How to cook a lighter summer Sunday roast | Food

It’s summer, but I still want a Sunday roast. How can I make it lighter?
Jenny, Cambridge

The first port of call, Jenny, is to reassess your roast’s entourage. “Bringing in lighter sides is the answer,” says Tom Harris, chef and co-owner, alongside Jon Rotheram, of the Marksman pub in east London. “Maybe lose the sauces and gravies; we tend to move more towards condiments, too, which means lots of herb aïolis and the like.” That’s not to say you have to do away with gravy altogether. Rotheram suggests adding chicken gravy to dressings (with vinegar or creme fraiche): “That works really well with little gems, as does beef gravy with a vegetable tumbled salad.”

Said tumble could be “lovely summer carrots” (or beets, fennel or onions) roasted and served cold with a green sauce. “People think of salads as lettuce, but we’re talking about roast vegetables [mixed with] a salad leaf,” Harris explains. “Or maybe something more substantial such as roasted chicory mixed with lighter leaves.” If there’s a chicken in the oven, Rotheram might accessorise it with a roast tomato and anchovy salad: “That’s lovely and different. Then serve a bowl of boiled or steamed jersey royals on the side, which is a nice alternative to roast potatoes.”

Former MasterChef winner Thomas Frake, meanwhile, would do a side of coleslaw (cabbage, fennel, onion) and roast baby potatoes “drowning in roast garlic and parsley butter”. And the bird should be “stuffed with lemons and slathered in tarragon butter”. Original MasterChef winner and Guardian columnist Thomasina Miers, on the other hand, goes for an olive-and-garlic butter stuffing. This involves chopping four garlic cloves, adding salt, then crushing them to a paste. She adds kalamata olives and fresh oregano, then chops the lot into the garlic, before combining with 65g butter, black pepper and lemon zest. “Gently lift the skin of the chicken away from the breast and thighs – just enough to be able to smear the butter mix generously under the skin – then put any leftover butter in the cavity.” Squeeze over some lemon juice, season inside and out, nestle the bird on top of steamed and bashed spuds drizzled with olive oil, add thyme, cherry tomatoes and lemon slices, and roast. Eat with salad and you’re in for a good time.

“We do a lot of pot roasting as well,” says Harris, who might drop in some peas or artichokes, too. “It’s slightly lighter, but you’re still getting the roast meat thing.” But, Rotheram adds sensibly, it’s not just about the meat. At the Marksman, you’ll find tarts filled with seasonal greens, which is another good tactic: “They’re room temperature, and go great with roast tomato salads or that carrot salad.”

For Maunika Gowardhan, author of Thali, however, one-pan roasts are hard to beat: “They are my favourite.” Her go-to is a cauliflower and cashew poriyal served with pulao, dal, and chutneys. “Although the classic recipe is a stir-fry, I also like to roast the cauliflower as a traybake with turmeric, grated coconut, green chillies and coriander.” Happily, things don’t have to end there, either: “Any leftovers are great stuffed in pav bread with green chutney.”

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