The new season kale coming out of our fields and tunnels is so stunning! We are adding it to all our meals. Don’t forget to add some to your next order! Here’s a quick and easy kale pesto recipe which is so handy, not just for pesto pasta, but for sandwiches and wraps, to spread on toast and top with scrambled egg/tofu, to toss through freshly boiled new potatoes… My recipe is dairy and nut free to make it allergen friendly (I use pumpkin seeds which are incredibly nutritious and ours come in compostable bags), but as always, tweak it to your liking with different nuts/seeds and cheese. And do share how you love to eat your pesto in the comments below.
Ingredients (makes a jar like the one pictured above)
100g kale – rinsed
100g pumpkin seeds – toasted
1 clove of garlic – peeled
1 pinch of salt
1/2 a lemon – zest and juice
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
100ml extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for a thin layer on top at the end)
Put all the ingredients into a blender or food processor.
Pulse until the ingredients come together into a rough, textured sauce.
Taste for seasoning and add more olive oil, lemon juice or salt as desired.
Spoon into a clean jar and top with a layer of olive oil to keep it fresher for longer.
Keep in the fridge and use within a week, or freeze for longer storage.
As I write, it is a beautiful evening, the sun has just emerged from behind a cloud and there is a golden bright sunset. It seems we are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel. It is not before time too as we fast approach the summer solstice.
Food has always brought people together. Two generations ago the act of bringing in the hay was a sociable event, square bales were loaded onto trailers, picnics or sandwiches were often had in the fields followed by a cold drink at the end of the day, chat and talk and craic was had by all.
In our continued march towards bigger more intensive agricultural systems the people have all but disappeared from the fields having been replaced by machines. This it seems is the price of progress and maybe to a certain extent it is necessary, but it makes me a little sad. Maybe it is nostalgia? As a kid having brought in that hay, I remember the sun and the sandwiches and the people. But when I think a little more, I also remember the blisters and the terrible heat and scratchiness of having to heave those bales to the very top of a galvanised hay shed, those bit’s I do not miss.
The machines on our farm facilitate the work and we do everything we can to avoid having to hand weed vegetables rows that are nearly half a kilometre in length. That job is no fun and where there is a smarter way to do something, we take it.
Finding solutions to repetitive work is a must on small-scale mixed organic vegetable farms and we do, but we still have people in the fields every day and our farm is active and alive with people, vegetables, and biodiversity.
We have been working very hard over the last six months to get the farm to the point it is at now.
Even so it seems that there are not enough hours in the day to keep up with the work. Everything has reached a crescendo and the list has been growing, what to prioritise during those rare dry days has become a source of pressure behind the eyes, we can only just keep doing the first things first.
The work always gets done the question is can we get it done in time? If we miss a sowing date, we don’t get second shot, we never regain those lost days, and the plants may struggle to reach maturity.
It’s a relatively small window and for the farm to reach it’s breakeven point and that’s all we ever hope for, we can afford to miss very few of those planting dates.
Here we are on the cusp on July and the list of produce harvested from the farm is steadily growing week on week. The first fresh bunches of beetroot, our own kale, salad, lettuce red and green, spinach and chard are ready. The cucumbers are a week away and the new potatoes 2-3 weeks away, the first of our own tomatoes are nearly there too, all we need is the sun.
Then there is the irony that as we come into our own produce as the farm finally starts to crank up a gear and we start to harvest the freshest produce we face a downturn in orders due to summer holidays and this year the impact is even greater as the country opens.
I would ask if you can at all, continue to support our farm, help get us through the summer months, we rely on your support to keep doing what we do.
So as the sun sets, there is no hay to bring in, but I look forward to a dry bright day tomorrow as we have big day of harvest before us.
Green smoothies are not a punishment! Mine is sweet, creamy and deliciously refreshing! Give it a try, it’s full of goodness!
🌱SPINACH is high in iron, calcium and vitamins C and K.
💪TAHINI is a great source of healthy fats, protein, B vitamins and vitamin E.
🍌BANANAS are an excellent source of potassium, B6 and energy-giving carbohydrates. They’re also a brilliant prebiotic with a high fibre content.
🌴DATES are a natural sweetener, high in fibre, antioxidants and minerals.
🌾OAT MILK is environmentally friendly, high in fibre and deliciously creamy.
Add the certified organic ingredients to your next order here. We deliver to every address in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
spinach or kale – rinsed, one large handful per person
banana – half of one per person (chopped and frozen for an extra creamy texture)
dates – pitted, 1 or 2 per person for added sweetness
tahini – 1 heaped tsp per person
oat milk (or any milk you like) – 1/2 a glass per person
optional ice – especially good if your banana is not frozen
Add all the ingredients to a strong blender and blend until smooth.
