Lentil Pie with Colcannon Mash

Is there anything more comforting and satisfying than a mashed potato topped pie? This is hearty and healthy family food. Perfect for a cosy evening weekday meal and also special enough, I think, for a Sunday lunch. Colcannon is a great way to get some extra greens in, and it’s crazy delicious! I also cook enough for two and freeze one for a rainy day…no shortage of those here in Ireland am I right?

Here’s the flexible and simple recipe. I hope you enjoy it and it becomes a part of your regular rotation. It’s certainly a winner in my house. Liz x

Ingredients (makes enough for 2 pies which serve 4 hungry people each)

  • 2 white onions – diced
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 sticks of celery – diced
  • 6 carrots – diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic – sliced
  • 2 tbsp crumbled, dried mushrooms
  • 2 mugs of green or brown lentils – rinsed
  • 2 stock cubes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 glass of red/white wine (or a tbsp or two of vinegar)
  • 1 tsp each dried thyme, rosemary and sage
  • 10 or so floury potatoes
  • 6 scallions/spring onions – chopped
  • a large bunch of kale or half a spring green cabbage – chopped
  • a generous knob of butter/margarine
  • a splash of oat milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • seasonal greens to steam and serve on the side
One for now, one for the freezer for a rainy day.

Method

You’ll need two large pots and two baking dishes. Preheat your oven to 200C. Get a large pot of water on to boil.

Peel your potatoes (or don’t if you prefer a rustic mash), chop them into even sized pieces and put them in the large pot of water to boil until soft.

Meanwhile make the lentil filling. Sauté the onion in the oil until starting to soften and turn golden. Then add the celery, carrots and garlic and sauté until fragrant. You can of course switch the base veg for whatever you have eg beetroot, parsnips, swede, mushrooms…

Add the rinsed lentils and the wine/vinegar. Give the pot a quick stir then add 6 mugs of water, crumble in the two stock cubes and the dried mushrooms. Add the dried herbs, bay leaves and some black pepper then simmer, stirring often, until the lentils are cooked and have soaked up most of the water. Add more water if needed, just keep an eye on it.

Put the chopped scallions in a wide bowl and just cover them with oat milk so that they can infuse their flavour through the milk.

Once the potatoes are nearly cooked through, add the kale/cabbage to the pot to quickly steam in the last 3 minutes or so of the cooking time. Then fish them out and put them in the bowl with the oat milk and spring onions.

Drain and mash the potatoes with the butter and plenty of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Then stir the kale/cabbage, scallions and milk through the mash.

Taste the lentil filling and add more salt/pepper as needed. Them assemble the pies. Make one to eat now and one to cool down and freeze for another day?

Divide the lentil filling between two oven dishes, then divide the mash. Smooth it out and then rough it up a little with a fork so that you get nice crispy bits in the oven.

Put one of the pies in the oven to bake and crisp up. It’s still warm so it should only take 20 minutes or so. If you are cooking one from cold it will take a lot longer. You will need to cook a cold one covered with foil or a baking tray until hot in the middle, then remove the foil/baking tray for the last 15 minutes or so to allow the pie to take on some colour.

Serve with seasonal greens and enjoy!

Salad Bag Pesto

One of the most common ingredients that get wasted are salad leaves. The mixed bags of salad leaves really don’t stay fresh long, really they should be eaten within 3 days. So if you don’t get around to eating a salad, perhaps the weather changed and you were more in the mood for a hot meal, there are a few ways you can use them up in a different way. Whatever you do, don’t throw that bag of slightly sad looking leaves away! Salad leaves can be blended into a soup in place of spinach or watercress or make this very flexible salad bag pesto! If you have any fresh herbs around the place, chuck some of those in too.

Read more about food waste in my blog post on the subject here. Liz x

Ingredients

  • mixed salad leaves (and odds an ends of fresh herbs if available)
  • sunflower and pumpkin seeds (or any nuts or seeds you like)
  • lemons
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • nutritional yeast (or odds and ends of cheese)

Method

I’ve deliberated not given amounts as pesto is a very fluid recipe. You can taste and adjust it as you go. You should aim to have around half the volume of the mixture as nuts or seeds. So if you have about a mug full of salad leaves that need using, toast about half a mug of nuts or seeds.

