1 cucumber, peeled2 red onions, thickly sliced into rings4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil8 home-made pitta breads 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or to taste)
1 Put the grated onion in a bowl with the lamb, olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper. Grind the saffron and salt with a pestle and mortar or in a small bowl with a teaspoon, and mix into the lamb. Cover and chill for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to 3 hours.
2 Preheat an oven-top grill-pan or a barbecue to a high heat. Put the yoghurt in a mixing bowl. Using a fork, beat in 5 tablespoons cold water. Season to taste. Place the cumin seeds in a small dry frying pan. Set over a high heat and toast them, giving the pan an occasional shake. As soon as the cumin seeds smell delicious, grind to a powder, either with a pestle and mortar or under a small rolling pin. Sprinkle over the yoghurt.
3 Wash and dry the salad leaves. Rip into easy-to-eat lengths and place in a large mixing bowl. Slice the cucumber into half moons and mix into the leaves.
4 Place the red onion rings on a plate, coat in 2 tablespoons olive oil and season. Place on the hot griddle or barbecue and cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden. Tip into the salad.
5 Place the lamb chunks on the hot griddle pan. If you are using a barbecue, you may need to thread the meat on to skewers to stop it slipping through the grill bars. To serve medium rare, cook for 3 minutes, then turn and cook for a further 2–3 minutes, or until grilled to your liking. Then mix into the salad.
6 Meanwhile, warm the pitta breads in a toaster or on the edges of the barbecue. Toss the salad in the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil and season to taste. Split open the pitta breads, stuff with the lamb salad mixture and drizzle with some of the yoghurt. Serve immediately with plenty of napkins.
Recipe taken from The Great British Vegetable Cookbook by Sybil Kapoor, published by National Trust Books. Photography by Karen Thomas
Nibbles are always a winner at parties and if you've started your Big Wild Sleepout party with some games or challenges, your guests will definitely be ready to refuel.
Broad bean, feta and sage crostini
These really taste of summer and are an excellent way of using up slightly tough broad beans and slightly stale bread. You can make both the crostini and the topping in advance.
MAKES ABOUT 20 CROSTINI
½ sourdough baguette1 fat clove garlic, cut in half1–2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
BROAD BEAN TOPPING
200g/7oz shelled broad beans1 small clove garlic, finely chopped2 teaspoons finely shredded sage leaves4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil85g/3oz barrel-cured feta cheese, crumbled1–2 tablespoons lemon juicesalt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Preheat the oven to fan 180°C/gas 5. Cut the bread into about twenty 1cm/½ in thick slices. Rub with the cut clove of garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until crisp and golden. Cool on a wire rack. Once cold, store the crostini in an airtight tin if not using within a few hours.
2 To make the topping, drop the broad beans into a pan of boiling water. Return to the boil, cover and simmer for 2–3 minutes or until tender, then drain and cool under cold running water. Pop each bean out of its pale green skin to reveal the bright green inner kernel.
3 If you have a pestle and mortar, gently crush the broad bean kernels, in batches, aiming for a crumbly, rough texture rather than a smooth paste. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Put the garlic, sage and 1 tablespoon olive oil in the mortar. Gently crush and mix into the broad beans. Mix in the crumbled feta cheese. Add lemon juice to taste, along with the remaining olive oil. Season to taste. If not serving immediately, cover and chill.
4 If you don’t have a pestle and mortar, roughly crush the beans with a potato masher, and crush the garlic and sage with the back of a spoon.
5 Shortly before you’re ready to serve, bring the broad bean mixture up to room temperature and spoon on to your crostini.
Recipe taken from Simply Baking Cookbook by Sybil Kapoor, published by National Trust Books. Photography by Karen Thomas
The RSPB's Big Wild Sleepout has arrived so it's time to grab your sleeping bag, pitch your tent (or build a den!) and brush up on your night time nature id skills so you can get to know your wild neighbours a little better.
As well as spending a night under the stars to find out which creatures call your garden home, you can also raise money to help protect them. If you're sleeping out without a tent or for the first time then why not get people to sponsor you? Or you could invite your friends and family to sleepout with you by hosting a Sleepout party, then putting on a spread and asking your guests for donations in exchange for some tasty treats.
For a little inspiration for what you can cook to turn your Sleepout party into a real wild night out, chef Sybil Kapoor has very kindly shared some delicious recipes with us that are guaranteed to tantalise your taste buds. We've got seven scrummy recipes to share with you throughout the week so check in every day for the full delectable menu.
Get the party started early and invite your guests over for a spot of afternoon tea and some games and challenges around the garden. Nature scavenger hunt anyone?
Raspberry almond tart
225g/8oz rich shortcrust pastry
FRANGIPANE FILLING100g/3½ oz butter, softened100g/3½ oz caster sugarfew drops of almond extract2 medium eggs, beaten100g/3½ oz ground almonds
RASPBERRY TOPPING340g/12oz raspberries½ tablespoon icing sugar, sifted
1 Preheat the oven to fan 180°C/gas 5. Roll out the pastry and line a 20cm/8in tart tin with a removable base. Prick the pastry with a fork, line with greaseproof paper or foil and fill with baking beans. Chill for 30 minutes.
2 Bake the pastry case for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to fan 170°C/gas 4. Leave to cool slightly.
3 To make the frangipane filling, beat together the butter, sugar and almond extract until pale and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs. Finally mix in the almonds. Spoon into the cool pastry case and bake for 15–20 minutes or until the almond filling is golden and slightly risen. Don’t overcook or the filling will be too dry.
4 Remove to a wire rack. Once cool enough to handle comfortably, remove from tin. Leave until cold.
5 Cover the almond filling with a tightly packed, single layer of raspberries, all sitting pointed side up. Dust with icing sugar before serving.