Archive for category Vegetables
My friend, Liz, recently posted her recipe for Gazpacho. It looks wonderful but if I’m honest Gazpacho isn’t something I eat as I have an issue with cold soup. I confess I can’t really even bring myself to try it. I’ve had shots of cold soup while dining out which was fine and I wish I felt differently but a whole bowl, for a meal isn’t really for me. As I was reading Liz’ recipe I was inspired and found myself thinking that all of those lovely ingredients would make a great salad! Of course I’m not the first to have this idea but as salad is my go to lunch at the moment I thought Id try this idea out and I’m glad I did! It made a delicious, fast lunch. It was nice to have a salad without any leaves for a change!
This Gazpacho salad is made in a jiffy! Chop all of the ingredients, whisk together the dressing and its done, you have the base of a meal in just a few minutes! I left the skin on my cucumber, partly as I like it that way but I also think the crunch it adds is nice. The chilli is to my taste, it can easily be left out or increased. I used oregano as it was to hand. I will try with dill next time but I think any fresh green herb would work. To get the maximum flavor from the tomatoes use them at room temperature. This is especially important at this time of year when tomatoes are decidedly less tasty! Tomatoes stored in the fridge have no flavour. I had salmon with my salad but this Gazpacho salad is the perfect side to fish, prawns (shrimp), chicken or bread!
Gazpacho Salad (serves 2)
- 2 large tomatoes. chopped
- 3 inch piece of cucumber, chopped
- 1/2 small red onion, diced finely
- 1/2 red pepper, chopped
- 1/4 fresh chilli or some chilli flakes
for the dressing
- 1 small clove of garlic, peeled and smashed with the back of a knife
- 2.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- some fresh oregano leaves, chopped finely
- salt and fresh ground pepper
- First assemble the ingredients for the dressing. Peel and smash the garlic clove and put into a jug or jar. Add the olive oil and vinegar and leave to sit while you prepare the rest of the salad.
- Chop the rest of the salad ingredients and add to a bowl.
- Fish the garlic out of the olive oil and discard. Add the salt and pepper and whisk together.
- Pour over the salad ingredients in the bowl and stir well to cover all the vegetables in the dressing, check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve at room temperature accompanied with bread, salmon, chicken, or prawns (shrimp).
This time last year I stumbled upon a challenge that really appealed to me. It was called the Urban Farm Challenge, a monthly blog challenge encouraging a simpler lifestyle relying more on local, organic (if possible) foods and making and growing your own food, even for city dwellers. It was to be a year of learning useful house-holding skills. I have always lived in cities but love the idea of country life and over the years have dabbled in growing my own vegetables and canning my own jams and chutneys, often from that home-grown produce! This challenge was just a step further, there was cheese making, foraging, making herbal teas and tinctures. I just loved the idea and got the book for my birthday, I love this book! Its co written by Anette Cottrell and Joshua McNichols, two of the most inspiring people! Both have families and are trying to live without supermarkets and the book is full of tips for gardening, composting, growing, preserving, city farming. There is advice on sourcing your own food suppliers, grinding your own grains. I loved this challenge and took part in most of the challenges although I must admit I was a bit of a fair weather partaker and did less of the winter challenges. Here is my round-up of my Urban Farm Challenge over the last year.
February: The challenge was soil improvement. I was late to the challenge but quickly ordered a composting bin with hope of making my own compost. Unfortunately the bin that arrived was huge, to big for my city garden so I donated it to a friend with an allotment and looked to the next challenge!
March: The challenge was home dairy, this was the challenge that I was most looking forward to! The idea of making my own cheese was completely new to me but I dove in and made lemon cheese, ricotta and mozzarella. I have made my own cheese several more times throughout the year and am inspired to try more, I’ve found this to be an area that I really want to explore!
April: The challenge was gardening and sowing your own seeds. Easy for me as I grow some type of vegetable each year. My Mother in law has an allotment and takes care of the plants for me, it’s an unbelievably lucky outcome for me and I’m so grateful to her for this! Among the regular vegetables I grow I also tried some different things as part of one of the challenges. I managed to seek out collard greens, not successful at all in the cool, wet summer we had,the snails got to the only tiny plant that survived! I also planted endive (chicory) another fail! The black futsu and Naples long pumpkins were much more successful as were the yellow courgettes (zucchini).
