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…

Preserved Lemons

A preserved lemon from my last batch which I made about 9 months ago.

Preserved lemons are a very North African/Middle Eastern thing and so go well in tagines, whizzed into hummus and blended into spice pastes or marinades. They are absolute flavour bombs and once you get a taste for them you’ll be hooked. Luckily they are cheap and easy to make yourself. Apart from the stunning flavour, what I really love about them is that they are a great example of compleating (a waste free principle of eating the whole fruit/vegetable). The rind of the lemon softens during fermentation and is then the best bit! Although don’t waste the flesh and the liquor, all that can be used to pep up dressings, risottos, soups, stews…anything that needs some salty, lemony goodness.

Here’s a quick video explaining the process, it’s one of those recipes which is easier to learn through watching. Liz x

Ingredients

  • organic lemons (unwaxed)
  • natural salt
  • olive oil (optional)
Just after jarring. These need 4 weeks fermenting at room temperature before they are ready.

Method

Rinse the lemons and prepare a clean chopping board, knife, tablespoon and large jar. They don’t need to be sterilised, but make sure everything is well cleaned and rinsed. Clean your work surface well too.

Slice the ends off a lemon (just a small sliver from the end that was attached to the tree, and the other end if it looks like it needs it. If it’s fresh and in good condition then just leave the bottom end on) then cut a deep score into the lemon about 3/4s of the way down.

Stuff the lemon with a tbsp of salt and press it firmly into the jar using the rolling pin to help.

Repeat until you have filled the jar or run out of lemons.

There should be enough juice in the lemons to create a brine to cover them all when pressed down. If not, add some extra lemon juice.

Weigh down the lemons under the brine using a small glass or a glass weight. Then add an optional layer of olive oil to float on top of the lemons and seal them from exposure to air.

Put the lid on (I like to make sure my jar is full enough so that the action of putting the lid on top of the weight pins down the lemons under the brine) and place the jar on a shelf at room temperature to ferment for 4 weeks.

During the first week of fermentation you may notice bubbles forming. Just open and close the lid to release any gases that have formed. Keep an eye on the jar and if any lemons start to rise about the brine just push them back under and re-arrange the weight.

After 4 weeks you should notice a change in texture, colour and aroma. They are done. Keep the jar in the fridge and use within a year.

For ease of use, you could purée the fermented mixture in the jar and then just take out a spoon or so to add salty lemony flavour to many dishes.

Puréed preserved lemons for easy use.

Upside-down Blood Orange Polenta Cake

Bring a little warm sunshine in your winter kitchen with beautiful, organic blood oranges from Italy.

Blood oranges are in season now and they are unmissable! Add them to your order here to make the most of their short season. They are sweeter and more perfumed than regular oranges and our organic ones are wax free. Zest to make the most of the bright, citrus flavour in their orange oil scented skin before slicing. Stir the zest through this pancake batter or through the polenta cake batter in the recipe below.

Polenta cakes are naturally gluten free and go so well with citrus flavours. They are moist and moreish with a gorgeous, sunny crumb…possibly my favourite type of cake! This is a riff on a classic lemon polenta cake recipe which is normally baked, then soaked with a zingy lemon syrup. In this recipe, instead of the lemon syrup, I have placed juicy slices of blood orange in the bottom of the cake tin to make the most of their stunning, ombre blush.

Let us know in the comments of over on our facebook group if you make this cake. I’d love to see your photos. Liz x

Ingredients

Method

Preheat the oven to 175C. Butter a 23cm cake tin with the tbsp of butter (preferably a loose bottomed one, but a regular cake tin is fine too).

Zest the oranges into a mixing bowl. Then trim a thin slice off the top and bottom of the oranges, and using a small, sharp knife, slice off the skin and white pith. Then slice the oranges into discs and arrange them in a neat layer in the bottom of the buttered cake tin.

Measure the rest of the ingredients into the mixing bowl with the orange zest and whisk until smooth.

Pour the batter over the layer of orange slices, even it out with a spatular and bake for 30 minutes.

Allow the cake to mostly cool in the tin. Then run a knife around to loosen it from the sides. Put a plate over the cake tin and turn it upside down. Carefully lift the cake tin off the plate and you should be left with a beautiful upside down cake. You may need to pop bits that stick to the bottom of the cake tin back onto the cake.

TIP: if you don’t have ground almonds you can easily make your own. Just blend whole or blanched almonds in a food processor until they resemble a rough flour.

Smoked Carrot & Scrambled Tofu

Arn’t we lucky that the worlds tastiest organic carrots are a staple in every weekly Green Earth Organics veg box? Here’s one way to use them up in something a little bit different. Before going plant based, smoked salmon and soft scrambled eggs was one of my favourite breakfasts, reserved for special occasions like Christmas morning, Mother’s Day birthdays and so on. So I’ve recreated the dish with smoked carrot strips and scrambled, wobbly, silken tofu. It’s honestly, so delicious! Especially when accompanied with a celebratory glass of fizz (we also do this alcohol free one).