Pour into glasses and drink immediately.
TOP TIPS: *If you don’t have frozen banana, add a couple of ice cubes per person to the blender too for a chilled smoothie. *If your blender is not very strong, soak the dates before blending to help them break down faster.
Buddha bowls are all about balance. A vibrant bowl brimming with a diverse selection of grains, pulses, greens, vegetables, nuts or seeds and delicious dressings. They are a brilliant way to build a balanced lunch or dinner from some easily prepped boxes and jars of ingredients in your fridge. To me, they are the ultimate quick-but-satisfying working lunch, and a delicious way to pack in your 30 recommended ‘plant points’ per week. Buddha bowls are basically salads dialled up to 11 and in my old life running a cafe they were always the best sellers.
Here’s my flexible ‘recipe’ of what I happened to include in this week’s buddha bowl prep. But please just use it as a basic framework, the joy of Buddha bowls is making them your own using what you have and getting creative in the kitchen. Share your amazing Buddha bowl pictures with us over on our community facebook group. We love to see what you’ve made with our wonderful organic produce (and we all need a bit of inspiration sometimes).
VEGETABLES for roasting (eg sweet potato, cauliflower, squash, beetroot, swede, parsnips, onion, carrots, peppers, aubergine, courgettes, tomatoes… whatever comes in your box)
DRESSINGS (eg lemon juice and olive oil, vinaigrette, tahini sauce, pesto, harissa, soy-lime-sesame, mayonaise… try and match your dressing to the other ingredients in your bowl)
optional extra PROTEINS (eg hummus, tofu, tempeh, falafel, cheeses…)
extra TOPPINGS for flavour and texture (eg ferments, pickles, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, chopped fresh cucumber/tomato/radish/scallions, herbs, sprouts, microgreens…)
***Be realistic about how much food to prepare. Bear in mind that prepared food will stay fresh in airtight boxes in the fridge for 3 days so only make 3 days worth of food at a time.***
Start with roasting VEGETABLES. I like to divide mine into two trays – harder, slower cooking vegetables like roots and winter squashes in one and softer, faster cooking ‘med veg’ like peppers, tomatoes, courgettes in another.
Scrub and chop your chosen vegetables and put them into roasting trays with a little olive oil and seasoning (I like to keep the seasoning neutral with just salt and pepper at this stage so I can play with flavours when I plate up).
Roast in a hot oven until the vegetables are soft. Allow them to cool completely them pack them into boxes in the fridge.
Meanwhile cook some GRAINS/PULSES. I often cook a batch of orzo pasta (once your pasta is cooked, drain and rinse with cold water and toss with some olive oil to keep it fresh) and a batch of quinoa to get us through a few working lunches. You could skip this bit of prep and cook your grains on the day though if you’ll have time? Some warm rice with ready roasted veg and dressings is a brilliant lunch.
Or just use ready cooked tins of beans or lentils – I do this often, simply open, drain and rinse a tin of chickpeas/beans/lentils and serve with the prepped veg and dressings for the speediest lunch. We sell a range of organic tinned pulses which you can add to your veg order here.
Quinoa is very easy to cook, just like rice. Measure out a small mug into a fine sieve, give it a rinse then pop it into a small pot with two scant mugs of water. Bring to the boil with the lid on, then immediately turn to the lowest setting and let it simmer until it has absorbed all the water and released its little tails. Let the quinoa cool down before storing in an airtight container in the fridge.
Cook a big batch of GREENS. Purple sprouting broccoli and kale are my favourite at the moment and I just steam fry them in a pot with a little seasoning until they are tender. If I get salad leaves in my weekly veg box I’ll make sure I use those first as they don’t last more than 2 or 3 days.
Make a couple of DRESSINGS to keep things interesting. I love a simple vinaigrette (mix 1 tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice with 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and add other seasonings like 1 tsp of mustard, a tiny bit of maple syrup, a pinch of salt and pepper…) or a creamy tahini sauce (mix 3 tbsp of tahini with the juice of half a lemon, a splash of water and seasoning like a pinch of salt and garlic powder). I also like to make harissa, pesto, chilli jam, aioli etc so whatever sauces/dressings I have to hand will get used in my buddha bowls.
Prepare NUTS/SEEDS, PROTEINS and extra TOPPINGS. Have a look at my tamari toasted seeds recipe here. Or simply use mixed nuts or seeds to add crunch and extra nutrition to your bowl. Keep a selection of ferments (sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented onions…), olives, pickles, sun-dried tomatoes etc to add another layer of flavour and texture to your bowls. There is already loads of protein going on in all the ingredients above, but if you like you can add even more protein to your bowls by adding a dollop of hummus, some slices of cheese, avocado, tempeh, tofu and so on.
