One swallow makes a summer: Skye Gyngell's perfect three-course meal for a hot, sunny day

These three dishes are simply the things that I feel like eating at this very moment, a combination of strong and delicate flavours. The gazpacho is sharp with an intense taste of summer herbs, while slow-cooked shoulder of lamb is smoky and powerful. And to finish this summer feast, peaches and soft summer fruit – gentle and delicate in flavour.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627,


To me, a good gazpacho is coarse and rough, very much a peasant dish. From southern Spain, its strong, ripe flavours should taste of sun, heat and the dry earth in which all these ingredients thrive best. I have eaten gazpacho served in little chilled glasses as smooth as can be – grown-up and refined – but I prefer to eat it as it is served here.

Serves 6

1 large cucumber, sliced in half, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 red peppers, sliced in half, deseeded and coarsely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 large bunch of basil, leaves only
1 generous bunch of mint, leaves only
11/2kg/3lb very ripe tomatoes, chopped
1in slice of stale coarse bread (say, ciabatta)
1tbsp blanched almonds
2tbsp red-wine vinegar
3tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
A good pinch of sea salt

Once you have prepared all the ingredients, put them in a food processor and blend-pulse four or five times, until you have the consistency of a rough soup. Taste and adjust as you see fit; concentrate on the salt, as it is that which will bring out the bold flavours of all the other ingredients. Prepare in batches if necessary. It is best to eat on the same day as you make it, as the flavours tend to fade quite quickly. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours and serve in well-chilled soup plates.

Slow-cooked lamb with sweet paprika, garlic, chilli and tomatoes

This is a dish that is slow-cooked until the meat is meltingly tender, and the sauce intense. Always use shoulder when slow-cooking lamb, as its flesh is sweeter and its higher fat content allows the meat to cook for a substantial amount of time before drying out.

Make this the day before if you have time, since its flavour will be even better – and eat with nothing more than thick slices of rustic bread and a simple salad.

Serves 6

11/2kg/3lb lamb shoulder – ask your butcher to trim off most of its fat
1 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and sliced
1 head of young garlic, cut in half
11/2tsp fennel seeds
1 dried red chilli, crumbled
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 bunch of marjoram or oregano
200ml/7fl oz dry white wine
2kg/4lb ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 red peppers, sliced into eighths, deseeded
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Place a large roasting tray on top of the stove over a high heat. Season the lamb generously all over with salt and pepper. Pour the oil into the hot tray and once the oil is really warm, add the shoulder. Brown really well all over – do not skimp on this as it seals in the flavour of the meat. Once the lamb is very well browned, remove from the pan and set aside. Turn down the heat slightly and add the onion, garlic, fennel seeds and chilli. Cook for 10 minutes, by which time the onions should be tender and slightly caramelised. Add the paprika and oregano and cook for a further five minutes, then pour over the wine, allow it to blister and bubble for a minute or two, before adding the tomatoes and returning the meat to the pan. Seal firmly with aluminium foil and place on the middle shelf of the oven.

Cook for 1 hours, remove from the oven, then discard the foil and add the red peppers. Turn the heat down to 120C/250F/Gas and cook for a further 1 hours. Remove from the oven, taste and adjust the seasoning; it will almost definitely need a fair amount of salt.

Using a sharp knife and a pair of tongs, remove the meat from the bones – it will slip off with very little help. Discard the bones, return the meat to the tomatoes and peppers in the pan and serve.

Chilled peaches, raspberries and strawberries with rose syrup

At this time of year, this is my very favourite dessert that we make at the restaurant – clean, clean flavours that are clear and ethereal, the rose syrup adding a sweetness that reminds me of some not-quite-placeable lolly from my childhood. This shouldn't be served with anything else at all – you wouldn't want to risk diluting its delicacy.

Serves 6

6 very ripe, sweet, fragrant peaches
300g/10oz raspberries
300g/10oz strawberries, hulled
5 level tbsp icing sugar
11/2tbsp rose syrup
A tiny pinch of salt

Rinse the fruit and slice the strawberries in half. Set aside. Tear the peaches roughly and place in a wide saucepan with the icing sugar. Place over a gentle heat and cook, stirring from time to time, until the sugar has dissolved and the peaches have softened very slightly. This should take no more than 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Once the peaches are tepid, stir in the strawberries, raspberries, rose syrup and salt. Allow to cool to room temperature then chill in the freezer for an hour. Serve on cool plates.

ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
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