Donal Skehan’s recipes for al fresco dining – wood-fired fennel salmon, steak with bubbled vegetables and a summer fruit galette

The end of summer is near and I’m doing my best to suck up the last bits of it. Swimming in the ocean while the sun is shining, pizza nights in the garden, and as many BBQs as my family can handle. While the back-to-routine feeling washes over us like a Sunday night, the food I cook is what keeps me present in season. The three recipes I’m sharing with you this week celebrate the best of late summer cooking.

A wood-fired pizza oven is an investment, but a great addition to your al fresco dining experience if you have the dedication and interest. I’ve only had one for a year and apart from pizza it’s a very effective way of preparing a range of ingredients. Smoked and flamed veggies licked, shrimp in bubbly garlic and chilli butter with crusty bread, and whole fried fish pieces all come together easily and with great results.

One of my favorite dishes is the wood-fired fennel salmon with roasted vegetables and homemade aioli. The key to flavoring the fish is making the fennel seeds and lemon salt. Give it enough time and the fish will take on the citrus and anise flavors that intensify as it cooks in the hot oven. Any leftover aioli here keeps well in a jar in the fridge for up to two days. Serve this platter style platter on the table and let everyone enjoy.

A quick summer dinner that’s packed with flavor is the quick steak here, with blistered veggies and a fish sauce dressing – If the weather is good, try cooking it on the grill rather than indoors to give it that lovely smoky flavor. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand. They’re deliciously charred alongside the prickly, salty dressing.

Last but not least, a Summer Stone Fruit Galette – a stunning dessert that’s a showstopper for al fresco dining and is ideally made with summer fruit. You can skip the frangipane if you want to simplify the recipe a bit, but it adds an irresistibly sweet and indulgent layer. The coarse puff pastry has a high butter content, so you have to bake this cake at a high temperature. If some butter spills while baking, don’t panic – it’ll still be absolutely delicious.

Wood-fired fennel salmon with roasted vegetables and aioli


Wood-fired fennel salmon with roasted vegetables and aioli. Image: Donal Skehan

Time: 1 hour 10 minutes Servings: 6

500 g baby potatoes, halved
1 large zucchini, roughly chopped
2 red onions, halved and then quartered
350 g cherry tomatoes, halved
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
Small handful of rosemary, roughly chopped
Small handful of thyme, roughly chopped
Large handful of arugula leaves, arugula
2 teaspoons chive blossoms, roughly chopped

For the Salmon Salted with Fennel:
1 tbsp sea salt
zest of ½ a lemon
1 tbsp fennel seeds
950 g salmon fillet with skin
1 tbsp olive oil

For the lemon aioli:
1 egg yolk
juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
Small handful of parsley, roughly chopped

1. Place the potatoes, zucchini, red onions, and cherry tomatoes in a large bowl. Season with plenty of salt and pepper and pour over the olive oil. Add the herbs and mix everything.
2. Transfer the vegetables to a roasting pan and place in a wood-fired pizza oven preheated to 200C/400F for 30 minutes. If you’re using a regular oven, make sure it’s preheated to 200C / 400F / gas mark 6. Turn the vegetables halfway through cooking to ensure even cooking.
3. While the vegetables are roasting, place 1 tablespoon of sea salt, lemon zest, and the fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle. Season with a pinch of black pepper and grind to a well-mixed powder.
4. Brush the fennel and salt mixture with the olive oil over the salmon. Make sure the salmon is evenly coated on both sides. Let it marinate while you prepare the lemon aioli.
5. Put the egg yolks, lemon juice and mustard in a bowl. Season with a pinch of salt and stir.
6. Place the garlic clove in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt, crush to a paste and add to the egg mixture. Stir continuously to combine and slowly pour in the oil, a few drops at a time, then gradually pour in a steady vapor. Don’t add the oil too quickly and make sure it’s fully incorporated before adding more. Stir until fully emulsified before stirring in the parsley.
7. After 30 minutes, spread the vegetables on the roasting tray and make room for the salmon. Add the salmon and return to the oven for another 20 minutes.
8. Once the salmon and vegetables are fully roasted, remove from the oven and serve on a platter, drizzle with aioli and sprinkle with arugula leaves and chive flowers. Give the salmon a final squeeze of lemon juice and enjoy!

Steak with blistered summer vegetables


Steak with blistered summer vegetables. Image: Image: Issy Croker © Hodder & Stoughton

Time: 20 minutes Servings: 4

450g sirloin steak, excess fat removed
Olive oil or peanut oil for drizzling
1 tbsp fish sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
2 baby gem salads, quartered
Bunch of spring onions, trimmed
Bunch of asparagus, woody ends broken off
2 zucchini, thinly sliced ​​lengthwise
Bunch of coriander, leaves picked
2 tablespoons roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

For the dressing:
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp powdered sugar
2 tbsp olive or peanut oil
1 tbsp sesame oil

1. Place the steak in a bowl with some oil, the fish sauce and plenty of black pepper. Put aside.
2. Place a grill pan over high heat. Toss the vegetables in a little oil, then grill on all sides for 2-3 minutes or until lightly charred. Place in a serving bowl.
3. Remove the steak from the marinade, add to the pan and grill for 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and let rest.
4. For the dressing, place the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar in a bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Then beat in the oils.
5. Cut the steak into generous slices and arrange on the grilled vegetables. Sprinkle with coriander leaves and peanuts, drizzle over the dressing and serve.

fruit galette


fruit galette. Image: Donal Skehan

Time: 1 hour 35 minutes + cooling time. For 6-8 people

250 grams of regular flour
1 tsp powdered sugar
Good pinch of sea salt
160g unsalted butter, frozen for at least 1 hour
3 medium free range eggs, 1 beaten for glazing
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
80 ml ice cold water
6 ripe peaches
125 grams of blueberries
1 tbsp Demerara sugar
3 tbsp apricot jam
Lightly whipped cream or crème fraîche to serve

For the frangipane:
100 g unsalted butter, softened
100 g powdered sugar
2 medium free range eggs
100 g ground almonds
25 g plain flour

1. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and, using a box grater, coarsely grate the frozen butter into the bowl, tossing to coat the strands with the flour. In a measuring cup, whisk together 2 eggs, vinegar, and cold water until combined. Make a well in the center of the flour and butter mixture and pour in the liquid.
2. Using two large forks, gently mix all the ingredients together until the dough forms and holds together. Roll out the dough and quickly assemble with your hands and shape into a disc. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for half an hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 210°C/410°F/Gas Mark 7 and line a large baking tray with parchment paper. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to form a circle 40 cm in diameter and place on the baking tray lined with baking paper. Chill in the fridge while you make the frangipane.
4. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then fold in the ground almonds and flour. Spread this mixture over the bottom of the dough, leaving a 5cm border around the edge. Return to the refrigerator while you prepare the peaches.
5. Halve and remove the bricks, then cut each half into 4 wedges. Arrange these in concentric circles on the frangipane, protruding from the almond mixture. Sprinkle everything with the blueberries.
6. Bring the edges of the dough up and in and curl them into a pretty wheel around the outer layer of peach. Brush the edges of the pastry all over with the beaten egg and then sprinkle with the Demerara sugar.
7. Bake tart for 30-35 minutes or until frangipane and pastry are golden brown. Remove the tart from the oven and let cool until just warm. Melt the apricot jam in a pan with a tiny splash of water, then strain to a smooth glaze. Brush all over the fruit to give it a shine, then serve with lightly whipped cream or crème fraîche. Donal Skehan’s recipes for al fresco dining – wood-fired fennel salmon, steak with bubbled vegetables and a summer fruit galette

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