Once you have filled your fridge with a selection of ready cooked delicious ingredients, then it’s a simple matter of building your bowl when you are hungry. I like to try and keep the flavours in a way that vaguely makes geographical or cultural sense. So I’ll have pasta, pesto, roasted med veg, olives, greens.. one day, then roasted roots, tahini dressing, chickpeas, harissa, hummus… another day. Rice, kimchi, greens, furikaki and tempeh another day. It doesn’t always work out like that with perfectly matching flavours, there have been some ‘interesting’ fusions happening, but certainly never a dull bowl!
It was many moons ago, in a life that was never quite meant to be, that I finally realised what it was we needed to do with my grandad’s farm.
You see 20 years ago I was very comfortable working away for the biotech industry in the UK, working in a laboratory researching different chemicals for this and that.
I am a scientist turned organic farmer and I have a very healthy respect for science. But there is one thing I do not agree with, it just does not make any sense to me, and that is the whole scale blanket application of chemicals on our food.
Chemicals that are meant for a laboratory should stay there, and if they are toxic to some life then generally speaking, they will be toxic to other life, it isn’t even that chemicals are ‘bad’ it is the prevalence and ubiquity of them in our food chain and our environment that is harmful.
They are in our food and they are not good for us, and they are not good for life in the countryside either, they really aren’t. Take a family of chemicals called the neonicotinoids, deemed safe for years, but then it was found that they do irreparable damage to bees and other insects. How, on any level, can using a chemical like that as a blanket spray across our countryside be justified?
Many of these chemicals do not just sit on the outside of the plant, they are systemic by nature. That means they are absorbed into the plant and do their damage from the inside out, so unfortunately simply washing veg and fruit doesn’t remove them.
Some produce are more heavily sprayed than others and two that regularly feature in the ‘dirty dozen’ are kale and spinach – which is ironic as both grow very well in organic systems. Eating organic of course is one of the easiest and best ways to avoid this unhealthy exposure.
It is possible to grow great food without the use of chemicals, it is a little harder, it takes a little more attention and planning, it requires more labour but isn’t it worth it in the end?
Surely the production of food in a way that contributes to our health and the health of the planet, a way that enhances and protects biodiversity, a way that encourages working with nature rather than against it must be the best way to grow food?
Thank you for taking a good hard look at how your food is produced and choosing to embrace and support organic – a healthier way of farming for us and our planet.
Have a look at our full range of organic fruit, veg and groceries here and why not consider making your life easy with a weekly fruit and veg box from us?
Have you tried a purple sweet potato yet? They are absolutely stunning and oh so delicious! I can never resist a baked sweet potato with a smokey bean chilli so here’s my quick and easy recipe. I’ve served it with lots or gorgeous garlicky kale spiked with lime too. So yum! What will you make with your purple sweet potatoes? I’m thinking purple gnocchi next, or maybe a purple sweet potato pie! Liz x
Ingredients (serves 4)
4 purple sweet potatoes
1 tbsp oil
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp each cumin seeds, ground coriander, smoked paprika and chilli flakes
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin kidney beans
1 tin black beans
another tbsp of oil
4 large handfuls of kale
4 more garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste
Scrub the sweet potatoes, prick them with a fork, pop them in a roasting dish and get them in a 200C hot oven to roast – they should only take about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile make the smokey bean chilli. Dice and then sauté the onion and garlic in the oil until soft and taking on some colour.
Add the spices and sauté for a few minutes to toast them and bring our their flavours.
Add the tin of tomatoes. Half fill the tin with water then swirl out all the tomatoey juices into the pot.
Drain and rinse the two tins of beans and add them to the pot to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or so then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile make the garlic and lime kale. Rinse the kale and tear the leaves away from the stems. Put the leaves in a bowl and the stems on the chopping board.
Finely chop the kale stems and the extra 4 cloves of garlic. Sauté them together in the tbsp of oil until soft. Then add the kale leaves and the juice of a lime. Season with salt and pepper and sauté for about 3 minutes to wilt the kale. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Serve the baked potatoes with the bean chilli and kale. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lime to the middle of each baked potato. Enjoy!
Have you tried the Jay and Joy range of vegan cheeses we sell yet? They are absolute game changers. There’s no doubt that there are some dodgy tasting plant based cheeses out there, but these are the real deal. We love that they use recognisable, all organic ingredients. We love that they are made using ancestral French cheese-making techniques. But most of all we love the flavour. Here are some serving suggestions to inspire you to make the most out of these delectable little boxes of cheese. Let us know your favourite way of eating them in the comments or over on our facebook group. We are always looking for new ways to enjoy our carefully curated organic products.
