Seasonal Treats: Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Happy month of May! 🙂

When the sun stops hiding behind cloths of clouds it’s lovely to feel its warmth, and even though this morning was still chilly I have cut my daily portion of socks to one pair rather than two!

With warmer temperatures new crops can thrive, so I have been continuing my seasonal vegetables adventures and tried purple sprouting broccoli…even though I heard that some vegetables have been a little late due to our extra long Winter.

A few weeks ago we went shopping on a week day night and there was a mountain of “reduced to clear” vegetables. I bought half of that mountain of goodness.

 

Reduced to clear vegetables

Reduced to clear vegetables

 

I got 3 500g packs of organic carrots from the U.K., they were 19p each instead of £1. I also got a pack of seasonal purple sprouting broccoli which were 25p instead of £1.49 and a pack of broccoli and cauliflower for 25p instead of £1.29, so not only I spent a fraction of their price but these vegetables avoided being thrown away.

Of course they were reduced because of the use by date, but most vegetables (especially carrots) last a lot longer than the dates that supermarkets place on them, so nothing was wasted at all. As usual if in doubt Still Tasty is a great website for extra guidance on the best way and how long to keep food safely.

Pretty orange and yellow British organic carrots

Pretty orange and yellow British organic carrots

 

With so many vegetables I decided to make a big tray of roasted vegetables, with added shallots – which were still in season then – organic rosemary and garlic and a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil.

Roasted vegetables - organic, seasonal, saved from being wasted

Roasted vegetables – organic, seasonal, saved from being wasted

I wanted to make the purple sprouting broccoli separately so I cooked them on the griddle pan with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

Purple sprouting broccoli are really pretty and tasty, I had never tried them before but I’m glad I discovered them thanks to my seasonal veg mania. They are different in shape to ordinary broccoli and really look like little trees, you eat the stalk and they are great steamed, boiled and they had a nice bite when I made them on the griddle pan.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli Natural Beauty

Purple Sprouting Broccoli Natural Beauty

 

Lovely vegetables

Lovely vegetables

 

I had them with some vegetarian nut roast (which was also reduced to clear) for a sustainable super filling and tasty meal:

 

Sustainable vegetables and nut roast

Sustainable vegetables and nut roast

 

I bought PSB (yes, purple sprouting broccoli 😛 ) again at the weekend and made a very Italian-style recipe inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe on the Guardian website.

Italian-style because it’s a really simple pasta meal where the vegetable used, in this case PSB, is the complete star of the dish and the ingredients are few but great. Another famous veg-pasta combination is orecchiette with broccoli.

I used whole wheat pasta to make it healthier and less processed and this dish is quick (15 minutes), healthy and vegan.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli Pasta – 4 portions

  • 350g Whole wheat pasta
  • 200g or 300g of purple sprouting broccoli
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • A pinch of chilli flakes
  • 2 Cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper

-Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add salt and the pasta. Cook until very al dente. Trim the ends of the purple sprouting broccoli and cut them in easy-to-eat pieces and add them to the pot about 5 minutes before the pasta is cooked.

-In the meantime heat the oil in a pan and add the chilli and garlic, once the pasta is cooked drain it and add it to the pan, tossing it in the lovely garlic and chilli oil, add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Wholewheat pasta with purple sprouting broccoli - Seasonal and vegan

Whole wheat pasta with purple sprouting broccoli – Seasonal and vegan

Enjoy!

 

Have you ever tried purple sprouting broccoli?

Do you sometimes buy reduced to clear food?

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1st Anniversary and Vegan Grilled Aubergines Lasagne

It’s been exactly 1 year since I started Green Trails&Teapot Tales with my first vegan pledge to find out how it would be to eat more sustainably, so I thought I’d share a really delicious recipe for vegan lasagne – which, being half Italian, I’m aware is a bit of a blasphemy – definitely worth of any sort of celebration. Blog anniversaries, your cat’s birthday…any excuse to eat this! 🙂  I made them a few weeks ago and must make them again soon!

During the past year I have tried a multitude of sustainable dishes that are amazingly tasty and this is yet another one.

I found this recipe on the Peta site – and made it with slight variations – and it uses grilled aubergines which have a really lovely taste and meaty texture, fresh tomatoes and tofu “ricotta” as a very nice cheesy substitute. Try it if you don’t believe me 🙂

The fresh tomatoes give it such a lovely fresh flavour…I love these lasagne. This whole dish is tasty, light and yet filling and satisfying.