May: The challenge for May was foraging, not as easy as I thought! I’m too scared to try to find mushrooms on my own but I did make a dandelion salad foraged from my garden, I will admit that dandelion leaves are not the best thing I ever tasted but I am glad I tried!
June: This month the challenge was botanicals and all about making your own tinctures, balms and herbal infusions. I made chive blossom vinegar which I look forward to making again. I really wanted to try to make my own lotions but am a little ashamed to admit that I still have not tried this, maybe that will be one of this years “to try’s”.
July: Seed saving and looking forward to winter was the challenge this month, I did not take part as nothing was in flower yet. Due to the awful weather we had last summer everything was behind.
August: It was preserving this month, something I do each summer anyway. Small batch canning, cold storage, fermentation were all available to try using summers bounty. I always make jams, jellies and chutneys and last year was no different. Here is a selection of what I made pickled courgettes, peach pie preserves (so good!) and I tried fermentation with cucumber kimchi.
September: It was all about bartering this month, and swapping ones goods for those of another. One of the possible challenges was to hold a food swap, I love the idea of this and maybe one day I will try to arrange one, I just need to find enough fellow canners and growers! I don’t mean to go on about the awful summer we had last year but due to this I found I didn’t have an abundance of anything! I did manage one swap with a friend that had a bucket of plums for which I swapped some very large squash.
October: Protein was the theme this month, and we were free to choose our own challenges from hunting to growing your own beans. Time escaped me this month and I didn’t get around to taking part.
November: The challenge this month was about grains, using whole grains and even brewing with grain mash! This was a crazy month and despite my best intentions once again I missed this one, although using whole grains is something I try to do anyway.
December: This month handcrafted holidays was our task. With the recession this is something I have been seeing more and more of and I love the idea of this. I made my own vanilla and lemon salt to give as gifts. One of the gifts I had most fun with was to make up a basket and fill it with jam, chutney, lemon salt and vanilla I had made. This was a very successful, my friend loved her gift!
January: This was the wrap up month, but it was extended to February which is why I’m doing it now.
I had a great time with this challenge, I loved reading the book and trying new things. One day I hope to have a house with a little land where I can fulfill my Little House on The Prairie lifestyle dream! For now I will carry on enjoying some of the skills this challenge has taught me and hopefully pick up some more. Many thanks to Annette for organizing this and all the hard work she put into it, I had a blast!
I’m dragging myself kicking and screaming onto the healthy train this new year! I’m finding it hard to get out of bad habits left over from the holiday season, possibly the very cold weather we have had recently is making it harder. However I’m trying to get back into healthier habits. One thing we will be having for dinner this week is watercress soup. I first tried this soup in France, in a supermarket of all places! We were given a sample while shopping, if I had made that soup for my husband he wouldn’t have even tried it but in a French supermarket it was somehow appealing to him and not only did he try but he liked it! Always delighted to find a healthier meal for that my husband will have too, I recreated it when we got back. It’s very simple and quick to make. Watercress is high in antioxidants and it’s also a good source of vitamins A and C, helping to boost the immune system which is good for this time of the year. It’s also very low in calories which is always good news.
This is a very mild tasting soup, the watercress adds some peppery tones but it is overall a simple clean tasting soup, I will be having it accompanied with a salad but some crusty bread would be fabulous served with this soup. Be careful not to blend for too long or the potatoes go gloopy.
- 400 grams potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 1 large onion, chopped
- A splash of olive oil
- 250 mls vegetable stock (homemade if you have it otherwise try to find a stock that is lower sodium and doesn’t contain msg)
- 2 x 75 gram bags of watercress
- Add the olive oil to a large saucepan, when heated add the onions and potatoes. Stir to coat in the oil then turn the heat down, cover and leave to sweat for about 5 minutes, this will soften the onion and potato without browning.
- Add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, the potatoes should be almost ready.
- Add all the watercress, leave it resting on top and put the lid back on so the watercress can steam. Cook for 5 minutes, check to see that the potatoes are soft and the watercress wilted.
- Blend to your preferred smoothness. My husband likes no lumps at all so I use a blender but a more chunky finish with a stick blender is also nice.