Toast the nuts or seeds in a dry frying pan to bring out their flavour. Allow them to cool.

The put them in a food processor. I used a blender because my food processor is broken – it works ok but I prefer a food processor for pesto because I don’t want the mixture to be too smooth in the end.

Add a crushed or grated glove of garlic, a shake of nutritional yeast, a big pinch of salt and all the salad leaves.

Then add lemon juice (you can add the zest of the lemon too if you like, or save it in the freezer for something else). Start with a small amount of lemon juice, you can always add more later.

Add a very generous amount of olive oil. A quality extra virgin olive oil is best for pesto.

Pulse the mixture, scrape down the sides and pulse again until you reach a loose, rough paste. Add more olive oil as you go if needed.

Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt of lemon juice as you like. Then store in a clean jar in the fridge. To make it last longer, cover it with a thin layer of olive oil to protect it from the air. Use it up within a week.

Pesto is not just for pasta! Use it for a dip, stir it into hummus or mayo, spread it into wraps or sandwiches, toss it through roasted veg or steamed greens, dollop it on your grainy salads…

A Fresh Start

Every year it happens, we are waiting and waiting and then bang out of the blue it all starts again. I guess life is like that sometimes, we push and we shove and want to change things, and then when we finally just accept the ways things are (often because what we were doing was making no difference anyway) and least expect it things fall into place.

So it was this morning with my first farm walk in two weeks. We have been struggling with rain and frost and snow for the past two months, and then this morning bright sunshine, singing birds, and growth were evident all around.

We have been busy planting trees and doing some essential maintenance on the tunnels, thinking we had all the time in the world and now suddenly we do not.  The crops need to have our focus again, they are flying. We are finally restarting kale harvest and leeks, and purple sprouting broccoli.

We need to get back into the fields and that starts today.

The first new kale harvest is an unusual one, as we wait for the regrowth, having carefully nurtured the plants over winter, cleaned them and fed them nothing seems to happen for an eternity and then suddenly there is the new kale.

Nature is very subtle, we are always on the watch for change, and somehow just suddenly it changes without you noticing. Like a seed germinating, one day it is a seed and the next it is a plant is has germinated, just like that, this is the miracle and power of nature. It is the same with the kale regrowing, it just happens when the time is right. Or the birds singing a spring morning chorus they just begin.

I get excited at this time of the year, the start of a new growing season and the challenges and opportunities it brings fill me with hope for the year.

It is a natural cycle and as we emerge from the dark winter months there is a sense, at least on the farm, of a new slate, a fresh start, a chance to begin the journey anew.

Nature is wonderful like that, and up until this period in man’s history it has been stable and consistent. I read this morning that the Gulf Stream which here in Northern Europe we rely on for our stable weather patterns is not in good shape. As a result of climate breakdown the ocean currents that power our climate are in turmoil.

These complex global climate regulation mechanisms are hard to understand I would imagine, but there are clear signs that climate stability all over our one and only beautiful home is being compromised.

I do admit to getting frustrated with the slow pace of change, it doesn’t make sense to me. There is a phenomenal opportunity now to take the risk and invest in Green Energy, to cut consumption and do so much more. We as a small farm have done it, and we as a small country can do it.

But maybe it is like the kale regrowing or the seed germinating, you can’t force the seed to grow faster or the kale to appear faster, but all of a sudden without even noticing it has changed.

Maybe that is happening now too with movement to cut consumption, power our lives with green energy, moving to more plant based diets, all these things are happening.

You are causing change by supporting us and as always we could not do what we do without you.

Thank you.

Kenneth

Sign up for a fruit and veg box subscription or build your own box. We deliver to every address in Ireland! Head to www.greenearthorganics.ie to place your order. Thank you.

4 Ways With… Leeks

Leeks are such beautiful vegetables and they grow really well here in Ireland. Make the most of their sweet, mellow flavour by giving them the starring role on your plate. I absolutely adore them in this easy tarte tatin recipe – a must try!

