Summer vegetable minestrone

The vegetable garden is growing really well in spite of the high winds trashing the potatoes and the beans. This afternoon I started thinning out the root vegetables and removing some random kale plants that had self-seeded in amongst the leeks. I used about 500g of thinnings and leaves to make this soup. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • A mixture of vegetables. I had some mizuna greens, orache, Russian kale, carrots, mange tout, and some small beetroot tops. All washed and chopped small
  • A small onion, finely chopped. 
  • Celery salt
  • Marigold stock
  • 2 tbsp Green pesto sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Around 1/5 litres of boiling water
  • A handful of soup pasta, such as quadretti or stelline
  • Freshly grated pecorino or parmesan cheese

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil on a low flame, and gently fry the onion until it is soft. 
  • Add the vegetables in the order in which they will cook, slowest to fastest. I added the carrots, then the beetroot tops, mizuna and kale, then poured over the boiling water, and seasoned with celery salt, black pepper, and some marigold stock powder. 
  • Once the kale is beginning to cook, then add the orache and peas, and the soup pasta. Check for taste and simmer until the pasta is just about done. 
  • Stir the pesto into the soup, and serve sprinkled heavily with grated parmesan or pecorino. 

Mushroom and pea curry

The pea season is coming. The mange tout are already ready, and some of the peas are podding up nicely. I did a massive pick-through of the peas at Tagsa Horticulture, and made this curry based on one in ‘Curry Easy’ by Madhur Jaffrey

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped finely
  • half a can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 punnets of chestnut mushrooms, around 400 to 500g, chopped into chunks.
  • 300g peas, could be frozen, or mange tout, freshly picked and halved

METHOD:

  • Combine the dry spices in a bowl and add around 1 1/2 tbsp water to make a paste
  • Pour the oil into a medium pan, and heat to medium hot. Add the onion and start to stir and fry, until the onion is becoming a little browned at the edges. 
  • Add the spice paste, cook for a minute and then add the tomato, mixing and stirring. 
  • After about five minutes, when the tomato is hot and beginning to cook down, add 450ml boiling water and the salt. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes
  • Add the chunks of mushroom, bring back to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. 
  • Add the peas, bring back to a simmer and cook for a further 5 minutes. 

This was best served warm, rather than hot, with a flat bread such as a nan. 

Broad bean and dill kuku (baked omelette)

The season for this dish is coming soon, but I just longed for it. I had eggs, some frozen broad beans from last year, and some dried dill, and it was very good. It will be even better when my dill plants and broad beans are ready. Thanks to Susannah and Alexander for the eggs. 

Thank you to ‘nightingales and roses‘ for the recipe. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500-600g broad beans
  • 4 eggs, lightly  beaten
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 60g fresh dill, chopped, or 2 tbsp dried
  • 4 tbsp oil

METHOD:

  • Defrost the beans, if using frozen beans. For larger beans, remove the tough outer skin. 
  • Heat the oven to 190C. 
  • Mix the salt, baking powder, pepper, garlic, flour and turmeric and beat into the eggs. Squish any lumps, then fold in the beans and dill. 
  • Oil a 20cm springform tin with half the oil, and heat it in the oven. When the tin is hot, pour in the mixture and return to the oven. 
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven, and brush the remaining oil over the top. Return to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the top has a lovely golden crust.

Serve with a radish salad, flatbread, a yoghurt dip, some fresh walnuts. 

Borlotti bean and vegetable stew

I found the original recipe I was given rather sweet, so I have reduced the amount of honey in the recipe here. I’m currently trying out all sorts of recipes with potato in, if you hadn’t noticed. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can of borlotti beans
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 8 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 carrots, 1cm dice
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 dried chillies, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp mild dried chilli flakes
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice of half a lemon, about 2 tbsp
  • a good grind of black pepper
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to serve

METHOD: 

  • Heat the oil over a medium flame, and fry the onion, garlic and carrot for around ten minutes. Keep stirring so that the vegetables don’t catch. 
  • Add the tomato paste, chillies and chilli flakes, and cook for a minute. 
  • Add the borlotti beans, potato, dried basil and salt and cook for a few minutes to heat everything through
  • Add 500ml boiling water and the lemon juice, and simmer for around twenty minutes until the potato is cooked. 
  • Add the black pepper and honey to taste, and stir the parsley through. Leave the stew for around ten minutes before serving, to allow the flavours to mingle. 

Chinese potato stew

This is a delicious vegetarian stew, it reheats well, and is very forgiving with variations on the vegetables. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 slices of fresh ginger, peeled and crushed
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 4cm cubes
  • 1 pack of green beans, sliced into 4cm lengths
  • 2 carrots, cut into 4cm batons
  • 1 punnet of mushrooms, cut into 4cm chunks (or whole if you picked the right size at the shop)
  • 4 tbsp dark soy sauce (Chinese Soy Sauce)
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp dry sherry or shaohsing wine

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan, medium to high heat, and when it is hot, add the ginger and garlic, fry for around 15 seconds. 
  • Add the potatoes, beans and carrots, and stir for another minute.
  • Add the mushrooms, and fry for another minute.
  • Add around 500m boiling water, the soy sauce, sugar and wine, and bring back to the boil. Cover, turn the heat down low and simmer for around twenty minutes. 
  • Remove the cover and turn the heat up, boiling the sauce down, stirring gently as you go. You are aiming to get down to a thick gravy-like sauce which coats the vegetables. 
  • If you want to prep ahead and reheat for after work, leave a little more sauce, so that this boils down as you reheat it. 

