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It’s the first week of March and the weather is already sunnier and warmer. Yay! It’s  a rare alignment of dates and weather. Shouldn’t get too excited – it’ll probably be snowing by the end of the week. We have broad beans in this week, a preview of summer to come. You can of course steam then toss them with garlic and chili and stir through pasta for a super quick meal. Go one calorie- tastic step further and sauté them with pancetta and stir in cream, pasta and plenty of pasta for absolute heaven on a plate.

As it’s nearly summer 😉 I made a salad with this week’s white cabbage. It’s a sort of coleslaw I suppose. I shredded the cabbage finely and mixed it with a few finely diced carrots – half and half roughly. Steam the beans and toast the same volume of pumpkin seeds. The dressing is yogurt based and instead of honey for sweetness I used maple syrup which makes a nice change. This quantity makes enough for 2 or 3 people to have as a side with say, fish or as part of a larger picky type meal.

A salad of Broad beans, white cabbage and toasted pumpkin seeds with a yogurt and maple dressing

You’ll need:

Half head white cabbage shredded finely and chopped

2-3 large carrots diced finely

500gr broad beans podded

100gr pumpkin seeds

For the dressing

2 tablespoon yogurt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Pinch salt

Black pepper

First of all make the dressing – whisk all the ingredients together. Check and correct the seasoning if necessary then set aside.

Pod the beans then steam until tender. Allow to cool then pop each bean out of its pod.

Toast the pumpkin seeds by placing with on a frying pan and toasting over a medium heat til they change colour.

To put the salad together. Toss the cabbage and carrot into a serving bowl. Top with the beans and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with a little of the dressing and serve the rest on the side.

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Roasted Ramiro Peppers

Ramiro peppers are fast becoming a favourite with me. Fantastically sweet to begin with, they really take on that great smokey flavour when roasted and this is what makes them such a great addition to any salad. If you’ve got the barbecue going that’s the obvious place to do them. Let the skin completely blacken then put them in a bag or a covered bowl for a couple of minutes. This generates some steam to lift off the skin making them easier to peel. Once you’ve got them peeled cut them into skinny strips or dice them up. You can of course roast them on an open flame on the hob or in the oven. I’ve been eating them with rice or cous cous making all kinds of salads with things like chargrilled courgettes, cherry vine tomatoes, feta, toasted pine nuts, capers, olives………….. whatever’s to hand really.

Ramiro Pepper Salad

Last night I made a very simple salad with this week’s gorgeous Wicklow baby spinach. I roasted the peppers on the hob and while they were doing I threw the spinach in a bowl along with a handful of those lovely wrinkled black olives and some thinly sliced red onion. I kept the dressing simple – our lovely organic olive oil and balsamic. Nothing fancy just very simple fresh ingredients that go well together – it’s what summer eating is all about….

Baby Spinach Salad with roasted Ramiro Pepper

You’ll need:

A couple of handfuls of baby spinach or any salad leaves you fancy

Black Olives – I used the wrinkly kind but it’s really up to you

1 roasted Ramiro Pepper

½ half red onion finely sliced.

Cut the pepper into strips and toss with the rest of the ingredients. Dress with olive oil, balsamic and the tiniest pinch of salt.

Ruth who packs all our veggies told me about a very simple carrot salad they make in Spain and I gave it a go. You grate carrots, pound some garlic with olive oil and um………. that’s it. Oh, I added a little red wine vinegar but that really was it. I resisted the temptation to use more than one clove of garlic and I was right. The result was lovely. The carrots were super sweet and the garlic gave the tiniest bit of bite which after a few hours just melted into the dressing. When we got home from the Stevie Wonder gig (amazing!!!!) later on we had it with hummus and crackers and I think it was even nicer.

Ruth’s Garlic Scented Carrot Salad

You’ll need:

Carrots – I used about 3 biggish ones which I suppose weighed about 500-600gr but it’s a salad so there’s no need to weigh

1 fat clove of garlic

A pinch of course salt

Olive Oil

Red Wine Vinegar

Grate the carrots. Smash the garlic and pound it with a pinch of salt and a little olive oil. A small morter and pestle is perfect if you have one or the back of a teaspoon will do fine. Add a generous glug of oil and a dash of vinegar. Dress the salad, taste then adjust the seasoning as you see fit. This salad keeps well but you might want to add a little more vinegar before you serve it.

We are off to the Sea Sessions festival in Bundorran tonight where Paul is playing on Sunday. If you’re there I’ll be the frazzled mom of two wondering what on earth I was thinking bringing Dan and Auggie with us. At least it’s on the beach… Chuck has a gig going on tomorrow night and has posted details on our facebook page. He’s a brilliant dj – you won’t be able to resist moving!

