Tright here was a blissfully summery dinner on the desk this week. A salmon pie, the pastry crisp, the filling gentle and creamy – a combination of spinach, salmon and crème fraîche. The pie was adopted by a dessert of honey-sweetened gooseberries and crisp meringues with centres like marshmallow. It was the primary night meal within the backyard this yr, and was memorable for each its seasonality and ease.

I dearly love a fish pie, topped with a thick layer of buttery mash, a coulibiac, too, with the fish wrapped inside a pastry crust, however a potato-topped model feels heavy and unseasonal and I don’t all the time have time for such marathon cooking (bake the fish, make the sauce, peel the spuds, make the mash… you get my drift). So, this time, a light-weight and summery pie made with wafers of filo pastry to supply distinction to the creamy pink and inexperienced filling, the entire thing made within the time it takes to peel and mash the potatoes of a conventional pie.

There’s little I like greater than the primary gooseberry crumble of summer season. The coarse sugary rubble on high of tart, refreshing berries beneath. However I additionally like them cooked underneath the grill, so that they toast right here and there. They want a splosh of candy juice – this time I cooked them in elderflower cordial and honey, then spooned the berries and their juices over particular person meringues: a kind of pavlova with out the blanket of whipped cream.

Salmon and spinach pie

As a lot as I really like a fish pie, they are often fairly a process to place collectively. This one is simple, with a delightful crispness to the crust to distinction the gentle and creamy filling. When cooking the leeks, I like to melt them over a low warmth, with a bit of greaseproof paper on high and a lid. The result’s leeks that steam in their very own candy juices, with out browning. Serves 4

salmon 400g
leek 1, giant
butter 40g
peas 250g podded weight, contemporary or frozen
crème fraîche 250g
parsley 3 tbsp, chopped
dill 3 tbsp, chopped
lemon 1, finely grated zest
spinach 400g
filo pastry 4 sheets
melted butter 50g

Set the oven at 200C/fuel mark 6. Line a baking dish or roasting tin with foil, place the salmon items on high, season evenly, trickle with somewhat olive oil, then bake for 15-20 minutes till evenly cooked.

Trim the leek, discarding the basis and high of the leaves. Reduce into 1cm thick items, then wash completely in chilly water and shake dry.

Soften the butter in a deep saucepan, add the leek, cowl with a circle of greaseproof paper, cowl with a lid, then prepare dinner over a low to average warmth till they’re gentle however not browned.

Add the peas to the leeks and prepare dinner for two minutes, then stir within the crème fraîche and season with salt and black pepper. Stir within the herbs and lemon zest.

Wash the spinach and place it, nonetheless moist, in a medium-sized pan over a excessive warmth, cowl with a lid and steam for a few minutes. Flip the leaves over, cowl and steam once more for a minute or two till the leaves have relaxed. Take away from the warmth, drain, then squeeze virtually dry and roughly chop. Stir into the leeks and peas.

Break the salmon into giant, juicy flakes and add to the leeks. Stir with out crushing the fish.

Place a bit of filo pastry on the bottom of an oblong metallic baking dish, about 30cm x 20cm, then brush with melted butter, lay a second on high, then brush with extra butter. Switch the salmon filling on high of the pastry, then 2 extra items of pastry and melted butter. Bake for 20-25 minutes till golden.

Grilled gooseberries and lemon zest meringues

Pavlova with a twist: grilled gooseberries and lemon zest meringues.
Pavlova with a twist: grilled gooseberries and lemon zest meringues. {Photograph}: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

You possibly can bake as an alternative of grill the gooseberries for those who choose. They make a superb breakfast dish this manner, too. Within the brief time they’re in season, I prepare dinner a pan of them as soon as every week, to eat with yoghurt and oats within the morning. It’s price remembering that gooseberries are one of many few fruits that freeze effectively. I hold a wholesome inventory of them in containers within the freezer. This makes extra meringues than you will have. They are going to hold for just a few days in a plastic storage field. Serves 4 (with meringues for later)

For the meringues:
egg whites 4, giant
white wine vinegar 1 tsp
caster sugar 200g
lemon 1, small, finely grated zest

For the gooseberries:
gooseberries 400g
honey 1 tbsp
elderflower cordial 3 tbsp

Put the egg whites within the bowl of a meals mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, then beat till stiff and frothy. Decrease the pace and add the vinegar and sugar, about 50g a time, solely including extra when the final load has been whisked in. When all of the sugar has been added, hold whisking till stiff and shiny (use a hand whisk for those who choose).

Finely grate the zest from the lemon, then fold into the crushed meringue. Set the oven at 120C/fuel mark 1. Line a baking sheet with parchment, then place 1 giant spoonful of the meringue combination on to the parchment, leaving room round every. They gained’t unfold a lot, however want the room to change into crisp throughout. Bake the meringues for 60-90 minutes till crisp.

To bake the gooseberries: set the oven at 200C/fuel mark 6. Take away the stalks and flowers from the gooseberries, drop the fruit right into a baking dish, then add the honey and the elderflower cordial and stir to cowl the berries. Bake for about 25 minutes till the berries are tender.

Put the berries into serving dishes and add a meringue to every, spooning the juices excessive.

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