Thursday, May 9, 2013


Eat Your Veggies...

We eat a lot of meat in Ireland, however our European neighbours view vegetables a little different than us.  We have been brought up with the idea that a meal is meat and 2 veg, however many of our European neighbours take a different approach and see meat and vegetables  as equals.   They will eat whole meals based on vegetables because they like them and have cooked this way all their lives.

We have access to a fantastic array of vegetables in this country.  Vegetables combined with a carbohydrate like Pasta, Noodles, Rice or Potatoes is an extremely economic way of putting a meal on the table.

We are also fortunate that many of our supermarkets, vegetable shops and markets stock Organic Vegetables.

The veggies that are in season at the moment are...

Asparagus, Aubergines, Beetroot, Broccoli, Broad beans, Cabbage, Cauliflower, French beans, mushrooms, pak choi, new potatoes, spinach, Radishes, Lettuces, peppers, radishes, scallions, tomatoes,
Strawberries, Rhubarb

Let’s look at Beetroot...

Beetroot is a fantastic vegetable but many of us steer away from it because of the bad experiences we have had with beetroot in jars sitting in the rather nasty vinegar.
Fresh beetroot is totally different experience (it is now possible to buy freshly cooked vac packed beetroot in supermarkets)

Why buying beetroot buy beets that are the same size and no bigger than a tennis ball, they will cook evenly if the same size.  Also make sure you buy beets that are intact and not bruised or have broken skin.

In Italy they often cook beetroot in a wood fire they pop it covered in its own leaves into the ashes for about 1 hour.   However, probably the easiest way to cook it at home is to pop them into salted water bring to the boil and simmer until it is slightly separated from the root; the skin should then simply slip off.

What can I do with Beetroot...?
Served beetroot sliced with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of parmesan.

Beetroot Salad
Slice and combine with crème fraiche and sprinkle with flaked almonds.

Roast Beetroot & Warm Goats Salad
Roast Beetroot on a baking tray drizzled with olive oil and serve warm with grilled goats cheese & rocket salad

Beetroot & Red Cabbage
Finely shred a small red cabbage, cover with some veggie stock  with 2 tbls of red wine vinegar and  1 tbls of sugar  cook for 1 hour.  Add a pinch of salt and pop in 3 cooked and finely shredded beetroot, simmer for 10 mins.

Simple Ideas with Vegetables in season right now..

Make a risotto with mushrooms, asparagus, & sweet roast red peppers, finish with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese & a little basil pesto.

Toss steamed broccoli & broad beans through penne pasta with a little lemon butter

Make a filling aubergine bake by layering fried aubergines between layers of cheese & tomato sauce, top with breadcrumbs and bake for 30 mins.

Noodles tossed with steamed pak choi, & broccoli sprinkle some sesame seeds & a little soy.

Make a veggie lasagne – roast a tray of peppers,  aubergines, mushrooms  onions & garlic – make a simple white sauce and layer sheets of lasagne with veggie mixture, sauce and top with grated mozzarella cheese..

Rhubarb & Strawberry Crumble

For the filling...
800g rhubarb
150g strawberries
50g caster sugar
1tbsp honey
For the topping
75g caster sugar
200g flour
100g oats
100g butter
50g flaked almonds
150ml  creme fraiche
1tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C. Roughly chop the rhubarb and add to a saucepan with the sugar, honey and a splash of water. Cook for about 15 minutes until softened. Pour the rhubarb into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with the uncooked strawberries.
In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar, flour, oats and butter, then rub together to an even texture. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit, then finish with the flaked almonds. Pop in the oven to  cook for 30 minutes until golden brown.
Mix the vanilla extract with the crème fraiche and serve with the crumble.

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