Nothing beats fresh food from the garden, and kids love being involved at every stage. A lot of our fruit doesn’t make it from the garden to the kitchen as it’s eaten there and then. On the other hand we often find ourselves with gluts of veg and currants. Here are a few ideas on what we do with those. Few measurements, as they don’t need to be that precise, and everyone’s cookers are different anyway.
We use shallot, courgette, broccoli, peas, broad beans and French beans in any combination for a quick stir-fry. Start with the shallots/onions, broccoli and beans then add the softer veg.
For a quick vegetable tart, Roll out some shop bought puff pastry (buy it when it’s reduced and freeze it ready). Heat the oven to packet instructions. Half it width-ways and fold the edges over a cm or so. Brush with milk or egg. Weigh down the middle of the pastry (baking beads etc) and bake for about 10 minutes until starting to brown.
Stir fry some summer veg for about five minutes, until tender (as above). When the pastry has started to go brown, add the veg and a bit of cheese if you like. Put them in the oven until the pastry is golden brown and the cheese (if using) has melted. Serve hot.
Rhubarb crumble rocks. Mix in apple, pears or elderberries if you gave them, there are loads of good recipes online. Or try a crumble cake like this one from John Whaite.
One of my favourite things to do is juice rhubarb. It’s a bit faffy but the juice is incredible… if you like super sour sweets try this. We mix the juice with apple, or add it to crumbles etc to give a really fresh taste. It also goes well with pork, just baste it on and cook it as normal.
Berries and Currants
We end up with loads of frozen blackcurrants and other berries in the freezer, so we reduce it down to a sauce that can be used for cordial, smoothies or to add to puddings. Boil up the berries in a pan with a bit of water and heat slowly. Bash them every now and again to release the juice. After an hour or so, strain the mixture and let it cool. Put into pots and freeze. I never bother with topping and tailing for this, it’s too much faff. You can use this to make a nice compote to go on porridge.
Don’t forget you can freeze lots of fruit and veg too for winter when pickings are slim 🙂
Broad Beans (and Runner Beans)
We got a glut of broad beans and runner beans from Katie’s school garden. First we made a board bean pesto. Pod and skin the broad beans (surprisingly therapeutic, do it with the tele on). Toast a handful of nuts (almonds or hazelnuts), then blend them with the broad beans, a handful of parmesan (or similar hard cheese), a few sprigs of mint, and enough olive oil to make it a loose mix. Add some lemon juice at the end to taste. Great on a cracker.
Next we made a soup out of the remaining broad beans and the runner beans. Top and tail the beans and remove the stringy sides (use a knife or snap and peel). Chop into 2 cm pieces. Throw these in a pan with some water and heat gently for an hour or so to make a beany stock. In another pan, fry a couple of chopped shallots on a low heat until clear and soft (about 10 minutes). Add the runner beans and fry for a few minutes, then add the broad beans. Fry for a couple more minutes then add the beany stock. Heat for 10-15 minutes but don’t let it boil. Blend it all together. Strain it through a sieve if you like it smooth, or if you don’t mind the texture eat it lumpy.
Just made a lovely pesto with lettuce, rocket, sorrel, nasturtium leaves and flowers and beetroot leaves. Grab a handful of leaves, whizz them up with some nuts (whatever you fancy), add olive oil, grated Parmesan or Regianno, some lemon juice and the rind too. Delicious on mushrooms or crackers.
Hummus is my favourite. Roast the beetroot (skin on is better for flavour) for about 30 mins. When cool, chop the tops and bottoms off and skin them. Don’t worry about your purple hands, it’ll come off. Whizz the beetroot first until small, then add a can of chickpeas. Add some olive oil to get a slightly gloopy texture – from here you can experiment – lemon, cumin, mint, up to you.
One of the treats of the year – roast simply for 10-15 mins, then eat with a boiled egg, or hollandaise sauce, or a cheat equal mix of ketchup, mayo and mustard (this works well with potatoes too)