As part of my ‘4 Ways With…” series, here are 4 new luscious leek recipes for you. Let us know your favourite leek recipes in the comments or over on our facebook group. We love to see what you make with our wonderful organic produce. As always, the words in bold are clickable links which will take you to our shop so that you can easily find the products to add to your order.

Liz x


Mushroom, Leek & Butterbean Pie

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Split the leeks in half, lengthways, keeping them intact at the base. Run them under a tap and rinse out all the mud between the layers.

Slice the dark green part of the leeks into 1-2cm chunks and the mushrooms into halves or quarters and sauté with the butter or oil and a pinch of salt.

When the mushrooms and dark greens have started to cook down a little, slice the pale part of the leeks and add that to the pan too with an extra pinch of salt.

Peel and slice the garlic cloves and pull off the thyme leaves and add them to the pan too. Sauté gently for around 10 minutes or until very fragrant and the vegetables are softened and mostly cooked through.

Add the mustard and either a half glass of white wine or a tiny splash of vinegar and stir well.

Sprinkle in the flour and nutritional yeast, stir to coat the vegetables, and then add generous splashes of oat milk and keep stirring and cooking out the flour until you get to to a silky, creamy consistency.

Taste and adjust the seasoning with pepper and more salt as needed. Then drain the butterbeans (reserve the aquafaba for mayonnaise or clafoutis) and add them to the pie filling.

Then either tip the filling into a pie dish and cover quickly with pastry or pop the pastry straight onto your pan if it is oven and hob safe. Work to get the pie in the oven quickly if your filling is still hot otherwise the pastry will melt.

Put the pie into the oven for about 25 minutes or until the pastry is cooked through and the filling is bubbling. Slice into wedges and serve with steamed greens and some extra wholegrain mustard on the side.


Leek & Potato Soup

Ingredients (serves 2 or 4 as starters)

  • 1 tbsp butter or oil
  • 1 leek
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 stock cube
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • *optional extras – garlic, celery, carrot, fresh herbs, a tin of chickpeas/white beans…

Method

Leek and potato soup couldn’t be simpler and it’s my kids favourite soup. They like it left chunky and brothy like in the photo, but it’s delicious blended smooth too.

Sauté the green part of the leek (thinly sliced) in the oil/butter with diced potatoes until softening – about 8 minutes.

Add the thinly sliced paler part of the leek, optional extras like garlic, thyme, rosemary, diced celery or carrots etc and sauté for a few more minutes.

Add a stock cube and cover the vegetables with hot water.

Simmer until the potatoes are cooked through. Then either leave chunky or blend until smooth.

Taste and adjust the seasoning. I always like a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some freshly ground black pepper in my soup to brighten and lift the flavours.

*Bulk it out and add some plant protein with a drained tin of chickpeas or white beans simmered into the soup.


Leeks Vinaigrette with Lentils & Herbs

Ingredients (serves 2 or 4 as a side)

  • 1 leek
  • 1 tbsp oil or butter
  • 1 tin of green lentils (or cook dried lentils from scratch)
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • salt to taste
  • fresh herbs (tarragon or dill go really well here)
  • *optional extras – toasted nuts or seeds, capers, olives…

Method

Traditionally, leeks are boiled in salted water then cooled and drained before dressing with a classic vinaigrette. I like to half sauté and half steam my leeks to add a little caramelised colour to the dish.

Split and wash the leeks, keeping them intact at the root end. Then cut into long chunks, about the length of your index finger.

Place the leeks – beautiful, stripy, cut side down – in a hot frying pan with the butter or oil. Sprinkle over a pinch of salt and allow the leeks to take on some colour. Don’t move them around in the pan, let them sit in one delicate piece. Then after about 4 minutes, put the lid on the frying pan and allow the leeks to steam in their own juices. You may wish to turn the heat down to medium at this stage.

Test that they are cooked through with a small, sharp knife. Then plate them up.

Put the cooked lentils into a large bowl or platter (drain the tin or simmer dried lentils in stock until soft). Make a classic vinaigrette by mixing the olive oil, vinegar and dijon mustard with a pinch of salt.

Arrange the leeks on top of the lentils and drench with the vinaigrette. Then scatter over some freshly picked tarragon or dill and enjoy with some fresh, crusty bread and a crisp glass of white wine.