Sprout soup

This recipe is very forgiving; you can vary the stock base, the proportions of the vegetables or the herbs you use, whether or not to include chestnuts or cream. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 4 tbsp sherry (subst wine if no sherry available)
  • 250g brussels sprouts
  • 500ml stock (increase if you are not using chestnuts)
  • pinch of dried tarragon
  • 200g chestnut puree
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp single cream

METHOD:

  • Chop the onion, and fry gently in the butter and vegetable oil, for around 5 minutes, so that it starts to soften without browning.
  • Add the sherry, bring to the boil and when the alcohol has boiled off, add the sprouts, stock, tarragon and pureed chestnuts, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for around 15 minutes. 
  • Use a soup blender and whiz until smooth. Season and add the cream, if using. 

 

Courgette and Tomato Gratin

Although the ingredients for this recipe appear simple, it requires careful cooking to get it right. If you do not cook the ingredients down properly, it can be slightly bitter and watery. Done well, it is amazing, more than the sum of its parts.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 70g butter
  • 800-900g courgettes
  • 1 tin organic chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • Wholemeal breadcrumbs

METHOD:

  • Use a peeler to peel the courgettes lengthwise. Do not peel completely, leaving a few strips of the green skin. Then slice them into thin rounds about half a centimetre thick.
  • Put the sliced courgettes in a colander and salt them, and leave them to drain for at least half an hour. Put a plate on top of them to press them down.
  • Put the chopped tomatoes, 10g of butter, chopped parsley and the garlic in a medium pan with salt and pepper and simmer very slowly to make a very thick paste.
  • In the meantime, put the sliced courgettes onto a tea-towel and mop up all the surface water, getting them as dry as possible.
  • Cook about half of the sliced courgettes in 20g of the butter. Start by gently melting the butter; do not let it colour brown. Add the courgettes and cook on a low heat until they are transparent. Repeat for the rest of the courgettes and another third of the butter. Doing them in two separate batches allows you to cook all of the courgettes properly.
  • Amalgamate the tomatoes and the courgettes, and put the mixture into an oven ready dish. Smooth down the top and strew with breadcrumbs, just a light layer. Dab a little more butter over the surface. Put the dish in the top of a hot oven (around 190C) for 25 minutes and serve very hot when the surface is a deep golden brown.

This would be a good accompaniment for pork or lamb, or served as a light meal with a baked potato .

Spicy fried potatoes

I think of these as tiny square spicy chips – they should be crispy and flavoursome. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Around 700g potatoes, diced to around 1cm cubes
  • 5 tbsp veg oil, such as rapeseed or sunflower oil
  • 1/8th tsp asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder, such as Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat, and add the asafoetida, mustard seeds and cumin seeds, and let them sizzle for a minute, so that the mustard seeds pop. 
  • Add the potatoes, stir and sprinkle in the turmeric. 
  • When the potatoes start to brown, add the coriander, cumin, chilli and salt and turn the heat up to hot. Fry for another couple of minutes so the potatoes are crispy on the outside. 

A great side-dish, or serve with a fried egg on top. 

Carrots with dill and hot green chillies

I must have first tried this recipe in the 1980s, it is hand-written in an old jotter that I used to copy out some recipes clipped from newspapers. I remember collecting recipes from the Sunday Times; they ran a series by Madhur Jaffrey about regional recipes around the Indian subcontinent. 

I have some very large carrots still to harvest this year. I grew a yellow variety that has a very firm flesh ideal for adding to stews, and for this dish. There’ll be more carrot-based dishes to come. Most spices are available in local shops. I bought some of them from Seasoned Pioneers, who retail spices online. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cm ginger root (or 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • 2 hot green chillies
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 20g chopped dill leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt

METHOD:

  • Peel and slice the carrots, peel and finely chop the ginger
  • Heat the oil in a karhai or wok over a medium heat. When it is hot, add in sequence the cumin seeds, asafoetida, ginger and whole chillies, stirring between each addition. 
  • As the ginger begins to brown, add the sliced carrots, coriander and turmeric. Stir and fry for a couple of minutes
  • Add the dill and salt, turn the heat to low and cover with a lid. Cook for another couple of minutes, until the carrots are cooked. 
  • Remove the carrots from the oil and drain away most of the oil. 

This is delicious as a side dish, with rice and a range of other curries. Last night I was just on my own so I had it with a little bit of nan and yoghurt.

Potato and carrot curry

We have lots of delicious potatoes, so when my daughter came over, we cooked this curry. It uses coconut milk along with spices to make a fragrant curry. We served this with a salad of grated beetroot, flavoured with toasted cumin, and dressed with lemon juice and salt. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil, or other vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp whole black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp yellow split peas
  • 2 whole dried birds-eye chillies
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 1/2 can chopped tomatoes, or a couple of medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • a small pinch of cayenne
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 400g potatoes (we used charlotte) and 100g carrots (we used yellow carrots) – cut into 2cm large chunks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • Chopped coriander leaves

METHOD:

  • In a medium saucepan, heat up the oil and then add the mustard seeds, yellow split peas and chillies. After a minute or so, they’ll start popping. Add the onions and basil leaves as soon as this happens. Turn the heat down a bit and cook until the onion has softened. 
  • Add the coriander, cayenne, tomatoes and garam masala, and stir to mix. Add the potatoes and carrots along with around 250ml water and the salt, bring to the boil and then simmer on a low heat for 15+ minutes
  • When the potatoes are cooked, add the coconut milk and fresh coriander leaves, and heat through, stirring. 
  • Serve with other dishes, for example a salad, or dal, or a kale dish.