It only seems a few weeks ago that I strolled around the garden each morning urging things to grow, show their heads, say ‘hello’ – and now I am wondering what on earth I’m going to do with all the fruit and vegetables I’m picking. In just a few short weeks, the garden has literally exploded!
Hands up those of you who grow-your-own fruit & veg? If you do, I’m sure you’ll agree there is little greater reward than planting, nurturing and harvesting your very own home-grown produce. Not everyone is fortunate to have a garden or outdoor space, but you’ll be amazed what you can grow in a few inches of compost on a simple windowsill or a recycled pot on the doorstep: herbs, tomatoes, even strawberries.
I spent a rare and indulgent day pottering in my own garden yesterday. With my feet firmly on fertile soil, I feel grounded – it’s a chance for happy solitude, to de-stress with gentle exercise (or hearty, depending on the job!), to be creative, and to nourish oneself with real, wholesome foods. What I notice most is the smell of super fresh food and that, of course, lends to it’s taste and enjoyment. But above all, time employed in the garden it a chance to savour the ever-constant in this increasingly ever-transient world.
What’s in season? Oh, so much! Where to start? My garden is overflowing with vegetables, lush and hydrating salad leaves, and herbs. My broad (fava) bean plants are leaning steeply with bulging pods. The broad bean is a much undervalued vegetable: lightly steam it, pop it out of it’s bitter coat and dress simply so as not to disguise it’s delicate sweetness; or add some rocket, torn mint leaves and ricotta; or whizz up with olive oil, oodles of garlic, cumin, salt and lemon juice for the most perfect summertime hummus. Spinach, too, is so simple and versatile: lightly sauté with garlic and chilli; eat raw in salads, or add to the juicer for a healthy green start to the day. There is no excuse to avoid these super-charged and flavoursome seasonal gems.
And this month I get to indulge in two of my favourites: asparagus & rhubarb
Rhubarb . . . a nostalgic, old-fashioned veg with uber-modern appeal. This outlandish, vibrantly coloured vegetable is currently the star in my garden – and I love it.
It’s a vegetable, not a fruit
Rich in several B-complex vitamins and vitamin C
Superb source of iron, potassium and manganese
Red rhubarb carry more Vit A (vital for healthy skin) than the green variety
Like kale & spinach, rhubarb also contains Vit K which is important for bone and brain health
One cup of rhubarb contains as much calcium as milk (on a par with salmon and spinach)
Contains fibre and is good for intestines (making you regular)
Super easy to freeze so you can enjoy it year round
Partner it with meat (lamb or beef), oily fish such as mackerel, cheeses such as goat’s cheese, or sprinkled raw onto salads – rhubarb has much wider appeal than the humble rhubarb crumble or fool.
Here are a few rhubarb recipes to inspire you:
Back to Basics – Rhubarb Compote // Serves 4
5 sticks of rhubarb, leaves removed (don’t eat the leaves!),
washed and finely chopped
Juice of 2 oranges
2 tsp coconut sugar
Put all of the ingredients into a pan and heat on a medium heat for 15 minutes or until the rhubarb has completely reduced into a smooth texture.
Serve with coconut yogurt or use in dressings and salads. Great for popping in the freezer, too.
Rhubarb Chia Pudding (serves 1)
2 tbsp chia seeds soaked in 1 cup of milk of choice (I suggest almond milk) with a pinch of pure vanilla powder and a pinch of ground cinnamon.
Mix well and leave to soak for 30 mins.
Layer in a pot with the rhubarb compote above.
Smoked Mackerel, Rocket, Beetroot & Rhubarb Salad with an Orange & Ginger Dressing
The compote worked beautifully in a salad I made with flaked pieces of smoked mackerel, rocket, fresh beetroot cut into very thin slices using a potato peeler.
Dress with an orange & ginger dressing.
One of the first vegetables of the year to be harvested, is now in season here in the UK. It’s a short season, so make the most of them! High in antioxidants, vitamins A and C, potassium, iron and calcium, asparagus are also diuretic, carry anti-inflammatory properties and can help balance blood sugar levels – this makes them an especially healthy treat. What’s more, they are renowned as an aphrodisiac 😉 Eat super fresh in simple recipes (wrap ends in dampened paper or cloth and pop in the fridge to keep fresh for longer).
Last weekend, I served lightly steamed asparagus picked straight from the garden to friends as a starter with this delicious . . .
Red Pepper Dip
4 tablespoons cashew nuts
6 Romano Peppers
8 cherry tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons chili flakes
Good pinch of sea salt
Soak the cashew nuts over night.
Halve the peppers and place under the grill skin side up with the tomatoes for 10 minutes.
Cook the onions and garlic in the olive oil until soft.
Peel the bubbling skins from the peppers.
Rinse the cashew nuts.
Put all ingredients into the blender.
Let me know what you are growing and eating? Happy June x