Mar 312015
 

Carrot top pestoOnce you know how to make carrot top pesto, you’ll never want to waste your carrot ‘greens’ ever again.

My recipe appeared online and then in my book The Permaculture Kitchen. Since then, I’ve seen carrot top pesto used by loads of people in all sorts of creative and scrumptious ways. I thought it’d be good to collect some of those ideas together as a source of inspiration. The recipe for the carrot top pesto aka ‘CTP’ is at the bottom of this post.

How to use carrot top pesto

Bread

Carla Tomasi made these delicious bread sticks with black pepper and CTP spread over the dough before she twisted and baked it. Ideal with drinks and antipasta.
Carla's bread sticksAlso good is the CTP spread on bruschetta or toast with one or more of cheese, olives, veg, anchovies or shellfish.

Pasta

Thane Prince used the CTP to dress penne in this scrummy pasta bake with cherry tomatoes.
Thane's pasta bakeYou can just as easily just mix it through cooked pasta: just leave some of the cooking water in the pasta to help make the ‘sauce’. Or use it with ricotta or mascarpone filled ravioli or other filled pasta. Peas go well in the stuffing.

Vegetable Tart

Francoise Murat spread the CTP over the base of a puff pastry case and filled with tomatoes and delicious vegetables. Just bake till tender.

Easy- spread on puff pastry, add roasted tomatoes (vinegar+sugar+oil), peas +vegies, mozzarella bake 20 mins  = trop trop bon!

Rice and grains

CTP is ideal mixed into risotto or with farro/bulgur and other grains.

Roasted and baked veg

I love CTP spread on all sorts of veg including potatoes, oca, mashua, aubergine, courgettes, carrots (!), parsnips, onions which are then roasted. Use as a filling for that warming baked potato.

Meat, chicken, fish & seafood

CTP is delightful spread on all these to roast, grill or pan fry. Stuff it under the breast skin of a chicken before roasting. Slather on salmon before you grill it. Pop a blob on a juicy steak as you serve it.

Carrots a large bunch

Carrot top pesto recipe

Ingredients

Feel free to scale the recipe to suit what you have available.

It’s important that you use the young, tender carrot tops. The leaves & stalks from larger ones tend to be a bit tough.

100g of young carrot tops (a large bunch)
1 clove of garlic, peeled (you can use more)
50g whole almonds (it doesn’t matter whether they are blanched or not) Hazelnuts would work well too.
50g parmesan, roughly diced
150ml extra virgin olive oil
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

If you need to, wash the leaves to get rid of any mud and grit. Pop them in a big saucepan over a high heat and pour over a large splash of boiling water. Cover the saucepan and boil for 2-3 minutes until the leaves are just wilted. Strain in a colander and refresh with cold water to stop them cooking. Drain completely and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. If you don’t need to do this, then you’ll get a fresher result.

Dry roast the whole almonds in a heavy based pan or in the microwave until they are nicely browned.

Cut the garlic cloves into slightly smaller pieces which will help them blend evenly.

Put the almonds, garlic and a small amount of the carrot leaves into a food processor. The carrot leaves help the other ingredients process well. Process until the almonds and garlic are finely chopped.

Add the rest of the carrot leaves and process until they are puréed. You’ll probably need to scrape down the sides of the processor a few times to ensure even processing. Add the parmesan cheese and process until well mixed, scraping down if needed.

What you’re going to do next is to add the olive oil to make a fluid paste. Add it gradually, stopping to test consistency and scraping down the sides. The consistency I was after I call ‘falling over’ consistency so that the pesto just falls into the blades of the processor as it turns. So, with the food processor running, gradually add the olive oil until you get your desired consistency.

Then check for seasoning. I added a good grind of black pepper and a couple of pinches of sea salt and processed that in.

Keep in the fridge covered in oil.

 Posted by at 17:09
Mar 302015
 

Padana Agrodolce
We spent a very happy few days in Ostia Antica near Rome with Carla Tomasi earlier this month. We ate like royalty and had lots of fun cooking with, and learning from, Carla. I’ll share some of the recipes in the coming weeks as I recreate them from my notes.

The first recipe is for griddled, sweet and sour marinated pumpkins or squash – aka, in Italian, zucca in agrodolce. As it happens, Carla was reminded of this Sicilian recipe by Rachel Roddy whom we also met there for a grand day in Rome.

Rachel was very kind to give us a swift tour around Rome in torrential rain and a tour (and lunch) in Testaccio where she lives. As with everyone we met in Italy, she and her partner Vincenzo were incredibly generous. Look out for Rachel’s first book Five Quarters: Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome which I’m very much looking forward to.

