The best food & drink the Cotswolds has to offer
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Eats, shoots, leaves

When the weather heats up, sometimes all you want is a great big bowl of salad. But there’s more to salad than limp lettuce and soggy cucumber. With an array of home-grown salad leaves and ingredients, summer is a great time to start exploring – grab a handful of salad leaves, add your favourite ingredients (whether it’s feta cheese, roasted beetroot, cooked chicken or bacon, nuts and seeds) and a splash of salad dressing and you’ve got a meal made in minutes…

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Little Gem lettuce

With its easy-to-pick leaves, this is a quick and simple way to add a bit of crunch to your salad. The leaves have a sweetish flavour, that develops the more layers you peel away. Much of the summer’s little gem lettuces will be UK-grown, meaning that they’re low on food miles. Delicious in a Caesar salad, the leaves are also great chargrilled on the BBQ.

Try this: create a summery salad by layering up little gem leaves and scattering with broad beans and shavings of parmesan cheese. Finish with toasted croutons and a honey-mustard dressing, such as Honey Mustard Dressing from Kitchen Garden Foods.

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Watercress

This aquatic flowering plant is a real humdinger of a leaf that adds vibrancy and flavour to salads and sandwiches. It is one of the strongest-tasting leaves available, ideal if you like a hit of pepper in your food. It is also packed with nutrients, including vitamins A, C, B, calcium, iron, niacin and plenty of antioxidants – this is seriously powerful stuff for such a small leaf!

Try this: make a superfood pesto by whizzing up a bag of watercress with toasted hazelnuts, a smidge of garlic, a drizzle of Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil from Cotswold Gold and plenty of seasoning.

Lamb’s Lettuce

This pretty-looking leaf often gets confused with watercress – that is until you try it! Unlike the powerfully pungent watercress, lamb’s lettuce sits at the other end of the heat scale, offering a pleasant, mild and creamy flavour. But just because it’s mild in taste doesn’t mean it’s lacking in the nutrient department – it’s a great source of beta-carotene, an anti-oxidant that turns into vitamin A in the body.

Try this: combine lamb’s lettuce with equally mild-flavoured cucumber and butter beans. Shake up the tempo with a drizzle of the punchy Salad Dressing from Kit’s Kitchen, affectionately known as ‘Jungle Juice’.

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Spring onions

Also known as scallions, these young onions have a much milder flavour than their fully grown counterparts. Spring onions are a versatile ingredient – you can use both the green leafy stalks and the white bulbs, either raw in salads or cooked in stir fries. As with all ingredients, the fresher the better – ours come from just three miles away from the store while the season lasts.

Try this: spring onions work wonders in Asian-inspired dishes, such as a tasty pork stir fry. Marinate diced pork loin in soy sauce, sesame oil, grated ginger and lime. Stir-fry the meat in a hot pan along with sliced pepper, green beans and spring onions. Serve with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.