Hardly ever seen until this year but now it's trendy and on every menu. It grows like a weed in my garden. My favourite way to use it is to rub my salad bowl with a big handful of the stuff and it will impart a lovely savoury Bovril like flavour. When used raw in dishes it can be very overpowering. The first young stalks of spring are the best for a delicious delicate flavour.
Harriet makes courgetti for her work colleagues.They take her courgettes from their gardens and she spiralises away in the evening. Well someone has to do it!
As the glut of homegrown fruit and vegetables reaches its' peak, here is a good way to preserve fresh basil leaves in the fridge for a week or two. Pick the fresh basil leaves and layer in an empty jam jar, with a sprinkling of coarse sea salt between the leaves and some very good olive or rapeseed oil to cover. The basil will retain a vibrant green colour and the oil a lovely flavour, both can be used in pesto or salads.
You can't get any more money through the lottery Local Food Grants but there are lots of interesting food projects going on around the country that are not food banks giving away pot noodles and instant mashed potato. There's a community vineyard, primary school allotments, a food circus and have a look at the size of the saucepans they have in Manchester in their Feeding 5000 project.
A delicious treat and the perfect way to use up those unripe tomatoes. Vegetarian too!
- 4 to 6 green tomatoes
- salt and pepper
- beaten egg
- vegetable oil for frying
Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 - 1/2-inch slices. Salt and pepper them to taste. Dip in the beaten egg and then the corn meal. Fry in hot oil for about 3 minutes or until golden on bottom. Gently turn and fry the other side. Serve as a side dish - delicious with breakfast!
Today I picked my whole crop of basil and turned it into pesto sauce ready to smother onto hot pasta. Pesto is very quick and easy to make, either in a mini food processor or by hand, with a pestle and mortar. You will need:
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup pine nuts ( or try walnuts for a change)
- 3 medium sized garlic cloves crushed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Crush the basil leaves, salt, pepper and garlic together adding the nuts and oil a little at a time. Keep working until you have a rough paste. Add the grated cheese and the last of the oil. Mix well and store in the fridge in a covered jar.
I keep a layer of oil on top of the sauce, to maintain the colour and texture.
In the Independent at the weekend - ' How realistic is the 'good life' dream? Can the seemingly insatiable public appetite for fancy foodstuffs offer hope to a legion of disillusioned city slickers seeking a way out of the rat race? And how many trendy niche food-stuffs can one economy sustain? Given global financial pressures and the sheer number of artisan products already on market, the luxury-food industry could be in real danger of eating itself...
Too late for my hand-fried crisps with hot sauce idea then?
This must be a great year for Walnuts, look at these booties. Did you know there are 50 varieties, so my Dad tells me, and according to scientists they are the healthiest nut of them all.
It's growing in my garden for the first time - after a year of picking off caterpillars, spraying, looking, poking and wondering if it was worth it, it has finally produced loads of delicious sprouting heads that are almost as good to eat as asparagus, which is good timing because now I need the space for some new plants.