Homegrown flavour

August really is the month in Ireland for home grown Mediterranean vegetables. Tomatoes, aubergines, peppers and courgettes are all sun-loving fruits that are eaten as vegetables. The ‘sun loving’ being the reason they take all summer to ripen.

Our courgettes have been taking their time. We’re still hovering around the plants wondering whether there are any ready to pick, which is in fact a good thing. Baby courgettes are the sweetest and tastiest and -delicious in salads.

We’ve been eating a courgette, green bean, basil and pea salad – having an abundance of green beans and basil at hand and cheating with frozen peas. It’s delightful combination of texture and summery flavour

The peas and beans are blanched but the courgettes are raw but don’t seem so. They are salted and rinsed before being dressed which gives them a crisp but tender bite.

Check out the farmer’s markets and local growers, as courgettes grown close to home will be fresher and taste better. If you can find little yellow ones they would be great for the colour scheme but green ones taste equally as good.

Courgette, Green Bean and Pea salad


• 250g French beans

• 1-2 small courgettes

• 200g fresh peas or frozen is good

• handful fresh basil

• 100mls olive oil

• zest 1 lemon

• juice of half or to taste

• 1 clove garlic

• half tsp dijon mustard

• salt and pepper


Slice the courgettes thinly, sprinkle with salt and toss well.

Put aside in a bowl or colander for at least 15minutes.

Top and tail the beans. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a half tsp salt and the beans. Cook for four minutes then lift out of the water and drop into a bowl of cold water. Let them cool then drain

Bring the water back to the boil then add the peas. Cook for one minute the drain and drop into cold water to cool. Drain and shake off excess water.

Rinse the courgettes, take a handful at a time and squeeze to remove the water. Repeat until all the courgettes are done

Put the courgettes, french beans and peas into a bowl, roughly chop the basil and add then season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grate the lemon zest on top of the vegetables

Peel and chop the garlic. Whisk the garlic, lemon juice and Dijon mustard together then whisk in the olive oil. Season with a little salt 

Gently toss the dressing with the vegetables. Add more salt or lemon to taste.

Lettercollum Kitchen Project are hosting two events for the Taste of West Cork festival in September. The first on Friday, September 6 is ‘Dinner from the Garden’, a seven course tasting menu shared around the kitchen table at Lettercollum in Timoleague and the second is ‘A Taste of Valencia’, tapas and paella accompanied by music in O’Donovan’s hotel on Tuesday, September 10. Tickets for both events are available at the shop or by email.

The autumn cooking class schedule is now available, give me a shout if you are interested.

August greetings!


Lettercollum Kitchen Project

22, Connolly Street,


023 8836938



Karen Austin

Karen Austin is the co-owner of the Lettercollum Kitchen Project in Clonakilty.

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