Posts tagged with "vegetables"

These Catalan Montserrat tomatoes I’ve grown this year have been like works of art as well as delicious. Definitely one for next year.

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Montserrat tomatoes, thinly sliced and dressed with some good olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt and black pepper. Simple and delicious.

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Dinner from the allotment

Mr Greedy Gardener made some cracking chips from the King Edwards I lifted yesterday to go with salmon fillet with a green fennel seed and parsley dressing, rocket, pea shoots, burnet and chervil salad and a few San Marco tomatoes with garlic, balsamic vinegar and basil on the side. Apart from the fish, some olive oil and a lemon, all ingredients home grown. Eaten in the grade with the sun setting behind the trees.

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Sunny and breezy day at the allotment, one of those days that feels like you’re at the seaside, even though you’re landlocked. Spuds are lifted, onions drying and I cut back all the dead stems from the artichokes and seakale. Lovely

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Mini San Marzano tomatoes at various stages of ripening

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Home grown and local food

August and September are when the garden and allotment are at their most abundant and with the widest variety of fresh food. Last night’s dinner was courgette flowers stuffed with ricotta, basil and chives, mixed tomato salad, grilled courgettes with lemon and garlic and a salad of mixed leaves and edible flowers. The meal was accompanied by a very nice multi grain sourdough from Loaf and the salad dressed with raspberry vinegar from Cuffufle Preserves.

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Courgettes in flower

A few days ago, I recorded a podcast for Canadian internet radio station Back to My Garden - it will be available on iTunes later in the autumn. One of the things we talked about was courgette flowers. The interviewer was frustrated that his courgettes were taking their time in producing female flowers and therefore fruit, leaving him with only males. The two open flowers on the left and right of the picture above are female, with tiny courgettes growing beneath. The downward pointing flower is one a day older which has started to close - this will wither and drop off in a few days as the fruit grows. A couple of male flowers which are on a straight stem can be seen towards the centre of the image.

Whilst both male and female flowers are necessary for the creation of fruit, the males often appear before long before the females but not everyone realises that they can both be eaten. Unless you live near a lovely market in Italy or France, courgette flowers are almost impossible to buy fresh. Even when you do find them, they cost a fortune, so they are one of the treats that people who grow their own veg can tuck into in much heartier quantities than you would get in a fancy restaurant.

I dip them in a simple batter made from egg and flour with maybe a little chopped sage or stuffed with ricotta cheese and basil. The coated flowers are shallow fried in olive oil and served with a crisp salad. A more involved recipe with ideas for other fillings can be found on the River Cottage website.

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One of the reasons I bought a small polytunnel a couple of years ago was to grow aubergines. I absolutely love them but they are difficult to grow outside in the UK. Aubergines originate from tropical regions so they don’t cope well with our changeable maritime climate, not just the rain we get all year round but also the sometimes sharp drop in temperature at night, even in summer. They prefer consistently warm temperatures and lots of sunshine, but then, don’t we all. The sunshine I can’t so much about, but a polytunnel means that they can be grown in an environment where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate so much and they can be protected from the odd week of wet weather.

I first tried them a couple of years ago when the summer was so wet, everything in the solanum family that includes aubergines, tomatoes and potatoes, all got blight, even under cover. I tried again last year when the weather was much better but I’d underestimated how much watering polytunnels need and the plants succumbed to red spider mite. Looks like I’ve got the balance right this year and I’m looking forward to harvesting my first fruits in a few weeks time.

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The courgette glut has started. Maybe I shouldn’t have grown eight plants.

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The rain yesterday gave the allotment a much needed soaking and made the soil beautifully soft for easy weeding.

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