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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In Season: Shallots, Purple Kale and Brussels Sprouts

Hello again 🙂 so just to continue with the “vegetables in season in February” as mentioned in yesterday’s post, I wanted to  share a new combo of vegetables I tried last week after looking up the Eat the Seasons website.

I chose parsnips, turnips, leeks and swede for my soup and also bought shallots, Brussels sprouts and purple kale.

Purple Kale, Brussels Sprouts and Shallots

Purple Kale, Brussels Sprouts and Shallots

 

Many people associate Brussels sprouts with Christmas dinner and forget about them after that, but they are so lovely and cute that they deserve to be eaten more!

Brussels sprouts have anticancer properties and when they are steamed or stir fried -rather than boiled to death as many other poor vegetables for Sunday or Christmas dinners – they do not acquire that bitter taste that may put some people off.

A few weeks ago a kind colleague asked if any of us wanted some Brussels sprouts as she had so much delivered in her organic veg box that she was actually getting a little sick of them. I asked if I could have some, including the stalks, to try to use everything up.

…Unfortunately I didn’t manage to use the stalk, not even for my stone soup, because it’s as strong as steel.

I’m sure they could use Brussels sprouts stalks for scaffolding like they do with bamboo in Hong Kong.

I looked up several forums and blogs to find tips on how to use them and someone had even suggested running the stalks over with the car to make them easier to compost. 😐 So I sort of left it.

I did however make the Brussels sprouts straight away and they were delicious!!

-After washing them and taking the outer leaves off, I simply cut them in half, cooked them in a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil on a medium-high heat to char them a bit, then added a splash of water to the pan, put a lid on it and let them steam on a medium heat until soft but still retaining a firm texture.

A little seasoning and voila’! Deliciously sustainable and vegan.

 

Charred and Steamed Brussels Sprouts with Vegan Sausages and Tomato Relish

Charred and Steamed Brussels Sprouts with Vegan Sausages and Tomato Relish

 

I also bought purple kale as it is in season and I have read many blog posts about how wonderful kale is, with many people having it in super healthy smoothies. I had never tried it before and I never realised how beautiful it looks…

Pretty Purple Kale

Pretty Purple Kale

Kale also has anticancer properties as well as beta carotene, Vitamin K and C, calcium and more loveliness!

I looked up a couple of recipes that used kale and then decided to keep it really quick and simple.

-I chopped 2 shallots and cooked them in a little extra virgin olive oil until soft, added the Brussels sprouts cut in half as mentioned earlier and once they were charred I added the bunch of kale, cut in smaller pieces, and some water to steam it all for a few minutes.

I served it with lightly fried chili tofu for another sustainable vegan meal 🙂

Vegetables in Season and Tofu

Vegetables in Season and Tofu

Using the Eat the Seasons website was fun as it encouraged me to try something new, in season, cheaper and grown locally. I tried purple kale and thought “it’s so healthy that sod’s law: it must taste pretty awful” but it was actually really nice and I will have as much of it as possible while it’s in season.

 

How do you choose the vegetables you buy? Do you think of what is in season?

Have you even managed to use Brussels sprouts stalks for something?

No Waste Seasonable Vegetable Stone Soup

Before I start with my no waste soup recipe, I just wanted to say that 2013’s Fairtrade Fortnight has started (25th February – 10th March), and it is a perfect opportunity to try and be more sustainable and “Go Further” by choosing Fairtrade items 🙂 By purchasing the Fairtrade products you love you will also be supporting the farmers and workers who produce them in developing countries.

There are many ways to incorporate more sustainable Fairtrade products into your life, something for each month of the year, as I wrote in last year’s Fairtrade Goodies post.

For more information on why and how to get involved, have a look at the Fairtrade Website – did you know that rich countries waste as much food as the total annual food production of sub-Saharan Africa??

~

Last week I finally made stone soup (or home made vegetable scraps stock), and that, I’m glad to say, involves making the very most of all the vegetables you buy or grow with very little or nothing left to waste. Sustainability at its best! 😀

I first heard about using vegetables scraps, especially if organic, when my sister told me about something she heard from a programme called “Zero Waste”.

