The ultimate apéritif: three simple summer canapés


Summer snacks, photographed by Joe Woodhouse
Photograph: Joe Woodhouse
A warm summer’s evening deserves to be savoured – and there’s no better way to do so than with a glass of something cold in hand, not to mention something to nibble on. Whether you’re hosting for four or 40, our Head Chef Stewart Turner has compiled three simple canapés that are destined for the aperitivo hour

Nothing starts a party better than a glass of something cold and some nibbles out in the summer sun. When having guests over for dinner in the summer, I often forgo a starter and focus on a selection of snacks and nibbles that can be enjoyed al fresco with a pre-dinner cocktail or apéritif. Here is a small selection of my favourites (the recipes make enough for eight to 10 people).

Summer snacks

Grilled vegetables with romesco sauce

Romesco originated in Tarragona, Catalonia in northern Spain, originally made by local fisherman to serve with their catch. Today it’s synonymous with Spanish cuisine and equally at home paired with grilled meats as, in this case, with vegetables. During the summer I always have some in the fridge as a go-to for when the barbecue gets fired up.

For the romesco:

  • 4 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves – peeled and sliced
  • 1 slice sourdough bread – crust removed and torn into chunks
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 100g blanched almonds – roasted
  • 200g piquillo peppers – deseeded
  • 60ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for cooking
  • 15ml Sherry vinegar

For the grilled vegetables:

  • Olive oil
  • Spring onions
  • Tenderstem broccoli
  • Asparagus

Preheat the oven to 160°C. First, make the sauce. Halve the tomatoes, season and drizzle with a little oil, then bake in a hot oven until soft (about 10 minutes). Fry the garlic in a little oil until it just starts to turn golden, then add the bread. Fry until golden and crisp. Add the cayenne and paprika, and toast for a minute.

Place the pan’s contents along with all the other ingredients in a food processor and blend until you obtain a coarse consistency. Season to taste. Add a little more vinegar if it needs a bit more acidity and a little more oil for a thinner sauce.

Nor prepare the vegetables. Brush all the vegetables with a little oil, season with salt and griddle over a high heat, turning occasionally, until they are softening at the core and charred all over. Place on a serving platter with a bowl of the romesco to dip them in.

Sobrasada toasts with broad beans and ricotta, photographed by Joe Woodhouse
Sobrasada toasts with broad beans and ricotta, photographed by Joe Woodhouse

Sobrasada toasts with broad beans and ricotta

Sobrasada is a soft, spreadable chorizo which is similar to Italian ‘nduja but not quite as spicy. It makes a fantastic addition to a pizza base sauce or mixed through some freshly cooked pasta (it’s also what I add to my baked beans to take them to the next level).

  • 1 sourdough baguette – cut into 1.5cm slices
  • 200g shelled broad beans
  • 75g ricotta
  • 1 lemon – zest
  • ½ bunch chives – finely chopped  
  • 10 basil leaves – roughly torn
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 200g Iberico sobrasada
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to finish

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Spread the sourdough slices onto a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until crisp and golden. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool.

Let the sobrasada come up to room temperature. Place the broad beans in a food processor and blitz to a course paste. Add in the ricotta, chives and grated lemon zest, and pulse to a creamy consistency – be careful not to overwork, however, as you don’t want to lose the texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Carefully spread the toasted baguette slices with the sobrasada. Top each with a dollop of broad bean mix and finish with a piece of torn basil. Place on a serving platter and drizzle with extra virgin oil.

Smoked cod's roe mousse, photographed by Joe Woodhouse
Smoked cod’s roe mousse, photographed by Joe Woodhouse

Smoked cod’s roe mousse

Smoked cod’s roe exploded onto the London restaurant scene a few years back and shows no signs of disappearing. Rich, salty and smoky, it makes a cracking canapé. Easy to make, it can be served as a dip, or on crackers, toasted bread or – as in this case – potatoes, a different take on a classic brandade.

  • 100g smoked cod’s roe
  • 150ml light olive oil
  • 75ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 50ml crème fraîche
  • ½ garlic clove
  • White pepper
  • 1 lemon – zest and juice
  • 1 bunch of breakfast radishes – quartered
  • 30g baby capers
  • Grilled new potato slices – boiled new potatoes, sliced to about the thickness of a pound coin and grilled
  • Chive flowers, to finish (optional)

Peel away the skin from the roe or, if this is tricky, use a spoon to scoop out the roe. Transfer to a food processor, squeeze in the lemon juice, add the garlic and blitz briefly.

With the motor running, slowly start pouring in the oil, you want it to emulsify; so start by adding very slowly and build up to a steady stream. Once it’s all been incorporated, add the crème fraîche, whizz again and add a little more lemon if you feel it needs it. Transfer to a bowl and chill.

Place the mousse in a piping bag and pipe onto the potato slices top with some capers and a quarter of radish. If you have them, finish with some chive flowers.

What to drink: Champagne, Fino Sherry, Albariño, a G&T, Vermouth on the rocks with a slice of orange – make sure it’s cold and we’re not too fussed. Browse our favourite bottles for aperitivo o’clock here.