Here’s the recipe on Rachel’s blog, I’ll let her tell the story as she writes beautifully. Variations from Carla and from me are below…

I used a padana squash that we’d grown last year…
Padana pimkin Carla varied the recipe by including some mint, parsley and a little chilli when she put in the vinegar. I used a mixture of Emporer’s mint and oregano. Carla and I used apple cider vinegar.

Agrodolce cooking on Carla stove

Cooking on Carla’s stove

Chicken and lentilsAt Carla’s we had it first with a Roman pan roast lamb and then next day as part of a huge lunch when another Testaccio resident Sigurd came for lunch. It tastes even better after a good chance for all the flavours to blend.

I served it first with chicken and some dressed lentils.

The next day, I chopped up the pieces so they were smaller and used it to coat some penne – molto bene.

This is a crackingly simple and delicious dish, let me know how you like it 🙂

 Posted by at 14:15
Jun 272014
 

Garlic Scape Pickles

Here at Legge Towers the weather has been just gorgeous since May. Which has made up somewhat for the slow and cold start to the year. We had to resow courgettes when the first lot sown in early March on heat succumbed to the less than stunning early May temperatures. So we’ve worked really hard outside for the last few weeks.

Garlic harvest - Carcassonne Our garlic has done very well and we harvested the lot this weekend. The best performing variety was a hardneck type (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon) called Carcassonne. They’re great sized bulbs with a very good taste and developed great scapes. The scapes have a mild garlic heat & taste and they’re one of our summer treats.

Use the scapes in the kitchen wherever you would use garlic. You use them in bean and vegetable dips, soups, stir fries, risottos, tarts and salads. They’re gorgeous moistened with some olive oil and barbecued, griddled or grilled for a minute or two. Just season to serve with a little sea salt and perhaps a splash of extra virgin olive oil.

Yesterday, I used them to make a modified Sicilian style fritedda. Fresh picked broad beans, peas and artichokes are sautéed and then mixed with herbs, extra virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar.

I’ve vacuum packed and frozen some of the enormous scape harvest we had. You can also make oil & pesto with them. One of my favourite scape preserves though are quick & easy pickles. Great as antipasta or as a side with vegetables, seafood meat grills or in a salad. Read on to find out how to make them. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:50
May 302014
 

Fermented mustard greensI wish I’d got to know mustard greens (and reds and goldens) much earlier in my growing adventure. They are such a tasty, versatile and good-hearted vegetable. And some of the varieties are great green manures, ground cover and biofumigants.

Here at Legge Towers we sow them in mid to late summer so that we can put them in the polytunnel to over winter. They get cut down by frost outside in winter, but in the polytunnel, sometimes with a little extra fleece protection they do fine.

They make a good quick green manure which may survive a kind winter, but you can also re-sow early in spring. Certain varieties (like Caliente) are good before potatoes as the gases given off by the leaves when cut down can help prevent wire worm and other pests – this is the biofumigant. You need to cut down and work in the leaves quickly though. More info on this here.

Just to say, we don’t tend to use them in the spring and summer. This is because there’s plenty else around and because we find they bolt quickly if it gets hot or dry for long (it does occasionally happen).

The mustards give us with little leaves for salads to start with. Then we get bigger leaves to use in stir fries or as a steamed/wilted veg. You can also make a lovely mustardy pesto with them. In the spring they produce wonderful flower shoots to use like sprouting broccoli.

Very tall mustard greens at end of seasonThen, as you can see they climb!

By this time, I’m thinking of the next crop that will occupy the space for the summer months. This year, I didn’t want to just compost the remains (after shredding the woodier parts). I thought I could use the more tender parts to ferment to make a tasty snack and accompaniment.

And did that work well? Oh yes. Read on to find out more. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:21

Wild garlic slaw recipe

 Foraging, Forest Garden, Permaculture, Recipes, Seasons, Spring, Vegetable  Comments Off on Wild garlic slaw recipe
Apr 112014
 

Wild garlic slawSpring is a joy not least because of the re-emergence of the wild garlic.

There’s lots of publicity in the UK at the moment about eating more vegetables. I’ve been having fun concocting meals where I replace the normal carbohydrate element (potatoes, pasta, rice etc) with tasty veg. In this recipe, I added a big hit of toasted seeds and nuts for added crunch, taste and nutrients.