The way to make home made stock cubes at a cost of £0.00 is to keep ALL scraps such as carrots peels, courgette ends, onions’ and garlic’s outer skin, asparagus woody ends etc. and once you have enough, dehydrate them in a low oven at about 100C for about 4-5 hours (or a dehydrator if you have one of course), or lay them out on a tray for a whole hot sunny day, turning them around so they sun-dry evenly.
Once they are dry, whizz them up in small pieces in a food processor or using a pestle and mortar and then add 2x times the quantity of rock or fine sea salt.
You can put the dry mix in a jar and keep it in the fridge for months and it would be a very cute present for a food lover too.

An additional way to reduce waste is to always keep unwaxed lemons and oranges’ peels by peeling them off with a potato peeler (minding to leave the bitter pith off) as they are very rich in flavour, microelements and vitamins and use them in desserts, on vegetables, pasta or even in cocktails.
You can store them in the freezer and use them whenever needed. 🙂

This time I tried to make stone soup inspired by J-F, blogger on 222 million tons. I tried to make it even more sustainable by adding as many seasonable vegetables as possible in it: I checked the Eat the Seasons website and chose some leeks, parsnips, potatoes, swede and turnips for my soup.

February vegetables: swede, leeks, main crop potatoes, turnips, parsnips

February vegetables: swede, leeks, main crop potatoes, turnips, parsnips

I also bought some purple kale (which was half price as in season), shallots and Brussels sprouts to stock up on additional vegetables in season.

To make my stone soup I started “collecting” parts of vegetables I would normally discard -and unfortunately throw in the bin as we don’t have a garden for compost or a food waste collection service 😦 – and freezing them.

Every time I peeled or chopped some vegetables after washing them, I put the peels, skins, tips etc. in a box in the freezer (you could use a freezer bag too of course).

Precious Scraps for a Precious Broth

Precious Scraps for a Precious Broth

These quickly added up and I decided to make my stone soup by simply putting all the scraps in a big pot, covering them with water, adding some peppercorns and bringing them to a boil and then letting them simmer for about 45 minutes.

I then strained the stock and pressed the vegetables to get all the flavour and stock out,  you can use the vegetable scraps for your compost heap after that. About a litre of stock came out of the scraps and it tasted delicate, but still tasty and sweet as I had sweet potato peels in it too.

I used about half of it and I froze the rest, I added some water, herbs, my vegetables and pre-soaked pulses and made some of my usual vegan warming country soup (with added chilli sauce as I am a little obsessed): no-waste stock, vegetables in season and vegan, so pretty sustainable and very nice!

Home Made Stock Vegan Vegetable Soup

Home Made Stock Vegan Vegetable Soup

An interesting article from another blog, The Garden of Eating, lists some of the vegetables you may want to avoid using for the stock as they have very overpowering flavours such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts and artichokes.

Have you tried making your own stock?

Do you have any tips to make the most of something and waste less?

 

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?

Spicy Tasty Jamaican Jerk Tofu

A couple of week ago I made jerk tofu and it was SO full of flavour! I served it with my butternut squash chunky chips.

Some may think of tofu as bland, but it absorbs flavours really well and this dish is everything but bland!

There are so many variations of jerk marinade, mine was inspired by Ainsley Harriot‘s recipe but I plan to try other recipes and update this post accordingly.

I bought my tofu, but if you would like to be extra sustainable, make your own!

I found out about making your own tofu from J-F, who blogs on 222 Million Tons. He lived in Japan and is an expert when it comes to tofu: making it, storing it and using it in delicious recipes.

The recipe included 120ml dark soy sauce. There is a myriad of kinds of soy sauce, with different fermenting duration and ingredient ratios which give very different results, and the one I have is a very sticky, dark and dense Thai one with molasses. Its flavour is very strong and overpowering, therefore I only used 30ml of it and used  light soy sauce for the remaining 90ml.

 

Jamaican Jerk Tofu

Ingredients to marinade about 500g /1lb tofu

  • 500g (organic) firm tofu, drained and sliced
  • 225g onions, quartered
  • 2 Habañero or Scotch bonnet chillies, halved and seeded
  • 5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • thyme sprigs or 1tsp dried thyme
  • 120ml vinegar
  • 90ml light soy sauce, 30ml dark soy sauce

 

Jamaican Jerk Tofu Ingredients

 

I used Scotch bonnet chillies, they are so beautiful and so, SO spicy. Be careful when you cut and handle them, make sure you do NOT touch anything sensitive with your fingers for a few hours after you have cut them, especially your eyes! Or maybe use surgical gloves.

Beautiful and fierce Scotch bonnet chillies

 

-Put all the ingredients, except for the tofu, in a food processor and whizz until smooth;

 

Ready to become a spicy paste

 

Once everything was whizzed up and I took the lid off the blender the fumes from the Scotch bonnet chillies were so strong I thought my face was going to fall off! 🙂

-Put the tofu in a dish and pour the spicy mix over it, cover it with cling film and leave it in the fridge for a few hours.

Not so tasty tofu

 

Extremely tasty tofu 🙂

-Cook in a pan or bake it and enjoy!

Jerk Tofu with butternut squash chips

 

Have you tried jerk tofu before? What ingredients did the spice mix include?

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?

Quorn Tart and Trip to The People’s Supermarket

Quorn tart: one of the 1,001 Quorn-using recipes I have made up lately!

I had a packet of shortcrust pastry and Quorn mince to use so I thought I’d combine the two and made Quorn mince Tart!

It’s really simple and quick and lovely warm or cold, I took some to work with me today and it would be great for a pic-nic too 🙂

This is a vegetarian dish as the Quorn contains free range egg white, but Quorn Tweeted back to me that they’re working on an even more sustainable, vegan version of Quorn!

Quorn Mince Tart

Ingredients for 4-6 people:

  • 1 packet of shortcrust pastry, rolled out in a dish (I used Jus Rol, it’s vegan and always tastes and comes out lovely!)
  • 1 packet of Quorn Mince
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 aubergine, chopped (or any suitable vegetable you may have)
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • Herbs and spices – I used mixed herbs and chilli flakes, you could use parsley, basil + seasoning
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • More tomatoes and herbs and balsamic vinegar to serve

-Preheat your oven to 200C, put the pastry in it once it has reached its temperature to cook a little before adding the topping;

-Cook the onion in a little olive oil in a pan and add the Quorn mince and the aubergine;

-Cook for a few minutes and add the herbs, spices, salt and pepper ( I also added a dash of water to avoid it getting dry)

-Take the pastry out and add the mince and vegetable mix on it and add the sliced tomatoes over it, put it in the middle of the oven and cook for about 10-12 minutes, the pastry should be golden by then.

-Serve with a simple tomato salad with balsamic vinegar and herbs, add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil if you want.

Enjoy!

~~~

If you have read my Food Waste and my London Green Fair posts you will know a little about The People’s Supermarket. And… how much I love it.

I went back there today and talked to Jess, who I met at the London Green Fair on 9th June.

We talked about how they source their produce locally and get most of their vegetables from Covent Garden market, or the London area, sell food that didn’t fly thousands of miles to get over here (except ever-popular bananas!) and sell seasonal food whenever possible.

Jess also gave me a 1st draft of their Summary Annual Report, full of interesting facts and figures about TPS that I will share with you soon.

I am excited to say I will go back in a couple of weeks’ time, after the store has received a face lift, and do a shift there to really see how it all works, especially how The Kitchen turns food that is past its best (but still absolutely eatable) becomes someone’s delicious lunch on the go.

So if you fancy finding out more about The People’s Supermarket or just fancy a cool night out, they are hosting a Beer Night this Friday 29th June from 9pm to 11pm at their store in Lamb’s Conduit Street WC1N.

The People’s Supermarket Beer Night

What do you think about making a Quorn Tart?

Have you visited The People’s Supermarket?