*Sprinkle over some toasted walnuts or other nuts or seeds you like or some salty capers or green olives to give the salad an extra dimension.


Charred Leeks with Romesco Sauce

Ingredients (serves 2)

Method

This recipe is my nod to the Catalonian calçot festival which I have never been to but have high on my bucket list. Calçots are extraordinary vegetables, somewhere between a small leek and a large scallion, so leeks work really well as an alternative. Traditionally calçots are grilled over open flame until blackened on the outside and perfectly sweet, smokey and juicy inside. Then they are wrapped in newspaper and left to rest. They are delightfully messy to eat. Peel off the burnt outer layer, dunk the sweet middle in nutty romesco sauce and lower the sweet, tender vegetable into your mouth and enjoy.

My version with leeks is so delicious, you’ve just got to try it! I love this messy meal with some really good bread to mop up the juices and a large glass of red wine. We sell some excellent organic Spanish wines which would go perfectly.

Make the romesco sauce by blending the almonds, red pepper, garlic, olive oil and vinegar into a semi-smooth sauce. Taste and season with a big pinch of salt.

Split and rinse the leeks, leaving the roots intact. Then slice them into long pieces, carefully keeping the layers all together.

Carefully put them in a large, hot frying pan with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and allow them to take on a good amount of colour before covering the pan with a lid and steaming them in their own juices until soft.

They should be soft all the way through and the burnt edges should contrast beautifully with the sweet, silky middles.

Spread some romesco sauce on a large platter, then place the hot leeks on top and eat them immediately. Scoop them up with a fork or your hands and finish off the sauce with torn chunks of bread. Absolutely delicious!

4 Ways With…Carrots!

Carrots are such a staple you’d be forgiven if you’d never thought of them as the main event of a meal or barely even given carrots a second thought. But we love carrots over at Green Earth Organics and you’ll always find them in our subscription boxes. Covered in mud and fresh from the field here in Galway, I can honestly say these are the best carrots I’ve ever tasted. The scrubbed, plastic wrapped supermarket carrots just don’t compare. Muddy carrots seem to stay fresh longer and taste sweeter so if you get scrubbed ones, keep them in the fridge and use them in a week or so, the muddy ones are ok in a dark, cool kitchen cupboard or pantry for much longer.

Carrot & Mint Fritters, Carrot Orange & Sesame Salad, Carrot Chickpea & Apricot Tagine, Carrot Cake Porridge.

I’ve had quite a few requests for carrot recipes as that’s what most people seem to end up with as their next box is arriving – so here are four ways I cook carrots regularly. You can also click on my raw carrot cake recipe which uses a whopping 600g of carrot, my smoked carrot strips which are fabulous for breakfast with wobbly scrambled tofu or on a toasted bagel with cream cheese or my butterbean barleyotto topped with roasted carrots and carrot top pesto if you’d like further carroty inspiration. Please do share your favourite carrot recipes with us too – in the comments or over on our friendly facebook group. Liz x

Watch this ‘4 Ways With Carrots’ video (you can skip to the recipe you are looking for) or the recipes are below.

Carrot, Chickpea & Apricot Tagine

A warming Middle Eastern stew, simple to put together with punchy flavours from the chermoula paste.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

Method

Dice the onion and sauté it over a medium-high heat in a large pot. While it is cooking make the chermoula paste.

Crush the cumin and coriander seeds with a pestle and mortar until roughly broken up. Add the peeled cloves of garlic and crush some more. Then add the chilli flakes and smoked paprika and stir in 2 tbsp of olive oil. Finely dice the preserved lemon and stir it into the spices. Instead of using a pestle and mortar you could use a small blender and pulse the ingredients together into a rough paste.

Add the chermoula paste to the onions and stir for a few minutes to toast the cumin and coriander seeds. Once they are very fragrant, drain the tins of chickpeas and add them to the pot.

Chop the carrots into chunky slices and add them to the pot along with the two tins of chopped tomatoes and the tsp of ground cinnamon. Half fill the tomato tins with water and swirl out any remaining tomatoey juices into the pot.

