planning for summer food

by Sharon Santoni

fresh vegetables at market


We’re not in the summer yet, not by a long way, but the spring does seem to be in a hurry to move forward here.  Consequently I’m having to decide very quickly what to plant in our kitchen garden this year.  Since I created the no-dig beds a couple of months ago, I haven’t had time to plant anything, and the only plant showing is the  rhubarb that just refuses to give up.

We don’t have a big kitchen garden, it’s as much about looking pretty as producing food.  But the few crops that we manage to harvest have to be ideal for summer eating and entertaining.

That’s why this year I shall be growing a lot of basil for making delicious pesto sauce for our pasta;

bowl of pesto sauce

plenty of tomatoes, zucchini and aubergine or eggplant for our stuffed vegetables

bite size stuffed vegetables

and hopefully this year some coco de Paimpol, or white beans which are quite divine as a summer salad.  They can actually be bought all year around as dry beans, and the recipe below can be adapted to using dry beans in case you don’t have the possibility or indeed the wish to grow them yourself.

coco de paimpol beans in salad

To make a salad of Coco beans for four people as a main dish or for eight people as a small appetiser with a glass of rosé before the meal, you will need:

350 g / fresh white beans preferably the variety Cocos de Paimpol

one onion with a clove inserted for cooking

one finely chopped onion (I prefer to use a violet onion)

sprig of thyme

3 large spoons of olive oil

2 spoons of balsamic vinegar

Cover the freshly shelled beans with cold water, and drop the onion with the clove and the sprig of thyme into the water  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 25 minutes or until the beans are just tender.

Strain, rinse in cold water and leave to cool.   Chop the violet onion finely, and prepare the vinaigrette then pour the beans into a deep salad bowl and add the onion and vinaigrette with a little chopped chives or basil to taste.  Some people like to add some small cherry tomatoes cut in half, but the beans are delicious without.

All this beautiful food was prepared and shot at the Château de Moissac, photos by Franck Schmitt for the book My Stylish French Girlfriends.



Emm April 11, 2017 - 8:04 pm

“no-dig beds”? Did you talk about that here, and is there a link? It would make interesting reading, now that winter seems to be ending.
Those pictures make me hungry for the beautiful foods of summer.

Sharon Santoni April 12, 2017 - 8:33 am

HI Emm, sorry! I forgot the link to the article, here it is

have a lovely day


Emm April 13, 2017 - 1:15 am

Thanks so much, I’d missed that one.
I hadn’t before heard it called Lasagna Gardening, but what a good term. And lucky you, for no raccoons and no slugs.

Rié Moratto April 11, 2017 - 8:04 pm

Planning for summer food and choosing crops to plant for a kitchen garden is such an inspiration for our Spring Holiday, that I am directly going out to the nursery … a lovely way to spend a Tuesday morning. Thank you Sharon for continuing to inspire us to live ‘Life as it should be’, or in this case, as it can be. Gorgeous photos! xxRié

Rié Moratto April 11, 2017 - 8:09 pm

Have you thought of producing a garden book? Or/and how to/you live beautifully? Such as your article on Planning for Summer food to plant in the kitchen garden… making up a french home, styling, flower beds, charming regional stories, fresh eggs… linens …etc? Just a thought… a good one. 😉

Our French Oasis April 11, 2017 - 8:54 pm

We are doing just this at the moment, planning the vegetable garden. The weather has been so fantastic we have been eating outdoors for a week or more and although it is truly lovely, it is always so much better when we are able to wander down the garden and collect our own produce to eat, it always tastes that much better!

Taste of France April 11, 2017 - 9:24 pm

Technically it’s still too early to plant, even in the south of France, but we are itching to do it. A neighbor planted tomatoes very early and then some more tomatoes in late May and the later ones produced more. Go figure.
Our garden has always focused on nibbling, because we have such wonderful, inexpensive local produce available at the market. So we have cherry tomatoes, sweet red peppers, strawberries, raspberries and of course lots of herbs. Bugs and snails usually eat more of my basil than I do, but the rosemary is gigantic.

Colleen Taylor April 11, 2017 - 10:09 pm

How pretty these vegetables look Sharon. Nothing like fresh veggies from the garden. Thank you for another wonderful recipe. X

Viherrilli / Greenpinky April 12, 2017 - 8:14 am

Yummy plans 🙂

Georgia May 18, 2017 - 2:13 pm

Thanks for the recipe, I will def try it. Love how warm the weather is now here in the south west (France) and this looks like the perfect dish to serve with a BBQ and huge salad (home grown, of course!)
Your home looks beautiful 🙂


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