Carrots are perfect for this dish, they’re just the right colour and texture. When steam-baked with all the salty, tangy, smokey flavours they get just soft enough, but at the same time hold their shape perfectly. And of course you can also use this part of the recipe in any dish where smoked salmon is required. On bagels with cream cheese and capers? Stirred through a creamy pasta? As part of a lazy sushi bowl?

Silken tofu is the best tofu to use for making scramble. I see a lot of recipes calling for firm tofu, but it’s much too dry. Scramble should be silky soft, wobbly and beautifully buttery. If you are really missing that eggy flavour, get hold of some black salt and sprinkle over a tiny pinch of that just before piling on the smoked carrots. It’s sublime!

As always, let us know in the comments or over on our friendly Facebook page if you make this dish. We love to see what you’ve been cooking! Liz x

Smoked Carrot Ingredients

Method

Scrub the carrots then use a peeler to cut as many long strips as you can out of them. You’ll be left with thick middle bits – just eat those with hummus or chop them up and stick them in a soup or a stew.

Then put all the ingredients in a small baking dish and toss the carrots strips well so that they are all evenly coated in the marinade.

Cover the dish with foil or a baking sheet and put it in a preheated oven at 200C for 15-20 minutes or until the carrot strips are soft, but not too soft… Take the dish out every 5-10 minutes and stir to ensure the pieces of carrots on the sides of the dish are not getting over cooked.

Then put the steam-baked carrots and all the juices into a small box or covered bowl in the fridge overnight or for at least a couple of hours to marinade further.

Serve piled up on buttery toast with scrambled tofu and sprigs of dill.

Scrambled Tofu

Making a wobbly, delicious scramble is easy with silken tofu. Simply heat up a knob of butter in a pan until it melts, add the contents of a pack of silken tofu (I really like the Clearspring Organic one), season it with salt, pepper and a pinch of ground turmeric and heat up. Stir gently to break up the tofu into little curds as you heat. Then serve it on buttery toast and add an optional sprinkle of eggy black salt.

Festive Falafel

An image from my cookbook, Cook Draw Feed (available to add to your cart here)

A classic vegan stalwart, the falafel, but this time with a festive twist. It’s perfect for Christmas sandwiches with some hummus, ruby red sauerkraut and peppery green leaves, or as part of a festive buffet. Middle Eastern food lends itself very well to festive flavours with its liberal use of sweet and warming spices. Or maybe it’s because baby Jesus hailed from that part of the world? Well, whatever the reason, I find myself craving lots of tangines, tabbouleh, hummus, harissa, falafels, baklava, pomegranates etc this time of year.

My festive falafel would make a nice little Christmas starter served on some leaves with a dip (a smokey baba ganoush or a spicy harissa perhaps), a sprinkle (some crunchy hazelnut dukka or a zingy z’atar) and some juicy red pomegranate seeds.

My kids also love a falafel as a burger. Just make them into burger sized patties and serve them in a bun with whatever toppings you like and with a side of potato wedges. Here I’ve served it as a lovely lunch with toasted pitta breads, salad, babaganoush, z’atar and sauerkraut.

Enjoy! Liz x

Ingredients (makes around 15 – 20 falafels)

Method

Pulse all the ingredients except the gram flour and sunflower oil together in a food processor until combined into a rough paste then taste for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper or spices if needed.

Stir through enough gram flour to make a manageable dough. Be careful not to make the dough too dry though.

Then heat up a heavy bottomed frying pan with a generous slick of sunflower oil.

Form the dough into little balls – I find the easiest way to do this is to use two dessert spoons – and drop them into the pan of hot oil.

Turn the heat down to medium-high and once the falafels are cooked on the bottom, flip them over with a spatular and squish them down into little discs. Cook them on the other side until golden brown. You may wish to flip them once more to cook the first side a little longer.

Repeat until all the dough is used up and keep the falafels warm. Then serve with salad, dips and breads to your liking.

Baba Ganoush

I often have an aubergine in my weekly large veg box from the farm so I made a baba ganoush this time. It’s very easy. Simply roast the aubergine in a very hot oven until it’s beautifully charred, smokey and silky soft all the way through. Then once it’s cool enough to handle, remove the skin and pop the flesh in a food processor with a small clove of garlic, a tbsp of tahini, a tbsp or two of lemon juice, a big pinch of salt, a small pinch each of smoked paprika and ground cumin and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Then blend until smooth, taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

Z’atar

Z’atar is a stunning Middle Eastern sprinkle, so perfect with falafel and dips. I make my own very simply with an even blend of toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme and sumac. The combination of toasty sesame seeds, herby thyme and zingy sumac is so delicious. It’s well worth hunting down some sumac and making some yourself.

Did you make this recipe? Let us know how it went in the comments. Don’t forget to share the recipe with your friends and tag us if you take a photo of your creations on Instagram or in our Healthy Eating facebook page. We love to see our recipes leave the screen.

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