Slice up the apricots and add them to the stew, season it really well with salt and pepper then put the lid on and simmer for an hour or so until the carrots are cooked through and the stew is rich and flavoursome.

Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed and serve with cous cous or rice or breads or even on it’s own. It’s fantastic with some freshly chopped parsley or coriander mixed through right before serving too. I’ve topped mine in the photo above with some homemade z’atar which is simply an even mix of toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme and ground sumac.


Carrot Cake Porridge

Sweet spices, grated carrot, creamy oats…delicious topped with walnuts on a cold morning.

Ingredients (serves 1)

Method

Grate a carrot and put it in a small pot with the oat milk, oats, spices, raisins, oats and maple syrup.

Simmer and stir until hot and creamy, then serve topped with walnuts and a dusting of cinnamon. Add an extra drizzle of maple syrup if you like too!


Carrot & Mint Fritters with Yogurt, Leaves & Lemon

Fritters are a fantastic light lunch with salad leaves and a simple dip. Or have them as a sandwich filler? Very versatile, use whatever herbs, spices and veg you fancy. This combination is especially delicious though. Tastes like Spring is around the corner!

Ingredients (makes 4 fritters)

Method

Whisk the gram flour and water together into a smooth batter, then season it well with a big pinch of salt and pepper.

Stir in the grated carrot and chopped mint and then fry well spaced dollops of the mixture in a pre-heated to medium-high, well oiled frying pan. Fry on both sides for about 3-5 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy and cooked through.

Serve hot with a couple of spoons of natural yogurt with a little lemon zested over it (lemon and mint work so well together), a few salad leaves and a wedge of fresh lemon to squeeze over the leaves and the fritters.


Carrot, Blood Orange & Sesame Salad

Toasty, salty, sweet, fresh and tangy – just the perfect combinations. This simple salad takes very little time to put together but has all the big time flavours!

Ingredients (serves 1-2)

Method

Arrange some salad leaves in bowls. Top the leaves with grated carrot.

Mix the toasted sesame oil and soy sauce together with a tsp or so of finely grated blood orange zest. Pour this dressing over the grated carrot.

Peel the blood orange with a small, sharp knife by slicing off the top and bottom then carefully slicing away the skin and white pith.

Chop the blood orange into little chunks and scatter them over the grated carrot.

Top with toasted sesame seeds and enjoy!

Thanks From a Little Robin

The money you spend in a local business generally goes back into the locality. It is often the unforeseen and indirect ways in which that support matters, take Green Earth Organics today.

Recently we have collaborated with two local small businesses. Rachel who now makes chutney and cranberry sauce for us and Liz who now writes our recipes on our blog. In the last week we have had dealings with our IT support company based here in Galway, our two web developers one based in Athlone and one in Cork, our electrician and plumber based in Galway. Our van company based in Dublin, our tractor mechanic and van mechanic in Galway. I am just out of a meeting with our accountant, he lives locally. A couple of local builders and steel workers help us out regularly, our agricultural contractors, and the purchases we make in the local hardware stores and shops all send the money back into the locality. Not to mention all the IRISH suppliers we buy from weekly and of course our employees. Here is an interview Liz did with Franck from the French market.

Your purchase today or tomorrow pays for all of this. It is also a well-known fact that a greater percentage of money spent in a small business stays in the locality, while money spent in big retailers disappears into investors pockets, and we know a little bit about dealing with supermarkets. A few years back we stopped supplying supermarkets, we had had enough. Despite what their marketing blurb might say their treatment of growers is the same. The price of produce on the supermarket shelves often does not reflect the real and true cost of food. The lower the price the more that has been extracted for less, from the land, the worker, the farmer and sometimes from all three.

To survive, the modern-day farm needs to expand, it needs to take on debt, it needs to push the efficiency of the animals and the land to the brink. Intensification it seems is the only route to viability. Disillusioned with the industry today, a career on the land is not generally what a young person aspires to, and who would blame them? The traditional model of the family farm is, we are told, “unsustainable”. Our government and the powers that be are insistent that the best way forward for food, is large scale intensification. Supermarkets are putting more and more distance between the farmer and the consumer, it is now impossible to understand where our food comes from our how it was produced.

