Home Grown Exotica!

Despite the cold and frosts of winter, some of my favourite, most beautiful & versatile vegetables have survived in the garden… And have proudly grown to gigantic proportions.   Less tender than when young, but still packed with flavour and nutrients.  We wanted to find a recipe that would let us indulge and enjoy, while  waiting for this year’s newly planted seeds to spring into life.

I’ve just planted seeds out for this year’s batch of Rainbow Chard (we always grow a variety called ‘Bright Lights’ ).

Chard makes a striking, fun edging to flowerbed boarders if you haven’t got the space or inclination for a veg patch.

It can be eaten in a similar way to spinach, and has similar nutritional benefits – just more colourful, hence the name.

I found Ottolenghi’s Iranian Vegetable Stew with Lime to be the perfect recipe –

We adjusted the ingredients using fragrant, freshly picked leaves from our lime tree, lemon slices in place of the fresh limes and chard leaves from the garden in place of the spinach.

It has an exotic depth and complexity of flavours – a wonderful main course with rice or pitta, or as an exciting side dish; I promise it will hold its own & not be out-staged by the main act  🙂

Ottolenghi's Iranian Vegetable Stew with Lime. Can be made Vegetarian, Wheat / Dairy Free.

Ottolenghi’s Iranian Vegetable Stew with Lime. Can be made Vegetarian, Wheat / Dairy Free.

http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/recipes/cooked-vegetables/iranian-vegetable-stew-with-dried-lime-shop

'Bright Lights' - even in the winter; on a good day, anyway.

‘Bright Lights’ – even in the winter; on a good day, anyway.

What is your favourite recipe using home-grown produce?

 

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Quick Chickpea Curry.

This is a cheat’s recipe – very quick, easy and made with usual store-cupboard ingredients.

If you are making it in the late spring or summer and are growing chard or spinach, put some leaves in at the last minute.

 

  • 2 tbsp sunflower, rapeseed or olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2cm piece of ginger, finely grated
  • Pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tsp curry powder or paste
  • 400g cooked chickpeas – soak overnight then cook according to packet instructions – or use tinned for speed.
  • 5 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • Juice of ½ lemon or a squirt of ‘lazy lemon’ juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh Chard or Spinach leaves to finish – or use coriander instead.

Gently cook onion in oil in a covered pan for about 8 – 10 minutes – this makes it lovely and sweet.  The pan cover should mean that it sweats but does not burn, but do check – it will need the occasional stir.

Uncover and add ginger, chilli, garlic and curry.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for a couple more minutes.

Add chickpeas, tomato sauce and water to make a curry-like consistency.

Simmer gently for about 5 minutes then add lemon and season to taste.

Stir in chard or spinach leaves just before serving – if you add them any earlier they may lose their lovely dark colour.

Sprinkle with chopped coriander to serve.

I also garnished with strips of skinned pimento (see ‘tips’).

(Based on a recipe by Hugh-Fearnley-Whittingstall).