 

Vegan Grilled Aubergines Lasagne – serves 6 – 8

Ingredients:

Tofu ricotta:

– About 500g of firm tofu, drained

– 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 1 tbsp lemon juice

– 1 Tsp of basil and 1tsp of parsley

– 3/4 Tsp salt

– 1 Clove of garlic, chopped finely

Sauce:

– About 900g of fresh tomatoes

– 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

– Salt and pepper

– 2 tsp of sugar

To assemble:

– 9 Vegan lasagne sheets (simply egg-free really)

– 2 Medium aubergines

– 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

– Salt and pepper

Tofu Ricotta Ingredients

Tofu Ricotta Ingredients

To prepare the tofu ricotta:

Mash the tofu in a bowl using a fork and add the rest of the tofu ricotta ingredients and mix together.

Tofu Ricotts

Tofu Ricotta

To prepare the sauce:

Put the tomato sauce ingredients in a mixer and blend until smooth, seasoning to taste.

 

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F.

If your lasagne sheets need to be pre-cooked, do so now according to packet instructions.

Cut the aubergines vertically into 1/2 inch slices;

Cook them over a hot grill for about 3-4 minutes until they’re lovely and charred;

Grilled Aubergines

Grilled Aubergines

 

In an oven dish, layer some of the sauce, how many lasagne sheets fit in the dish, aubergine slices, more sauce and then ricotta, repeat until all the ingredients are layered.

 

Layer the delicious ingredients

Layer the delicious ingredients

 

Bake for around 25 minutes.

 

Grilled Aubergines and Tofu Ricotta Vegan Lasagne

Grilled Aubergines and Tofu Ricotta Vegan Lasagne

Enjoy! 🙂

 

Have you tried meat-free lasagne before?

Summer Vegetable Ratatouille with Halloumi

Ratatouille is French stewed vegetable dish from Provence.

My mum’s ratatouille is the best as she’s been cooking it since my parents were living in Paris in the 70s but I’ve tried this recipe and it’s extremely tasty too, plus it has marinated halloumi to go with it!

This recipe is also really easy and without the fuss of salting the aubergines and draining them…I’ve tried it once but never did it since as I don’t find it necessary.

It’s a perfect sustainable summer dish as its ingredients – tomatoes, onions, aubergines, courgettes and peppers – are all in season. It’s healthy too, I’m sure a portion of it contains several of your 5 a day. 🙂

Seasonal Summer Vegetables for the Ratatouille

After my previously posted research into whether organic food is better I decided to splash out and buy organic peppers. They were relatively expensive at £1.80 for 2, but at least the dish didn’t contain all the residual pesticides that are left in ordinary peppers, so it was better for our health and the environment.

Ratatouille is a great side dish, but I had this cooking programme inspired version with marinated halloumi as a main. Any leftovers are great to freeze and you can also use them up as a healthy pasta sauce.

*When you chop up the vegetables, keep all the courgette tips and pepper stalks you usually compost or dispose of, especially if organic, and freeze them: these are great for home-made vegetable stock, I will write a post about this soon!*

Ratatouille with Halloumi

Ingredients for 4 portions:

  • 250g vegetarian Halloumi
  • 1 spring of rosemary / 1 tsp dry rosemary
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 aubergine
  • 2 courgettes
  • 2 peppers, 1 yellow 1 red, preferably organic
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • A small bunch of basil / 1 tbsp dried basil
  • Seasoning
  • Half a lemon or lime
  • 1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • Cous cous / pitta bread / bulgur wheat / polenta / brown rice to serve

-Start off by slicing the halloumi and placing it in a dish, cover it with 2 chopped cloves of garlic, twist and bruise the rosemary to release its resiny oils and add it to the dish, add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and add freshly ground pepper and leave to marinade until it’s time to cook it -salt isn’t really necessary as the halloumi is pretty salty;

Tasty marinated halloumi

-Chop the red onion, courgettes and aubergine in chunks, heat a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in a big pan or pot that will fit all the ingredients;

-Add the remaining chopped garlic clove and onion to the pan, leave to cook on a medium heat for a couple of minutes to soften;

-Add the peppers and turn the heat up to slightly to char them for 3-4 minutes;

-Lower the heat to medium, add the courgette and aubergine chunks, add the tomato puree, stir, and cook for a minute;

-Add the can of chopped tomatoes, season to taste and let the vegetables simmer for 5-10 minutes, until they have softened, add the basil now if you are using dried basil;

-While the vegetables are simmering put the halloumi slices in a pan will all the marinade ingredients and cook until deliciously gooey and crispy on both sides, turn off and leave in the pan once it’s ready;

-Taste the vegetables, once they are ready tear and add the fresh basil leaves, a tbsp of balsamic vinegar and a squeeze of lemon or lime, serve with the halloumi.

This is a very versatile and healthy dish that is great with cous cous as it absorbs the lovely sauce, but it’s equally great with rice, polenta or whatever you fancy. Enjoy!

Ratatouille with Halloumi

Have you had ratatouille before? What did you have it with?