Wild garlic slaw recipe

I served this slaw with a chicken & tomato sauté. It could easily be a great breakfast, healthy lunch or snack as well as an accompanying vegetable. I suggested to my son it could be a great Uni meal made in big quantity and used to dip into to save time for studying 😉

Ingredients

Vary these to suit what you have available and to suit your taste. I fancy this with some fresh ginger, chilli and coriander leaf next. You could use raw or confit garlic instead of the wild garlic. Other leaves such as chard, spinach or mustard would be nice too.

10 wild garlic leaves (use flowers too if they are there)
10 stems of Egyptian walking onion (or use the tops of spring onions or finely sliced red onion)
1 large carrot, cut into fine strips
2 or 3 big handfuls of shredded white cabbage
2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
45 ml sweet redcurrant vinegar (or use cider or rice vinegar and add a tsp of caster sugar)
135 ml of olive oil
125ml (1/2 cup) sunflower seeds, toasted
125ml (1/2 cup) blanched almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

Slice the wild garlic across into very fine strips. Chop the onion stems into small rounds of about 3mm.

Mix the carrot, white cabbage, wild garlic and onion together into a salad bowl.

Dressing bottleMix the vinegar and olive oil together and add some salt & pepper to taste. I use a recycled maple syrup container to do this. I’ve put markings on for my 1:3 vinegar to oil ratio on it. I can then shake it up to emulsify the dressing and squirt a controlled amount on  salads. I keep any left over in the fridge.

Pour enough dressing on the veg so they are well coated without being drowned. Give the ingredients a good toss. Have a taste and correct seasoning if you need to.

Sprinkle the seeds on the slaw and mix. Serve.

It’s as easy as that.

What’s your favourite seeds and nuts for slaws?

 

You might also like:Wild garlic mash, warm chickweed salad & seafood
Wild garlic and smoked salmon carbonara
Wild garlic and homemade ricotta pasta

 Posted by at 11:05
Apr 092014
 

Ottoman Lamb with Sultan's DelightOne of the easiest ways you can make your meal planning easier, cook more frugally and seasonally is to make a major ingredient go further. Here I show you how I used a £20 joint of local Welsh lamb leg to make three different meals for the three of us.

I’ve cooked a lot of Diana Henry lately. Well, not literally. But I’ve used her new book A Change of Appetite and her 2002 book Crazy Water Pickled Lemons as inspirations. I’m going to review A Change of Appetite in detail soon. Suffice to say, it’s bold, imaginative and may change your views about what to cook and eat.

Roast Ottoman Lamb with Sultan’s Pleasure

Diana has a fab recipe for Ottoman Lamb with Sultan’s Pleasure. This appears here in The Telegraph.

I cooked the dish as per the recipe except I used dry sherry for the red wine (it’s what I had to hand). Also, I didn’t drain off the marinade which was delightfully thick as I made it with full fat Greek yoghurt. I couldn’t bear to throw it with all those lovely flavours in.

I served the dish with wholemeal roti (like chapatis or tortilla wraps – I  made a dozen from my recipe in The Permaculture Kitchen) and fresh Nine Star perennial cauliflower with kale shoots from the garden dressed in a thick anchovy vinaigrette. It was scrummy and felt very decadent. As you can see from the pic above, I served the lamb  slightly pink.

Pulled lamb wraps with sauteed veg

The next day, I had the lamb, six roti, some of the Sultan’s Delight and half the cauliflower (uncooked) left over. I popped the lamb in the oven for another three hours on a low heat, covered with some water in the pan. It cooked so it was falling apart. I sautéed the cauliflower florets with some purple sprouting broccoli and red onion strips.

Nine Star perennial cauliflowerI shredded the lamb and mixed it with some of the roasting juices, and gently reheated the Sultan’s Delight. I blitzed the roti in the microwave for a couple of minutes. We then made up wraps with the shredded lamb on a bed of ‘Delight‘ with the veg on the side. So, so good. We all wanted more, but had no more room. I’d not wasted any ingredients and the meal was ready in a trice.

So now I just had some of the shredded lamb in its juices left.

Lamb with pak choy, flowers and brown rice

I picked some pak choy that was going to flower from the garden along with some turnip tops in the same condition. So I had flowers and some big leaves. I cut the ribs from the pak choy leaves and cut these into chunks. I shredded a couple of carrots and put these with the ribs. I roughly shredded the leaves and put these to one side with the flower tops.

I cooked some wholemeal basmati rice.

I stir fried the carrot shreds with the pak choy ribs, then added the lamb & juices and brought this to a simmer. Then I added the leaves and flowers and covered the pan. I covered this to simmer & steam the leaves and flowers.

I then served the lamb and veg mix on top of the wholemeal rice. Another very quick and frugal meal which was healthy and seasonal.

