5 seasonal summer ingredients to cook with NOW

Summer is all about light, fresh, zesty ingredients. From Queensland tiger prawns and blood oranges to figs, lychees and loganberries, here are our favourite summer ingredients to add to your cooking.

Balmy summer days call for fuss-free food, relaxed cooking, easy-to-share platters, good tunes and laidback vibes shared with family and friends. Whether it’s fresh-out-of-the-ocean seafood to cook up for a summer barbie, an indulgent three-course Sunday lunch or a seasonal dessert made with Queensland mangoes, here are the ingredients we are loving this summer season.

1. Queensland tiger prawns

There’s nothing better than cooking with Queensland tiger prawns in the warm, summer months – think fresh, mouth-watering produce that is quintessentially Queensland. Queensland tiger prawns are super versatile, too, says Jonathan Phipps, Director of Food & Beverage at Treasury Brisbane.

“Queensland tiger prawns are nice and simple to cook with,” says Jonathan. “You just peel, de-vein, marinate, and barbecue them! They taste great with an Asian-inspired salad.”

Prefer oysters over prawns? Watch our video on oyster shucking:

Chef Uday Huja

2. Blood orange

Summer is a season when salads reign supreme and it’s all about light, fresh ingredients that aren’t too heavy. The best way to finish off a salad, according to Dany Karam, Executive Chef at BLACK Bar & Grill at The Star Sydney, is to add some sweetness with a little fruit on top. His top ingredient of choice? Blood orange.

For the ultimate summer salad, you should also ensure you mix up the textures, too. “Use raw vegetables and fresh vegetables, grill some zucchini, keep your dressing simple and use kosher salt,” says Dany. Noted.

Winter Salad with Quinoa, Avocado, Blood Orange, Pomegranate, Bulgur and Hazelnuts

3. Grapefruit

Citrusy, tart, juicy and delicious, grapefruit adds a tangy flavour to any dish. Our favourite way to serve up this sexy summer ingredient is in a salad. Try a combination of grapefruit, fennel and fetta or grapefruit, avocado, walnuts and fresh mint. What’s even better is being served a grapefruit salad alongside Moreton Bay bugs complete with a sambal aioli. Yes, you read right. It’s possible at Kiyomi restaurant at The Star Gold Coast and is, quite simply, perfection on a plate.

4. Queensland mangoes

Could there be a more summer-worthy moment than biting into a juicy, king-sized Queensland mango? Likely not. “Queensland mangoes are without a doubt the best in the world,” says Jonathan, adding, “we are extremely lucky to have such great fruit during summer in Queensland”. Some of his other favourite fruits to cook with in summer include figs, loganberries and lychees.

Healthy salad with mango, spinach, pecan and vinaigrette dressing.

5. Tasmanian salmon

Vibrant flavours and carefully curated ingredients are key in summer, as Executive Chef Chris McLeay from Garden Kitchen & Bar on the Gold Coast knows all too well. It is these ingredients, after all, that form the basis of Chris’ insanely fresh and fun menu. A show-stopping piece of produce on his menu – and an essential summer item to cook with – is Tasmanian salmon. You can’t beat the freshness of this delicious fish come summertime, and it tastes great no matter how it’s served, be it crispy, smoked, or macadamia crusted.  

Pictures courtesy of The Star Entertainment Group and iStock.

Chuck on The Star’s summer playlist while you’re whipping up your fresh feast.