Veg Box #x3E;#x3E; Spring
This week was national Vegetarian week I believe, and i just so happen to have been working on this post for a few weeks now and realised it would perfectly coincide, so i thought I should share.
A few weeks ago I dropped into the farm shop on the way home from work and picked up a seasonal veg box. I have been trying to be more conscious of the fruit and vegetables we buy, for a while there we were getting into the nasty habit of not using things up and I hate wastage. I like the boxes from our local shop, they feature lots of items we would use up without even thinking about it (potatoes, carrots, cauliflower) and then they add in a couple of seasonal items that I have to exercise my brain for (asparagus, beetroots and leeks). I thought it would be nice to show you how I use those slightly less run of the mill items when I pick up a box.
If you don't have a local farm shop to supply your veg box, Riverford Organics deliver all over the country from one of their many "local" farms (they deliver from the one nearest to you) and were the original organic veg box delivery service, I was seriously considering one of these services before our farm shop started selling veg boxes, and they offer a huge variety of options.
Asparagus and Lemon Pasta ::
This one is all The Queen's own (Nigella Lawson from Nigella Summer) though I have adapted the amounts and method slightly, it's a bit different from the typical asparagus with hollandaise but equally delicious so I thought I would share.
You Will Need ::
1 large bunch of Asparagus
125ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic
Juice and Zest of a Lemon
Enough Penne for two
Handful of Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley
- Snap the woody bits off the bottom of the asparagus, and chop them into pieces roughly the same size as your pasta. Put your asparagus into a pan top steamer to wait.
- Put your pasta on to boil in a large pan of salted and oiled water. Put a frying pan on a low heat with the Extra Virgin Olive oil in it, chop your garlic and add it to the pan, cook it very slowly until just golden. Do not burn it! When it looks like it is just starting to turn gold, put your asparagus steamer on top of your pasta pan.
- Remove the frying pan from the heat and add the juice of your lemon. Stir, after a few minutes more your asparagus should be steamed, remove from the pasta pan and when the pasta is cooked (should be about the same time) scoop it into the frying pan. Add the asparagus and stir, adding the parsley and lemon zest last.
- Serve into bowls and top generously with parmesan cheese.
She never gets it wrong does Nigella! Fresh and delicious.
Leek and Cider Welsh Rarebit ::
This is my version of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipe from River Cottage Year, and it is far far superior (Sorry Hugh!)
You will need ::
50g Butter, plus extra for frying
50g Plain Flour
Half a Bottle of Apple Cider or a glass of tart fresh apple juice.
100g Cheddar, grated, plus a healthy grating of parmesan cheese.
4 Slices of bread, toasted.
- Slice your leeks finely and sweat in a frying pan over a low heat in butter.
- In a saucepan melt your butter, then add the flour and stir to make a roux. Cook the floury taste off for a few minutes, then add your cider or apple juice. I have to say, using the cheap sweet concentrated apple juice really won't work with this, it needs to be tart fresh real stuff, or cider, you need the tang.
- Stir over a low heat until you have a thick sauce. Add your grated cheddar and stir until melted. Season with pepper, a blob of mustard and a good splash of Worcestershire sauce. Stir in the leeks.
- Take each slice of toast and place them on a tray or in a griddle tray. Top each generously with the leeks mixture and then scatter over the parmesan. Splash with Worcestershire sauce and pop under the grill. Keep an eye on it, we don't want it to burn, we just want the parmesan to melt into the rest of the sauce and go slightly brown.
Serve as is, or with a salad if you want to make it healthier.
Roasted Beetroot and Butternut Squash Galette ::
All my own this time, don't be afraid of peeling the beets, simply wash your hands between each one to prevent stained cuticles!
You Will Need:
1 batch of shortcrust pastry, or to make your own: 280g Plain Flour, 60g Lard and 60g Butter, 1tsp Poppy Seeds, splash or two of milk.
4 medium sized beetroots, or 3 large, washed.
1 Butternut squash, peeled and sliced fairly thinly.
1 red onion.
Half a pack of Feta Cheese
1 Clove Garlic
Small amount of olive oil
- Make your pastry, In a shallow dish cube your lard and butter and coat in the flour, put the dish in the freezer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove from freezer and put into food processor, slowly add splashes of milk while the processor is on until the pastry has barely come together. Add your poppy seeds, pulse slightly to distribute. Remove pastry from mixer and lightly work together into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Roast your beetroots, chop off the leaves and any particularly scraggly roots. Take a square of foil for each beet and while still damp from washing wrap each one individually. Place into a baking dish and roast on a high heat for half an hour, or until you can easily push a blunt knife into them.
- When your pastry is rested, take out of the fridge and roll out thinly, directly onto a floured baking tray. slice your onion into thin rings and distribute around the middle of the pastry, leaving at least an inch free from filling around the edge.
- Once your beetroots are roasted remove them from the oven and turn the heat down to around 170C. Take them out of the foil and peel the skins off with either your fingers, or I find it easiest to use a blunt knife to scrape them away. Slice them thinly.
- Arrange your squash and beetroot on top of the onions, I wanted it to look pretty so I alternated, but you don't have to as it is a little fiddly. Crush your clove of Garlic over the top and drizzle the whole thing with a little olive oil. Crumble over your feta.
- Begin to very carefully fold the pastry edge up and over the top of the fillings to create a lip, pleating where necessary. Brush with egg wash and slide into the oven. Cook for around 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
Serve this warm on a spring afternoon, or it is also delicious packed up for lunch or a picnic.