While you may not have precisely the ingredients I have to hand, I hope this shows how you can use a major ingredient with a little imagination to make the best use of it. Also how you can prepare these follow-on meals quickly to save time in a busy week. And finally, how seasonal veg make a key contribution to your diet.

Would you like to see more of my multi-day meals? Do you have favourites of your own? Please let me know in the comments.

 Posted by at 10:55
Feb 112014
 

Three-cornered leek deliveryThis box arrived courtesy of a very generous Lindsay on Twitter. Lindsay has a wonderful surfeit of these in Devon and needed an ID for it. She also wanted to be rid of some and so one thing led to another.

Allium triquetrum flowers

Allium triquetrum flowers by Kenpie WikiMedia Commons

It’s allium triquetrum or three-cornered leek (aka three-cornered garlic). It’s so called because of the cross-section of the leaf. Wild garlic (allium ursinum, ramsons) has a broader, flatter leaf and is only just poking out of the ground now. Like wild garlic, it has white flowers.

It’s a mediterranean plant which has naturalised in the south-west of England and prefers a moist but well-drained soil. It will spread by division and seeds extensively. It’s treated as a weed and invasive species in many places. It’s an offence to plant in the wild in England & Wales.

It tastes like a grassy leek or garlic with a lingering aftertaste. It’s not as pungent as garlic or as spicy as chives.

So I felt I had to come up with some culinary treatments for it. Read on for the details…
Continue reading »

 Posted by at 18:13
Nov 172013
 

Close up of posy in pottery jug

November Posy

The weather forecasters are promising a drop in temperatures and frosts next week. This will put an end to some of the flowers still soldiering on in the garden, giving their all. We are usually lucky here: we live on a peninsula and so we’re surrounded by the sea; our frosts are mostly light and often late.

I took the opportunity to keep the summer going just a little bit longer and brought some of those flowers into the house.

Tussie mussies

My mum taught me how to make tussie mussies when I was little and I have continued to make them. I make them as a ‘thank you’, for birthday and anniversary presents, to mark the birth of a baby or just because…

I tightly pack and bind flowers, herbs and foliage to give a posy which will delight the eyes and nose.

Collecting and arranging my bounty

I wandered round the garden and collected my bounty. I was amazed at the variety that was available. I always put a single flower in bud at the centre and found a romantic pale pink rose for this.

Posy overhead viewThen I picked the rest of the ingredients: four stems of each. I found mints, rosemary, lavender, thyme, periwinkle, pinks, lemon balm, oregano, Japanese parsley, winter honeysuckle, winter jasmine, camomile, mashua, creeping borage, Californian poppy, yarrow, brassica flowers and fennel. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some.

When the weather is warm I make the posy outside and often have bees land on the flowers I have picked. On this occasion it was too cold to stay still outside so I brought my goodies indoors.  I stripped the leaves from the bottom of the stems and then, starting with the rosebud, began tying in the stems. There is a symmetry to the posy as each group of stems are added in turn. Finally I put an outer layer of fennel stems to finish it off.

Usually when I make these posies, I am more discerning about what goes into them – a colour or scent theme or such like,  but this was to extend the summer and had a bit of everything in it.

Porth Llwyd Jug

Posy in pottery jug

I will change the water every day in the little jug it sits in. I love the jug, it’s gorgeous and a gift from Porth Llwyd Pottery from my friend Nina. The posy should last for 2-3 weeks by doing this and in this little corner of North Wales we will still have a little bit of summer.

What do you do to keep summer going in your house?

 Posted by at 19:06
Aug 142013
 

Courgette cake

What to do with all those courgettes now that we’re having a summer at last?

Here at Legge Towers, the courgette harvest is ‘extensive’. Not surprising as we have eight plants for the fruit and six for the flowers… And the flower producing plants also produce some fruit too.  So I had a good trawl of the Internet courtesy of our favourite search engine and tweaked things to put together this recipe.

Courgettes help produce a moist, light and gently green-flecked cake. Some spice & orange zest makes the cake warm, zingy & cosy.

The method is an absolute doddle. You can have the ingredients put together in 20 minutes.

Fancy a go? Read on for the recipe…

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 13:40
Mar 292013
 

Puntarelle plants one month from sowing

How to grow Puntarelle

In my last blog post, I showed you how to use this versatile vegetable. As promised, I’ll tell you how to grow them in this post.

We found these very easy to grow last year even with all the rain and lack of sun.

If you’d like me to show you how to grow them,  please read on…
Continue reading »

 Posted by at 12:16
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