While the conventional system ignores the true cost of food, and is driven by supermarket dictated prices, the sustainable food movement aims to value food fairly, create a connection between growers and consumers and reward those involved in the production fairly according to their input. Your decision to support us is supporting an idea, a sector, a farm, individual’s livelihoods, biodiversity, the soil, the environment, and other sustainable businesses. You are sending a message to the powers that be that you believe there is a better way and crucially you are taking positive action for a more sustainable future.

Thank you

Kenneth

PS our Christmas shop is now open! Treat your loved ones to some real, honest food this year with a box of organic fruit or veg and have a look at our lovely selection of hampers. Please get your Christmas week pre-orders in soon to avoid disappointment.

Leek & Thyme Tarte Tatin

I love a tarte tatin. It’s one of those deceptively simple dishes. One that wows your guests but is actually really very easy to make. A traditional tarte tatin is a French dessert made with caramelised apples and puff pastry. But you can take the concept and run with it in any direction. I love making savoury versions as a light lunch or fancy looking starter with beautiful, bitter salad leaves. Balsamic beetroot? Parsnip and apple? Red onion? Brussels sprout and chestnut? The list goes on. But my favourite by far has to be this luscious leek version.

Leek might be one of the most underrated vegetables. When highlighted like this and showcased as the main event, leeks really stand out as the beautiful, sweet, soft vegetables that they are. Mellow and silky, leeks go incredibly well with vinegar and thyme. If you want to take it up a notch you could add a slick of Dijon mustard to the pastry before tucking it over the leeks too. Another variation I make sometimes is with a sprinkle of capers in the base of the pan. That combination of sweet, sharp and fragrant is so incredibly good. I hope you enjoy it!

Did you try this recipe? Don’t forget to share it with your friends, tag us @greenearthorganics1 in any photos on Instagram and let us know how it went in the comments. Liz x

Ingredients (serves 8 as a starter)

Method

Preheat the oven to 200C. Get an oven and hob safe pan ready. If you don’t have one you can use a baking dish and do the entire process in steps in the oven instead.

Start by cleaning the leeks. The easiest way to do this is to split them down the middle, keeping the root end intact, then run them under a tap to quickly clean the mud out of each layer.

In an oven and hob safe pan, melt the butter then add the olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle over the sugar and half the thyme leaves. (If you want to add capers to the dish, do it now. Sprinkle a tbsp or two evenly into the pan for the odd little salty flavour bomb.)

Then measure the leeks against the pan and cut them in long slices to snugly fit, cut side down, the entire base of the pan. Try and keep the slices intact, don’t move them around once they are in place.

Add the vinegar to the leeks and then season them well with a big pinch of salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Add a few more fresh thyme leaves – reserve some for decorating the dish at the end. Allow the leeks to par cook on the hob so that they start to caramelise with the sugar and fat before adding the pastry.

Turn the heat off then, working quickly, cover the leeks with the puff pastry. Trim it to size and use the off cuts to fill any gaps. This will be the bottom of the tart so no need to be too neat. (If you’d like to add Dijon mustard, brush it over the pastry before popping it on the leeks, mustard side down.)

Tuck the pastry gently in around the edges then pop the dish into the oven to bake. It should only take around 20 minutes or so but just keep an eye on it. It’s ready when the pastry is risen and golden.

Then take the pan out of the oven and let it settle for a couple of minutes. Put a large platter or wooden chopping board over the pan, then in one swift, confident movement, turn the dish upside down (don’t forget to use oven gloves as the pan will still be hot!)

Carefully pick up the upside down pan and you should have a gorgeous dish! Sprinkle over some more fresh thyme leaves, slice with a large, very sharp knife and serve with a simple salad.

Here’s a quick video of the recipe. Hope you find it helpful!

This would be fantastic with a chilled glass of white wine. Check out our organic selection here.


Beet Bourguignon

This is my plant based take on the classic French stew. Beetroots have a beautifully earthy, almost bloody quality which seeps and simmers into a spectacularly rounded sauce. I roast wedges of beetroot and onion, chunks or whole mushrooms and whole, peeled cloves of garlic before starting the lentil stew to create a complexity of flavour you wouldn’t get from simply simmering everything together.

