Tag Archives: seasonal

In my veg box this week – cauliflower, plums

4 Oct

 

It has been a long summer, the warm weather has just about managed to last into October. Autumn is quite late coming this year, but the signs are there. I may not yet be hunkering down in a big jumper eating stew and dumplings, but the evenings are getting darker and summer cropping plants are slowing down. During the transition between the two seasons I don’t know what to expect in my veg box. Will it be the last of the summer beans, aubergines, and tomatoes, or will it be the first of the autumn squash and cabbages? This week I’ll look at one of each.

This week we have:

Plums
Plums last into autumn longer than any other stoned fruit. They ripen more slowly, which means they last a lot longer in the fruit bowl, and don’t do that annoying thing of looking fine one minute then mouldy the next. On top of this, they’re incredibly fragrant, lending themselves well to jams, cakes, and crumble.

Cauliflower
Poor cauliflower. It has such a poor reputation. Of course it does, people have been boiling it to death and smothering it with bland white sauce for years! With a bit more love and affection you can use its natural creaminess to your advantage without killing the flavour or destroying all of the nutrients. Make vegan ricotta by mashing cooked cauliflower with tofu, nooch and salt. Mix roasted cauliflower with pesto pasta to make it creamy without  being heavy or greasy. Or blend roasted cauliflower with stock and herbs to make a luxurious but healthy soup.

Also received this week: potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms, kale, leek, corn on the cob, oranges, apples, grapes.

“In my veg box this week…” is not intended as a product review, simply a description of some of the fruit and vegetables that are in season and what I like to do with them. I pay full price for my vegetable box and have no affiliation with the company that delivers them or any of their suppliers.

 

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Two-soup Sunday, part one – any veg minestrone

18 Aug

I love soup. It’s healthy, filling, usually cheap, easy to make, requires minimal thought and co-ordination, and best of all, you can put pretty much anything in it. Making soup is a lovely calm activity for a gentle Sunday morning, and if you make a massive batch you’ll have a couple of days worth of packed lunch for work too.

Minestrone is the King of versatility. It surprises me that most recipes give a set list of vegetables with precise quantities. Surely it’s more fun and more practical to just throw in whatever seasonal vegetables you have to hand?! It does make my recipe look a bit strange, but that’s just how I like to do things. The point is, if you open the fridge and feel a bit baffled by the random selection of veggies inside, minestrone is a quick and tasty solution.

Recipe (serves 4-6)

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • a couple of cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (completely optional, but almost obligatory in the Veg house)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or any other herb that works well with what you’ve got)
  • diced fresh veggies – a dinner plate piled fairly high is about the right amount (or 2 carrots, 2 courgettes, 1 red pepper, and a handful of broad beans if you want to follow a list)
  • 120g small pasta or broken spaghetti
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
  • 1 tin any kind of white beans (235g drained weight)
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan with the lid on, sweat the onion in the oil over a medium-low heat for up to 10 minutes, without colouring.

Add the garlic, chilli, herbs, and vegetables, and sweat with the lid on for another 5-10 minutes, again without colouring.

Add the pasta, tomatoes, drained beans, stock, and tomato puree, and simmer for a further 15-20 minutes, until the pasta and vegetables are tender.

Check the seasoning and serve. Top with croutons, cheese, toasted pine nuts, or pesto, or enjoy it naked.

This keeps well in the fridge for a few days but be warned – the pasta will gradually soak up the liquid and it will become less soupy over time, but still utterly delicious!

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Perfect English asparagus

4 May

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Nothing brings me more joy than the English asparagus season. It only lasts for a few weeks, but it is well worth the wait. Yes, you can get asparagus all year round, but for 11 months of the year it is bland, disappointing, and has traveled halfway round the world. You can’t beat fresh, local, tender, delicious stems, dripping in butter…

Yes, I could post a recipe for doing something unusual with it, but steamed asparagus is a thing of beauty. Just add a knob of butter, or an egg (poached or soft-boiled) and enjoy.

Pea pesto, or as I like to call it, pea-sto (sorry).

6 Apr

Basil

It’s early April, flowers are beginning to bloom, leaves are coming out on the trees, the wildlife is getting a little frisky, and the weather is starting to think about getting a bit warmer. Yes, it’s my favourite time of year, and as it gets warmer and lighter in the evening it’s time to ditch the stodgy comfort foods and to eat something fresh and exciting that makes you feel amazing. What could be better than something full of lovely green things?

This has the added advantage of being low in fat, as some of the pine nuts are replaced by peas, and because I don’t like to use too much oil (although you could add more if that floats your boat).

This makes a generous portion for two, best served over pasta and/or some seasonal veg. Maybe some purple sprouting broccoli or early asparagus. You need a small blender, like a mini chopper or smoothie maker. Here’s the recipe.

Put the following in your blender:

One clove of garlic, crushed.

A quarter cup each of:

  • defrosted peas
  • mint leaves
  • basil leaves
  • vegetable stock

2 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts or cashews

1 tablespoon each of the following

  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • parmesan, vegetarian parmesan-style cheese or vegan nutritional yeast flakes (or anything else cheesy as you see fit)

A pinch each of salt and pepper

Blend together until just chopped, you don’t want it ultra smooth. Pour over the pasta/veg in the pan it was cooked in, heat through for a couple of minutes and serve. Yum!

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