Category Archives: recipies

Broad bean risotto

I ended up having quite a disastrous year at the allotment: Too many unplanned jobs arose through the key seed-sowing time. That, plus stories from our allotment neighbours of mice decimating their ground-sown peas and beans, led me to never quite getting around to planting enough in time. I did, however, manage to sow enough field beans (var. ‘Wizard’).

2014-08-13 20.20.542014-08-13 20.21.05What a star crop! They fared better than the few longpod broad beans in the ground through the drought, and were less scarred by the winds a few weeks back. They are smaller than standard broad beans, but are prolific and taste fabulous. What’s more, if you crop them young there is no need to remove the skins. In fact, it’s our first year of growing this crop, so I have not seen old beans – you may never need to skin this variety.

As soon as I had enough broad & field beans, we sat down to a favourite risotto:

Broad bean & lemon Risotto
Serves 4

1-2 handfuls de-podded field beans
Other veg from allotment, chopped

3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5oz Carnaroli or Arborio risotto rice
A good glug of dry white wine
1 pint Marigold veg stock, near boiling
1 Strip of lemon peel
1 Bay leaf and handful chopped mint
Handful herbs from garden (thyme & oregano both work)

Juice from 1/4 lemon
25 g butter/vegan equivalent
Small handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped

1. Prepare the vegetables and herbs, and make the stock. Good risotto requires you to stir and add liquid gradually, so ideally you need to be ready to go before you add the rice. If you have time/space, make the stock in a pan next to the rice pan and keep it heated. Use a large, flat-bottomed pan for the rice.

2014-08-13 18.01.122. Lightly fry the onion in the oil. Well before it browns, toss in the garlic and stir for another minute. To brown the rice or garlic would spoil the flavour.

3. Add the rice, lemon peel and bay leaf and stir to coat with oil. After about 30 seconds, you will hear the rice beginning to crack. Stir to make sure the rice is toasting evenly for a minute or so.

4. Add the wine. Prepare for the sizzle and steam cloud! Stir until evaporated.

5. Add 1 ladle of stock to the rice and stir, gently and consistently.

6. When the rice has absorbed the stock, add another ladleful. The stock should be hot when added, which is why it is best to have it in a pan over heat, rather than poured from a jug.

7. Add the vegetables at around this point. It takes about 20 mins for risotto, so allow 8-15 mins for the veg depending on cooking times. Field beans require about 10 mins using this method, as does courgette.

8. Keep stirring and adding a ladleful of stock when the liquid has been absorbed / evaporated. The rice and liquid should be keeping a creamy consistency by now.

9. When cooked – al dente rice and liquid gone, remove from heat. Remove the bay leaf, lemon zest and woody herbs if used. Squeeze the lemon over the rice and stir. Add the butter or vegan spread and seasoning, and stir. Do this step quickly, stirring fast to cool the rice to slow further cooking. This dish should be glistening!

10. Serve with fresh mint.

I may not make the most perfect risotto in the world; I believe it is quite an art. But the kids love it, and it’s a great Monday night dinner to finish off any white wine leftover from the weekend.

Pea and mint is another tried and tested recipe, that works ever so well with mangetout from the plot. I grow 3 varieties of mint in the herb garden; the spearmint complements the peas fantastically, and I find the chocolate mint works very well with the broad beans.

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Winter home-grown dinners

With home-grown dishes far less frequent over the winter months, dinner on Monday night was a real treat. During a break in the rain I managed to spend about half an hour at the allotment. I dug a few leeks and snipped a selection of leaves: Bright Lights chard, Cavolo Nero and (what we think is) Red Ursa Kale.

Our stores of home-grown produce are really depleted now.  Given the small size of our plot that is no surprise. But in this dish our home-grown ingredients include garlic, leeks, the leaves and our 2013 chilli jam.

Stir fry with home-grown leaves & smoked tofu

In a wok, heat 1cm covering of vegetable oil

Smash 1 garlic clove and add to the oil

Fry the cubed, drained smoked tofu

Set aside on kitchen paper to drain

Wedge  1 small onion and finely chop 1 inch of ginger root

Prepare leaves, leeks and 1 stick celery

Add 1 tbsp sesame oil to wok

Fry ginger, onion and garlic in that order before adding leeks

Keep tossing the wok. Add 1-2 tbsp tamari sauce

Add 1-2 tsp Chilli Jam, or a freshly chopped chilli and a dash of honey if none

Add the celery and then the leaves

Squeeze half to a full lemon, and more tamari to taste

Season, then toss through smoked tofu cubes

Serve hot with egg-fried basmati rice

– Happy tummies, happy kids –

Greens 'n leeksGreensLeeksFrying cubed tofuChilli JamWinter stir fry

Roast tomato and yellow lentil soup

I found this recipe in a magazine in 2003, and it was one of the few things I could tolerate making and eating with morning sickness, despite the spices.

Every autumn, it’s usually the first recipe I hunt for in my folder when the herbaceous perennials start browning and the hint of wood smoke hangs in the air.

Roast tomato and yellow lentil soup with spiced yoghurt
Roast tomato and yellow lentil soup with spiced yoghurt

Roast Tomato and Yellow Lentil Soup with Spiced Yoghurt
Serves 4

6 ripe tomatoes, skinned

2 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp turmeric
1 red chilli, chopped
25 g butter/vegan equivalent
200 g yellow lentils, well rinsed
1.25 L vegetable stock or water.
Small handful of fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped

For the spiced yoghurt:

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp soya /greek yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F/gas mark 6. Chop the tomatoes in half, crossways. Put on a baking tray, season, then dust with the curry powder and drizzle over the olive oil. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.

Place the onion, garlic, cumin seed, coriander seed, turmeric and chilli in a pan with the butter/vegan equivalent and fry gently on a low to medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until the onion turns translucent. Add the lentils, turn up the heat to medium, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the stock, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the roasted tomatoes, and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the garlic, ground coriander, cumin and a pinch of salt to the yoghurt. When ready, pour the soup into warmed bowls, serve with a swirl of spiced yoghurt and scatter with the chopped mint.

On this occasion, I made a tomato-topped foccacia to serve with the soup.

For vegan equivalents, I substituted the butter with light olive oil and used soya yoghurt. Soya yoghurt (I had Alpro this time) is much runnier than the greek-style yoghurt, but it takes the spices beautifully and still sits on top of the soup for better presentation. I use marigold bouillon for making stock, it is both delicious and vegan!