Have a great weekend,

Sarah

I was going to make soup with the carrots and leeks I got yesterday. Roast them up first to really get the flavours nice and sweet  then maybe some chilli and coconut milk  but then Margaret suggested using the roasted veggies for a risotto and I about-turned (am I that suggestible?) and made that instead. I didn’t regret it. After all the roasting then cooking with the rice and stock ,the leek just melted away adding lots of flavour to the dish while the carrots were beautifully caramelized and almost treacley. To offset the sweetness and give the dish some tang I added goat’s cheese. Remember that roast chicken I made during the snow? Well, I still had a batch of stock from it in the freezer and this really pulled the whole thing together. I didn’t quite have enough so I topped it up with Marigold. I didn’t add the usual glass of white to things but it certainly wouldn’t be out of place – just be sure you do it early on and turn up the heat for a minute to burn off the alcohol. As always I say – don’t be afraid of risotto. It’s not the work everyone goes on about. Yes, you do have to stir the stock as you add it in but  not every single minute. There’ll be plenty of opportunities to pour yourself a glass of wine……….

Caramelized Leek and Carrot Risotto with Goat’s Cheese (for 2)

You’ll need:

600gr Leeks

500gr Carrots

Olive Oil

Butter

200gr Risotto rice – I usually use Arborio

750ml stock – chicken or veg

75gr Hard Goat’s Cheese grated

A little Parmesan freshly grated

First of all prepare the veg for roasting. Trim down the leeks so you are left with the white bottoms and a little of the pale green. Cut these into lengths about 2 inches long then halve them. Peel the carrots, again cut them into 2 inch lengths then quarter each one. Place in an oiled roasting tin, sprinkle with a little fine salt, drizzle with a little olive oil, cover with tinfoil then roast at Gas Mark 5.  Give them a turn after about half an hour then after another half hour uncover and roast for a further 20 minutes . Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down a bit then chop up the leeks removing any hard or papery outside layers. Dice  the carrots and set aside separately (these go in later).

Heat a generous knob of butter on the pan, add the leeks and saute for about 2 minutes. While the leeks are starting ,heat up the stock in a pot so it’s ready to go. Add the rice to the leeks and cook for a couple of minutes stirring well so each grain gets coated in the butter and olive oil from the leeks. Now you are ready to start adding the stock. Make sure the pan is on a medium heat. Too hot and all the stock will vanish without actually doing its job which is to cook the rice. Too slow and it will sit there for ages and take forever to absorb. You want to keep things moving but not so fast you can’t turn away from the pan for a moment. Ok, so start with a cup, stir it in and as it disappears add another and so on. After a few cups of stock you can throw in the carrots. Continue on until the rice is cooked i.e. al dente but not hard. There should still be some liquid so turn off the heat even if  things are  a bit runny. The heat from the rice means that liquid will continue to evaporate and you should be left with a dish that is creamy but not runny. Plus bear in mind that the cheese will take some of the liquid. Stir that in, reserving the Parmesan for the table, along with lots of freshly ground black pepper and a little more salt if you think it needs it. Italians would add a ton of butter at this stage but I don’t think you have to. Before serving allow the risotto to sit for about 2 minutes then  eat from warm plates if possible.

We’ve got some of those amazing Ramiro Peppers this week. These guys are made for roasting and really take on a lovely smoky flavour.I’ll be eating mine in burrito or maybe as a salad with just a splash of red wine vinegar.

In case you were wondering……….

The leaves I have this week are called Purslane which is basically……… a weed but an extremely nutritious one. It’s got more Omega 3 than any other greens. Try it in a salad with some roasted ramiro pepper, a handful of toasted pinenuts and maybe some Parmesan shavings. Well, that’s tomorrow’s lunch sorted then..

It’s winter!!!!!!!! My fuschia was getting ready to flower again and suddenly it’s all about how many jumpers you can  wear at the same time (it ain’t half chilly up here at chez organic, good for the veggies bad bad bad for anyone sitting in front of a computer screen all day). To combat the cold I’ve been making hearty fare this week and a veggie stew/soup I made on Tuesday went down especially well. It’s kind of a version of minestrone  but faster and it’s vegan! As usual I used plenty of onions and garlic (great for combating colds and flus), then carrots, tinned tomatoes and some pinto beans I had left over in the fridge (you can use whatever you have – chickpeas, butterbeans whatever). I cooked all these up (and warmed up the kitchen and myself aswell) and just before serving I tossed some shredded spinach in a pan with garlic and olive oil then stirred it in at the end for an extra garlic hit. It’s quick, very tasty and keeps very well so you can make double quantities and freeze or have for lunch the next day. I served mine with brown rice but couscous, quinoa or pasta would all work well…..