- Serve immediately. This soup freezes well.
At this time of the year we are awash with recipes for soup. I have countless soup recipes on my “to make” list, yet still I seek more! Trying to get my husband to eat some/any vegetables is a constant trial. Vegetables blended in soup are my husband’s preferred way of eating vegetables, surprisingly even carrots. So when I saw this recipe I thought I was onto a winner. My version of that soup is a little more simple, I omitted the peanut butter to save a few calories. I find carrot soup verges on the over sweet for my taste so also left out the maple syrup. I prefer to use half coconut milk and half stock as I found all coconut milk added a little too much sweetness. I also like my soup a lot thinner so added more liquid.
This soup is so flavorful, extra sweet from roasting the peppers and carrots, the coconut milk adds another dimension to the flavour and for me the addition of chilli adds a punch of heat at the end. This soup is full of vitamin C and A and high in beta carotene all of which aid in boosting the immune system and are though to aid in the fight against cancer. At this time of the year, common for seasonal over indulgence its nice to have a quick, healthy meal up your sleeve.
Roasted Red Pepper and Carrot Soup (adapted from this recipe)
- 200 gram (7 oz) red peppers
- 450 gram (I lb) carrots (preferably organic)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 can (200 ml) light coconut milk
- 200 ml vegetable stock plus more for thinning, I use about an extra 2oo mls
- 1 tsp chilli flakes ( or less to your taste)
- Preheat the oven to 200 c, 400 f, Gas mark 6.
- Peel and chop the carrots into chunks of around 1.5 inches and place onto a baking sheet.
- Remove the seeds from the peppers and slice into 4-6 largish slices. (I used the longer red peppers) and place onto the baking sheet with the carrots.
- Sprinkle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast for around 40 minutes until the carrots are soft enough to pierce easily with a knife and the peppers have started to shrink and darken at the edges.
- If you have a blender tip the roasted vegetables into it and add the coconut milk, stock and chilli flakes. Blend until all the ingredients are well mixed and the resulting soup is thick and creamy. If you don’t have a blender use a stick/hand blender to blend all the ingredients in a saucepan the texture just wont be as smooth.
- Thin the soup with some more stock until you have the consistency you like.
Its breast cancer awareness month this month and I wanted to do a “pink” recipe post to highlight that. Cake was my first pink thought but as I’m staying unprocessed this month I thought I ought to do a healthier recipe! So staying pink(ish) I have a simple recipe today for roasted beetroot, roasting is something people often forget to do with beetroot. It really doesn’t take that long and you don’t even have to peel the beets!
Beetroot season has all but come to an end in my Mother in laws allotment, the weather being what it was this summer we didn’t have the glut of beetroot repeated from last summer so apart from some jars of pickled beets I’ve mostly roasted mine this summer. Roasted beets are amazing, so simple yet so flavoursome. Roasting them brings out their sweetness and loses some of the earthiness that a lot of people find off-putting. I love them so much I can eat them like candy!
Roasted beets couldn’t be simpler to make. Just wash, tumble in some olive oil, season and roast. I also like to add some balsamic vinegar to add to the sweetness. In an hour or so you will have the most wonderful accompaniment to whatever dish takes your fancy, or you could just stand and eat most of them like I often do!
Balsamic Roasted Beetroot (serves 2)
- 450 grams beetroot
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- I tbsp balsamic vinegar
- a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper (in keeping with the pink theme I used pink salt and pink peppercorns but regular will do.)
Preheat oven to 200 C, 400 F, Gas 6
- Wash the beetroot and trim off both ends and any hairy bits, don’t bother to peel.
- I advise wearing rubber gloves to avoid pink stained hands, cut the beets into chunks a little larger than bite size. With small beets halves or quarters are fine but some of the huge beets I get from the allotment means cutting much more!
- Put the beets into a roasting pan and drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over them. With your rubber gloves on, rub the olive oil and vinegar into the beets, ensuring each beetroot gets coated.
- Holding one end of a thyme sprig strip the stem of its leaves, letting them scatter over the beets.
- Season with salt and pepper and roast for about 1 hour or until the beets are soft when poked with a knife and have darkened in colour.
Its so important yet so easy to forget, don’t forget to check your breasts regularly.