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In Praise Of A 'Fetastic' Summer: Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson recommends combining feta and fresh vegetables for a light summer treat.
Nigella Lawson recommends combining feta and fresh vegetables for a light summer treat.

Food writer Nigella Lawson doesn't much care for shopping in the summer. "[It] is really so much worse than cooking," she says.

Her solution? Feta cheese. The aged, salty, grainy cheese keeps well for long periods of time in the fridge and goes nicely with a variety of summer vegetables. But Lawson sees another benefit of feta.

"I dare say that when it's hot, you lose liquid and salt through sweating," she tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. "Therefore, it's quite natural to want a salty cheese."

Natural, indeed. "Do you want to just keep talking for a minute, because I'm going to take another bite here," Inskeep says between samples of Lawson's grilled eggplant with feta, mint and chili.

The dish is simple: Grilled slices of eggplant are brushed with oil and then rolled with a stuffing of crumbled feta, red chili, a little lemon juice and some fresh mint.

"I go mad for mint in summer," Lawson says. "I think it's very undervalued."

Mint is also featured prominently in her zucchini fritters. But these fritters aren't the heavy, deep-fried things that might come to mind. They're "absolutely 'fetastic,' " Lawson says.

Instead of milk or cream, she uses feta. Add a pound or two of grated zucchini, eggs, a little flour, seasoning — and of course, the mint — fry them up like pancakes and sprinkle with lime juice.

Served at room temperature, the zucchini brings out a surprisingly sweet taste, she says. "It's a bit like little cakes of herb-y, zucchini-y scrambled eggs."

And with zucchini, eggplant and summer squash overflowing in many produce aisles, Lawson says, "Why not make them the star of the meal rather than having them just as a side dish?"

For dessert, she suggests ice cream topped with hot blackberry sauce. But instead of cooking the berries in sugar, Lawson uses balsamic vinegar.

"It just brings out the taste enormously," she says.

And that, of course, is the whole point.

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