*as always, words in bold are clickable links to our shop so you can easily add the ingredients to your usual order
Simple as that! The sweet tang of the oranges contrasts the olive oil, salty cheese and olives perfectly. Every mouthful a delight.
Celeriac Steaks, Kale, Blue Cheese, Pear, Walnut
Method (serves 2)
Slice 4 steaks out of the middle of a celeriac – about 1cm thickness each. Then trim off the skin and knobbly roots of each slice. (Reserve the leftover ends of the celeriac for soups/stews/risottos…)
Melt a tbsp of plant based butter with a tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium high heat.
Then add the celeriac steaks and season them with a pinch of salt and some cracked black pepper. Fry on both sides until golden brown and tender – this takes about 10-15 minutes.
Keep the steaks warm, propped up in one side of the pan then add lots of rinsed and chopped kale to the pan. Stir fry to wilt for 3 minutes or so then taste and season if necessary (there may be enough seasoning already in the pan from the celeriac steaks and butter/oil).
Divide the cooked kale onto two warm plates, top with the celeriac steaks and then quickly toast two generous handfuls of walnuts in the now empty frying pan.
The balance of sweet pear, buttery celeriac, crunchy nuts and salty blue cheese is absolutely gorgeous. I hope you really enjoy it!
Baked Brie, Caramelised Red Onion & Thyme Toast
Method (serves 2)
Melt a generous tbsp of plant based butter and a tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan.
Add one peeled and sliced red onion and a pinch of salt and fry on medium for about 10 minutes or until it starts to collapse and caramelise.
Add four peeled and chopped cloves of garlic and fry for another 5 minutes or so.
Then to help the caramelisation, add a tsp of brown sugar and season with some black pepper and a tsp of fresh thyme leaves. Fry for another minute or so to bring the flavours together.
Meanwhile cut and toast two slices of sourdough bread.
Put the toast in a baking dish, divide the caramelised onion between the two slices and top with slices of Jay and Joy Brie.
Drizzle with a little olive oil and put the baking dish in a hot oven or under the grill for a few minutes. This vegan brie does not melt like regular brie, but warming it up really brings the dish together.
Scatter with a few more fresh thyme leaves and enjoy! Crunchy toast, sweet caramelised onion, creamy cheese and fragrant thyme…so good!
Dal and fritters are staples in our house. The dal is especially useful to have in your repertoire for those days when you are low on fresh veg just before your next veg box arrives. And of course bulking out a dal with whatever seasonal veg you have is always a good idea. I like to make it with a tin of coconut some days, usually in winter when the weather calls for something rich and creamy, and with a tin of tomato on other days when I want it lighter and tangy (as in the recipe illustration from my book above).
My fritters are not dissimilar to onion bhajis. Here with curry spices in the gram flour batter they go particularly well with the dal and you can add whatever shredded veg you have around – cauliflower, squash, carrot etc. Fritters also make great sandwich fillers or burger patty alternatives and of course they don’t have to be curry flavoured, add whatever herbs and spices you like to make them your own. I love courgette fritters with fresh herbs in the summer, squash chilli and sage in autumn, celeriac, preserved lemon and parsley…the possibilities are endless.
As always, let us know in the comments or over on our community Facebook group if you make this recipe. We love to see our recipes leave the screen. Don’t forget to share this blog with your friends and family.
Dice the onion or leek and soften it in a large pan on a medium high heat with the oil.
Add the cumin and mustard seeds and stir to toast them until fragrant. Then add the ground turmeric, ginger and fenugreek and stir to briefly toast for just a few seconds.
Add the mug of red lentils and the diced swede and stir to coat them in the spices. Then add the tin of coconut milk and two tins of water to the pan.
Season with salt and pepper and add the curry leaves (if you have them – buy online or at specialist Asian shops) and chilli flakes or chopped green finger chilli to infuse while the lentils and swede cook.
Bring the pot up to boil then turn down the heat and simmer, stirring often, until the lentils and swede are cooked through.
Meanwhile get the fritter mix ready. Whisk the gram flour, spices and water together into a smooth batter. Then grate the parsnips and add them to the batter. Stir well to coat all the grated parsnip with the batter.
Heat a frying pan with a generous slick of vegetable oil. Turn the heat to medium-high and fry whatever sized dollops of the fritter mix in the pan. Cook on both sides until golden brown on the outside and cooked through. It’s better to cook them slowly if they are large so that they don’t end up burnt on the outside and raw in the middle. Raw gram flour batter can be a little bitter.
Stir chopped and rinsed kale through the dal about 10 minutes before serving. Serve the dal and fritters in bowls with Indian chutneys and optional rice, popadoms etc.