A hearty veggie stew

You’ll need the following but it really is a moveable feast so feel free to use whatever you have:

4 medium carrots

2 onions

olive oil

6-8 cloves garlic

2 tins chopped tomatoes

1 scant teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 red chilli (take out the seeds if you don’t want too much heat)

1 tin beans

1/2 litre vegetable stock – as always I use Marigold

200gr greens (spinach, cabbage, kale etc) destemmed and shredded

Begin by chopping the onions and get them gently frying in olive oil while you scrub and chop the carrots. I did them in quarters about 1cm thick but to be honest it doesn’t make too much difference so it’s up to you. When the onions have softened and are beginning to change colour you can chop 4 cloves of garlic and throw them in along with chilli (finely chopped). Let them soften (about 2-3 minutes) then add the tinned tomatoes, oregano, salt and a pinch of sugar (gets rid of any bitterness the tomatoes have). Allow the tomatoes to cook down by at least a third then throw in the carrots and stock. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes. Rinse the beans well then throw them in, stir well and add more seasoning  if necessary. Finally, heat some olive oil on a frying pan, add the rest of the garlic then the greens and toss until they’ve wilted (if you’re using spinach this will take no time at all while things like cabbage and kale will take longer). Add the greens to the soup mix everything together and serve.

You’ve probably noticed that your cauliflower is an unusual colour (orange, purple or green). I know they look like some food colouring was added to their water but they are completely natural. I just thought it might be nice to try something different. Like all Cauliflowers these guys are especially high in vitamin C as well as lots of other good stuff. Cauliflower was supposed to be the star of a vegan curry with coconut milk and tofu but um, it just didn’t really work out. I mean it was ok but just not worth sharing – must try harder!! In the meantime, I suggest the following non-vegan idea of tossing it on the pan with lots of garlic, chilli , lemon juice and then topping with a little Parmesan. Vegans can leave out the Parmesan and it’s still yummy……….

Pan-fried Cauliflower florets with Chilli, Garlic and Parmesan

You’ll need:

1 Cauliflower

2 cloves garlic (minced)

a little minced red chilli

1 Lemon

Some freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and Pepper

Olive Oil

To prepare the cauliflower, remove the leaves and the stems then cut the cauliflower into tiny florets about the size of marbles (Dan’s going through a phase so they are everywhere I look in our house these days). Rinse in plenty of cold water, drain and set aside. Heat a generous dash of olive oil on the pan, add the chilli, cauliflower and a sprinkling of fine salt  then toss over a medium heat until the florets are golden brown which should take about 6-7 minutes adding the garlic in the last minute. Turn off the heat and squeeze the lemon over the cauliflower, mix well then add salt and pepper and finally the Parmesan. Give everything a good toss and serve.

Hope you enjoy these recipe,

Have a great weekend,

Sarah

Hi everyone,

Spring has sprung! ……. or at least it’s trying, last night’s freezing temperatures did make me wonder. I made soup with this week’s Cabbage and it was perfect. This recipe has beans which makes it almost like a stew so it’s almost a meal in itself…..

green cabbage

green cabbage

Tuscan style Vegetable and Bean Soup

You’ll need:

1 head Cabbage

4 Carrots

4 Spuds 2 Cloves Garlic

2 Medium Onions

1 Dried Chilli

1 Tin of chopped Tomatoes

1 Tin White Beans (Fagioli)

Start by chopping the Onions and begin sautéing over a low-medium heat with a generous glug of Olive Oil until they start to change colour stirring occasionally to stop things burning. This should take about 15 minutes enough time for you to prepare the other veg. Wash and roughly shred the Cabbage. Scrub the carrots and cut into 1 cm half rounds. Peel the spuds and chop into bitesize pieces. Finally, chop the garlic and chilli and if the onions are done add to the pot, stir for a minute before adding the rest of the veg including the tomatoes (but not the Beans) along with a teaspoon of Maldon Salt. Stir well then cover the pot and leave for about 15 minutes over a lowish heat then add 2 litres of weak vegetable stock (as usual I’d use Marigold and halve the quantity indicated on the packet so it’s not too strong). Bring to the boil then lower the heat, cover and cook for another hour. After an hour add the beans, stir well and continue to cook uncovered for a further 10-15 minutes. To serve (and this is what really makes it) take a piece of stale Bread (ideally Ciabatta or sourdough), toast it then rub the toast with a halved clove of garlic. Place the garlic toast at the bottom of your serving bowl and add the soup. Top with a drizzle of your finest Olive Oil and some freshly grated Parmesan (if you like – this is optional and some would say not necessary).

Keep the faith that summer really will come this year by having a Blood Orange salad for pud. Peel a couple of oranges removing the pith as you go then finely slice them and scatter with some mint leaves. Do this ahead of time and all the flavours will mingle. A serving of vanilla or chocolate (Butlers do the best I’ve had) ice-cream would be lovely too…..

Hope you enjoy the recipes,

Have a great weekend,

Sarah