Roasting caramelises the edges of vegetables and brings little sweet and smokey flavours and textures to the finished dish. It’s those layers of flavour…the outer edges that caramelise, the middle that is sweet and soft, the simmering richness, the fragrance of bay and thyme leaves, the tang and texture of red wine…that make a simple stew into a memorable meal. Serve on mashed potatoes or with good bread, some wilted greens, whatever is in season, and a dollop of Dijon mustard. Enjoy in front of a fire on a chilly winters evening with a glass of red wine. Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

Method

Turn your oven on to 200C and put the beetroot, onion, garlic cloves and mushrooms in an oven and hob safe pot. Drizzle a tbsp or so of olive oil over the vegetables, season them generously with salt and pepper and mix well.

Roast the vegetables in the oven until they take on some colour and start to soften. This should take around 30 minutes. Take the pot out of the oven and stir the vegetables every 10 minutes or so to ensure each vegetable feels the full force of the heat and gets a little caramelised.

Then bring the pot onto the hob and add the mug of lentils, the thyme, bay leaves and mug of wine. Get the pot on to simmer and add the water or stock.

Let the dish simmer until the lentils are cooked through. This should take around 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it, you may need to add more water or stock if it starts to dry out.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper as you like. Then serve with good bread or mashed potatoes and some wilted greens.

Illustrations from my cookbook, Cook Draw Feed. Available to add to your next order here.

Did you make this recipe? Share it with us and your friends on our Facebook page or tag us on Instagram. We love to see our recipes leave the page. If you like this recipe, you’ll love my book. It’s available to buy from the farm shop here.

Plans, Progress and Polytunnels

Our very first polytunnel going up in 2005. Expertly erected by Jenny, my dad and myself! The little stone shed is where my grandad used to bring in the sheep when it was lambing season.

When we set out 15 years ago to create a farm and a home delivery business, we didn’t think further than the next week or two. We were convinced that what we were doing was necessary, driven by a deep desire to take care of the planet. Most business advisers would not buy into that, no plan, no detailed analysis of figures, no projections, it was effectively a week to week operation.

Looking back, although there wasn’t a detailed plan, there was a definite direction. I think anybody who starts a business, if they are honest, will tell you things don’t always turn out the way you expect. We did not know what to expect and really had no idea what we were doing. I was not trained in business or organic farming; I was a trained scientist! The road to present day has been tough, the goal posts kept changing and the challenges changed sometimes daily. But our ideology kept us going (just!) and kept us on the right track. Our vision was always strong and the core belief to protect our planet meant we kept on ‘keeping on’, kept on showing up even and especially on the days when we really didn’t want to get out of bed, to face the reality of the tough choices and hard work ahead.

Today we do have detailed plans, figures and projections. All the necessary evils to keep a busy business and farm afloat. If the last fifteen years have been challenging, this year has been exceptional. It has been tough for so many, the virus has changed everything and even the best laid plans have been thrown out the window, it almost feels like being back at the start again. We have not known, week to week, what to expect and we have been the lucky ones! We have been very busy and we are eternally grateful to you for that.

The ups and downs and the challenges and anxieties of this year have kept many people up at night. Businesses that don’t know if they will ever open again, the jobs that may be lost, the fear and anxiety in society, but there is so much hope also. Never in my years of sea swimming have I seen so many people embrace the sea, never have I seen so many people out on bicycles and walking and running and being out in nature. This brings a remarkable positive energy, because if more people are happier then that will rub off on others too.

Our shopping habits have changed too, we have all had to embrace the inevitable move to online shopping, but can we do that online shopping a little more wisely? Can we support local while online rather than funnelling the funds into the pockets of a very large and extremely powerful retailer(s)? Can we again bring our support back behind small local businesses that will need it now more than ever?

We too are asking you for your support. Can you get your fruit, veg and sustainable groceries from us? Can you give the gift of a Christmas veg box or hamper to a friend or family member? Can you support other local businesses too? We have a helpful guide here where you can find a few ethical and local businesses that we recommend.

This year has brought us back into the uncertainty of operating day to day and week to week, but one thing that has never changed is our commitment to growing safe, sustainable food. We wouldn’t be here today without your support, thank you so much.

