A few mouthwatering recipes for your in-season veg

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Spicy purple sprouting broccoli with garlic, olives and Toasted breadcrumbs

This can be served as a sauce with pasta, or as an accompaniment to grilled or roast poultry.

Serves 4: 50g fresh breadcrumbs; 75ml olive oil; 600g purple sprouting broccoli, trimmed; 1 tbsp capers, soaked in cold water for 20 minutes, then squeezed dry and roughly chopped; 4-6 anchovy fillets, chopped; 6 garlic cloves, chopped; half teaspoon fennel seeds; a pinch of dried chilli flakes; 1 tbsp chopped parsley; 4 tbsp chopped black olives; sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Toss the breadcrumbs in 2 tbsp of the olive oil and spread th em out on a baking tray. Bake in an oven preheated to 200C for about five minutes, until golden. Remove and set aside.

Break the purple sprouting broccoli into separate small heads. Warm about 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a wide, shallow pan over a medium heat, add the broccoli and stir well.

Leave to cook for about 10 minutes, until you see the edges browning slightly, then season to taste and stir gently. Add the capers, then cover and cook for about five minutes, until the broccoli is tender.

Drizzle over the remaining olive oil and scatter with the chopped anchovies, plus the garlic, fennel seeds and chilli flakes. Toss to mix in. Cook for two more minutes, then add the parsley and olives. Sprinkle with the toasted breadcrumbs and serve. [From the Riverford Farm Cook Book.]

Purple sprouting broccoli with lemon and hazelnuts

Serves 4: 350g purple sprouting broccoli; 100g butter; juice and zest of half a lemon; salt and black pepper; 50g hazelnuts, halved and toasted.

Trim the broccoli and steam until just tender, but retaining a good bite.

Warm the butter and add the lemon zest and juice.

Arrange the broccoli stems on a large shallow dish or on individual plates (both warmed) and pour over the hot butter.

Season well with salt and pepper, and scatter over the toasted hazelnuts.

Rhubarb syllabub

Rhubarb is so extremely persistent that when historians and archeologists spot it in the middle of nowhere, they assume people must have lived there once.

Here is Sarah Raven’s recipe for the Elizabethan pudding, the syllabub.

Juice and grated zest of 1 orange; 100g caster sugar; 6 stems of young pink rhubarb (about 500g); 2 cardamom pods; 2 star anise. And for the syllabub: 284ml double cream; grated zest and juice of one large lemon; 3-4 tablespoons Grand Marnier, dry sherry or white wine; 100g caster sugar.

Preheat the oven to 190C. Warm the orange juice in a pan and dissolve the sugar in it. Cut the rhubarb into sections the length of your thumb and cook in the orange juice with the zest, cardamom and star anise for 10 minutes. Then cool the fruit. To make a syrupy juice, lift out the rhubarb pieces and boil up the juice till it thickens. To make the syllabub, put the cream, lemon zest and juice, alcohol and sugar into a bowl and beat for several minutes, until the mixture becomes thick and light. Remove the cardamom pods and star anise from the rhubarb. Put the rhubarb into individual glasses, spoon the syllabub mixture over the top and chill for a couple of hours.

Asparagus with bacon or pancetta

Boil a bunch of asparagus until just tender.

Drain it carefully, then lay the spears in a shallow baking dish. Heat the oven to 220C.

Melt a generous slice of butter in a shallow pan and fry a handful of diced pancetta, or mildly smoked bacon, until its fat is golden.

Tip it, and the butter, over the asparagus, then sprinkle with a little grated parmesan. Bake for 10 minutes, till the cheese has melted. [From Tender, by Nigel Slater]

Asparagus carbonara

One bunch of asparagus; 350g spaghetti or linguine; 4 eggs; 50g parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus extra to serve; 1 tbsp chopped chives, basil or tarragon; sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Prepare the asparagus by breaking off the end of each woody stalk and chopping the rest into 1.5cm pieces.

Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water until al dente, adding the asparagus three minutes before it’s done. In the meantime, beat the eggs together well. Drain the pasta and the asparagus, transfer immediately to a large warmed bowl and add the eggs, parmesan and some salt and pepper. Mix well.

The heat from the pasta will cook the eggs. Sprinkle with the herbs and serve immediately, with extra parmesan. [From the Riverford Farm Cook Book]

Spinach, orange and feta salad

For each person, wash a good handful of small, perfect spinach leaves.

Peel and thickly slice a large orange, preferably a blood variety, catching as much of the juice as you can. Make a dressing with some of the juice, olive and walnut oil in equal amounts and a little black pepper, but no salt.

Toss the leaves and orange slices in the dressing, then crumble over the feta cheese, keeping the pieces quite large. Add a few sprouted seeds perhaps, and some torn bread, toasted. [From Tender, by Nigel Slater]

Spinach and Yoghurt Salad

A dish from Persia and the Middle East, via Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book.

3 tbsp chopped onion; 60g (2oz) butter; half a kilo (1lb) spinach, cooked, roughly chopped; 150ml (quarter pint) natural yoghurt; 1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped; 1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon; salt, pepper, sugar

Cook the onion in butter until yellowish, but not soft. Add the spinach, stir it about well and give it a few moments longer to heat through properly and absorb the oniony flavor.

Mix the yoghurt, garlic and cinnamon in a basin. Add the spinach and onion mixture while still hot, stirring everything well together. Season to taste. Serve chilled.

Wild Garlic Soup

“Everyone’s into soups and salads, and people are certainly more adventurous than they used to be,” observes David Ferguson of Selkirk’s new vegetable shop Down To Earth.

So here’s an adventure for you, in both the forest and the kitchen.

About 50 wild garlic leaves, plus a few flowers to serve; 500ml milk; 25g butter; 2 shallots, finely chopped; half a red chilli, finely chopped; 100g potatoes, peeled and chopped; 4-6 garlic cloves, chopped; 200ml single cream; salt and black pepper.

Blanch the wild garlic leaves for a few seconds in boiling water. Refresh in cold water, drain and dry. Bring the milk to boiling point, take off the heat and add the wild garlic leaves. Leave to infuse until cold.

Heat the butter and sweat the shallots and chilli without allowing them to colour. Add the potatoes and the garlic cloves, and turn in the butter.

Add the milk mixture and cook until the potatoes are tender. Puree in a food processor and return to the pan. Add the cream and season with salt and pepper. Reheat without boiling. Serve the soup with chopped garlic flowers. [From Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook]