Feeling peckish? Skye Gyngell presents her light, summer lunch dishes

From juicy grilled poussins to chilli-infused baked ricotta, they can still pack in the flavour
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Indy Lifestyle Online

These dishes are no more than things I like to eat at this time of year, all simple in execution and fairly quick to assemble. They work better at lunch than in the evening as they are robust and simple. It is not imperative that they be eaten together – combine them with any dishes you feel are right.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, petershamnurseries.com

Grilled poussins with lemon, marjoram, flatbread and garlicky yoghurt

I cooked this in a wood-fired oven one beautiful summer's evening. The combination of tender chicken, garlicky yoghurt and sweet summer tomatoes, mopped up with the thinnest possible bread, was truly memorable. It helped that the poussins were salted beforehand, which makes their flesh really flavourful. You might not be able to create quite the same effect without a wood-fired oven, but it will taste delicious all the same.

Serves 4

4 poussins, spatchcocked
1 tbsp coarse sea salt
Juice of 1 lemon
Small bunch of marjoram, leaves only, chopped
1 red chilli, finely sliced
4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

For the Yoghurt dressing

300ml/pint thick, Greek-style yoghurt
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Pinch of sea salt
40ml/1 fl oz extra-virgin olive oil

To serve

4 Arab-style flatbreads or pitta breads
About 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
A large handful of wild rocket
A few marjoram leaves, roughly torn

A day ahead, lay the spatchcocked poussins on a board and sprinkle coarse salt evenly over. Cover with a clean cloth and place in the fridge.

The next day, an hour or so before you are ready to cook, take the poussins out of the fridge and allow them to return to room temperature. Brush off any excess salt. Do not re-season, but sprinkle with lemon juice. Stir the marjoram and chilli into the olive oil, then rub this mixture all over the birds and set them aside.

To make the yoghurt dressing , put the yoghurt into a bowl and add the garlic, salt and olive oil. Stir well, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

When ready to cook, heat up the grill or barbecue. When it is really hot, lay the poussins skin-side down on the grill rack and cook for 6-8 minutes, then turn and grill for a further 8 minutes on the other side. The skin should be golden-blistered in some places, the flesh underneath meltingly tender.

A minute or two before the poussins are ready, add the flatbreads to the grill to warm through, turning once.

Arrange the poussins on warm plates, with the warm breads, tomatoes and rocket. Spoon over the yoghurt dressing and scatter over a little marjoram to serve.

Melon sorbet with mint crush

This is a lovely, refreshing sorbet – the crushed mint scattered over the top gives it a crystally zing which is unusual and very pleasant. This sorbet is made with the orange-fleshed melons that are particularly good at this time of year. To tell whether a melon is ripe, smell the skin – it should smell very much of the flesh of the melon.

Serves 6

1 ripe melon
4 tbsp caster sugar
A little pinch of salt
The juice of a lime

For the mint crush

1 medium bunch of mint, leaves only
1 tbsp caster sugar

Slice the melon in half, scoop out the seeds and discard them. Spoon out the flesh of the melon and place in a food processor. Add the sugar, salt and lime juice. Purée until smooth, then remove and place in an ice-cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer's instruction.

For the mint crush, pound the mint and sugar with a pestle and mortar until the leaves are crushed. Place in the fridge until you are ready to eat the sorbet.

To serve, scatter the mint over the sorbet just before eating.

Baked ricotta

This dish is best served at room temperature – it is light in flavour, easy to make and perfect for vegetarians

Serves 8

1kg/2lb ricotta – cow, sheep or buffalo
4 eggs
The zest of one lemon
1 dried chilli, crumbled
2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
1 small bunch of marjoram, leaves only
Sea salt
An 8in x 3in loaf tin
A little olive oil with which to brush the tin

Place the ricotta in a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon to loosen a little, then add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Now stir in all the other ingredients. Brush the tin with the oil and spoon in the ricotta mixture. Bake on the middle shelf of an oven set at 180C/ 350F/Gas4 for 45 minutes. Serve with a salad. Here, I have served it with yellow beans, roasted tomatoes and radicchio.