Kenneth

PS Our Christmas shop is open, get your orders in now! 

Barleyotto, Roasted Carrots & Carrot Top Pesto

I’ve been cooking so much with the gorgeous, super-fresh carrots from the farm recently. Carrots are one of those staple vegetables that often get overlooked as ‘boring’ and sent to the side of the plate or the base of the meal. I love elevating these humble vegetables and making them the star of the show. Once you taste the difference between watery, bland supermarket carrots and the real deal from the farm, you’ll see why I bang on about showcasing each vegetable in its own right.

Root to Shoot

I’m sure most of you already know that the carrot tops are edible too. In this recipe, and in many of my recipes, I show you how to make a meal using the whole vegetable, root to shoot! I hate waste, not just because I don’t have the cash to splash, but also because of the environmental impact. Did you know that reducing food waste has been identified as one of the most effective ways to fight climate change? According to Stop Food Waste, 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted each year. This directly contributes to food shortages, water stress, biodiversity loss and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, more than one quarter of food produced is wasted: with food loss and waste contributing 8-10% of total emissions. So we should all do our part in reducing food waste by learning how to use the entire vegetable and putting as little as possible in the compost bin (and certainly never put food waste in the general waste heading for landfill). Apart from the environmental issues regarding food waste, it is surprising how much important dietary fibre and incredibly powerful nutrients are found in the peels and other parts of vegetables we often throw away. Good for your body, your pocket and your planet, what’s not to like?

Ingredients (to serve 4)

Method

Start by removing the leafy tops from the carrots. Roughly chop them and put them in a food processor with the blade attachment. Then slice the carrots lengthways into halves or quarters, put them in a roasting dish, dress them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and pop them in a hot oven (180C) to roast while you get on with the barleyotto/risotto.

Peel and dice the onion and start sautéing it in a heavy bottomed pan with a little olive oil. You could also add a knob of dairy free butter to the pan for extra flavour at this stage.

Dice the celery and garlic. Add 3 cloves to to the pot (along with all the celery) and one garlic clove to the food processor where you’ll make the carrot top pesto.

Season the onion, celery and garlic with a little salt and allow it to cook down and soften a little. Then add the mug of barley grains, the glass of wine (you can replace this with a small splash of cider/white wine vinegar or the juice of a lemon), the stock cube/bouillon and 3 mugs of water. (If you are using risotto rice, add the liquid gradually, stir often and allow it to soak in before adding more). Add the drained butterbeans and let the barleyotto simmer until the grains are cooked through. Stir regularly and keep an eye on the liquid levels, you may need to add more.

While the carrots and the barleyotto/risotto are cooking, focus on the pesto.

Toast the sunflower seeds in a hot, dry frying pan until they are fragrant and start to pop and colour. Then add them to the food processor with the carrot tops and garlic.

Add the juice of half a lemon or a tbsp of cider or white wine vinegar, a few tbsp of nutritional yeast (this brings an irresistible, rich, cheesy flavour to the pesto), a pinch of salt, some freshly ground back pepper and enough olive oil to blend the pesto into a bright green sauce. If you don’t have very many carrot tops you can also add some chopped kale or spinach to the blender.

Pulse the pesto until it comes together into a loose green sauce. Then taste it and adjust the seasoning if needed with extra salt, pepper, lemon juice or olive oil as you like and blend again until you are happy with the flavour and consistency.

When the barley or risotto is cooked through, taste it and check the seasoning, adjusting it if necessary. Then serve in bowls topped with roasted carrots and carrot top pesto. Any spare pesto can be kept in a jar in the fridge for up to one week. Use it in sandwiches, to top crackers or dip vegetables in, stir it through pasta or drizzle it over steamed greens or roasted vegetables.

Enjoy! 💚 Liz

Did you make this recipe? Let us know how it went in the comments and share it with us and your friends on your Facebook or Instagram. We love to see the recipes leave the blog. If you like this recipe, you’ll love my book. And don’t forget to support your local, organic farmers here by signing up for a regular veg box delivery and adding our carefully curated groceries to your order as and when you need them. Thank you!