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High summer means basil and while sometimes our homegrown stuff doesn’t get enough sun to compete with its Italian cousins this year that’s not a problem – Yay!!! It’s hard to resist making pesto the first time I get basil each year(I hate the stuff in jars) so that’s what I did last night. To get over the pine-nuts costing more than gold problem, I used toasted sunflower seeds instead and they were just grand (and way more local as pine nuts usually seem to come from China which seems like a long way to me). Obviously pasta pesto makes a grand dinner in itself and it was hilarious watching not so baby (18 months already!!!!)Lee shoveling spaghetti into his mouth like a walrus last night but basil is a natural bedfellow for this season’s peaches so I couldn’t resist a salad as well.

I decided to use beet greens as a base and if you’re not familiar with these guys you’re in for a treat. You know the way beetroot is soooooooo good for you? Well, the leaves are actually better for you than the actual beets. Yes! But you have to get them fresh so use them today rather than than let them wilt as they will quite quickly. The colour is amazing – gorgeous ruby stems with dark green leaves so they make everything look fab. Throw them into any salad or juice as soon as you can – your body will thank you.

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Back to our salad – I chopped up the leaves and stems pretty finely, tossed a handful of  toasted sunflower seeds through them along with some goat’s cheese and chopped peach. The dressing was simple, olive oil and white wine vinegar (3:1) then a drizzle of honey over everything just before I served.  Delicious.

Toasted sunflower seed pesto (this will make enough for the salad which serves 2 plus a decent size bowl of pasta for one)

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You’ll need:

60gr basil

3 tablespoons sunflower seeds

2 cloves garlic roughly chopped

5 tablespoons olive oil

a generous pinch coarse salt

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Begin by toasting the sunflower seeds till golden then set aside to cool down completely. Take the basil leaves off the stalks and put into a mortar along with the garlic, olive oil, salt and sunflower seeds. With a pestle pound  to  your desired consistency then stir in the cheese. Needless to say, normally I’d be using a hand blender for this sort of thing if I could but with this kind of quantity you don’t quite have enough to go electric so scale up if you can. Store in a jar under a layer of oil for up to 2 weeks (but it won’t last that long!)

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A salad of Beet greens, peach, goat’s cheese and pesto and toasted sunflower seeds

You’ll need:

1 Bunch beet greens

1 ripe peach

120gr goat’s cheese

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds lightly toasted

Olive Oil

White wine vinegar

Honey

A generous dollop of pesto (as above)

Finely chop the beet greens and stems then wash and dry everything. Peel and chop your peach. Combine the seeds, greens, stems, and peach. Crumble in the cheese. Lightly dress with oil and vinegar. Top with the chopped peach and a generous dollop of pesto. Finally drizzle with a little honey and serve. Summer is served. 🙂

Have a brilliant weekend,

Sarah

I think deliveries from Home Organics have converted more than a few of you to the joys of beetroot. Slow roasting has banished all those awful memories of pickled slices that used to feature in that abomination known as the Irish salad circa 1982.

But what about the leaves? Or beet greens as the Americans call them. You don’t see them that often because they don’t last that long. But if you do get your beets with the greens attached be sure and make the most of them. Not only are they delicious in all kinds of salads and completely gorgeous to behold, they are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. For a super cleansing juice guaranteed to leave your insides gleaming try a few handfuls of the leaves (stems and all) with an apple, a piece of ginger and 2 of this week’s satsumas. You’ll feel like new.

This week’s recipe is so simple. I made it during the summer when we had a glut and I needed to make lunch fast. Beet greens can be bitter so I used a honey dressing with some balsamic for body and flavour. Lots of toasted seeds for crunch then a slab of baked feta as the main event. Ready in under fifteen minutes……

A salad of honey balsamic beet greens with toasted seeds and baked feta

You’ll need:

1 bunch beet greens

1 handful each of sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds

1 block feta (200gr)

Dried oregano

For the dressing:

4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon runny honey

Maldon sea salt

Heat the oven to Gas mark 5/190 degrees. Sprinkle the feta with a little oregano and a few grindings of coarse black pepper then drizzle lightly with olive oil. Wrap in tinfoil and place in the oven and bake for 10 -12 minutes until soft.

As the feta bakes, wash and dry the beets then chop the stalks into  1- 2 cm pieces then the leaves to whatever size pieces you’d like.

Roast your seeds by placing them on a dry pan over the heat until they start to change colour and you can smell them lightly toasting. As soon as this happens take them them off as the next step is burnt (this is the voice of experience talking).

Toss the seeds with the leaves then add the dressing. Top with the cheese and serve immediately.

Have a brilliant weekend,

Sarah