Squash & Spinach Lasagne

Lasagne is always a good idea for dinner. I always make two while I’m making one, it’s not much extra work and then there’s one in the freezer for a rainy day. This version is an autumn/winter favourite. Layers of roasted squash and garlic, spinach and pumpkin seed pesto, pasta sheets and plant based béchamel. Delicious!

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 6)

Squash Layer:

  • 1 kg squash, cubed
  • 1 bulb of garlic, minus 1 clove
  • 6 sage leaves
  • olive oil, salt and pepper

Spinach & Pumpkin Seed Pesto Layer:

  • 400g spinach, wilted
  • 150g pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 1 clove of garlic, saved from the bulb above
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 10g nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper

Plant Based Béchamel Layer:

  • 150g plain flour
  • 20g nutritional yeast
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 litre oat milk
  • salt and pepper

Other Ingredients:

  • 250g lasagne sheets
  • extra sage leaves to decorate

Method

  1. Turn the oven on to 200C and cut a kg of winter squash (like kuri or butternut) into cubes, tumble them into a large baking tray. Peel a whole bulb of garlic and add the cloves to the dish, but put one aside for the pesto.
  2. Toss the squash and garlic with 6 torn sage leaves and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper then pop the dish in the oven to bake until soft. Meanwhile prepare the pesto and béchamel.
  3. Put the spinach in a colander and pour over hot water to wilt the leaves. Squeeze the water out of the wilted spinach and put the bright, green lump in a food processor. Add the pumpkin seeds, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Blend into a rough sauce, taste and season with salt and pepper. Blend again briefly to bring the pesto together. Then make the béchamel.
  4. In a cold pot, whisk the flour, nutritional yeast, mustard, nutmeg, olive oil and oat milk together. Then put the pot on a medium heat and whisk and cook until the sauce thickens and can coat the back of a spoon. Season well with salt and pepper then put to one side and check on the roasting squash and garlic.
  5. When the squash and garlic is cooked though, mash it roughly, leaving some texture. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed, then it is time to assemble the lasagne.
  6. In a deep baking dish, add a 1/2 cm layer of the squash purée. Add a layer of pasta sheets, then a couple of ladles of the béchamel. Spread two or three heaped tbsp of spinach pesto over the béchamel, don’t worry if it mixes in. Then repeat until you’ve used all the ingredients. Squash, pasta, béchamel, pesto… Ensure you finish up with a thick layer of béchamel.
  7. Decorate the top of the lasagne with some fresh sage leaves then pop it into the oven to bake until bubbling. After about 20-30 minutes, the pasta should be cooked through and the top should be golden. Test with a small sharp knife. Then cut and serve with a side salad or steamed greens.

Creamy Tagliatelle with Leeks, Greens & Peas

This pasta dish has fresh spring/summer vibes. It’s one of our favourites and a great way to use up all the gorgeous greens coming out of the farm at the moment. We stock a large range of organic pastas, I like tagliatelle for this one, but of course any pasta shape will work well.

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4-5)

  • 500g tagliatelle
  • 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 leeks, sliced and rinsed
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (or sub with grated/crumbled cheese of your choice)
  • a splash of white wine
  • oat milk – enough to cook out the flour and make a creamy sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 200g spinach
  • frozen or freshly shelled peas to taste
  • 3 tbsp pesto – optional (I used my kale and pumpkin seed pesto)

Method

  1. Get a large pot of salted water on to boil, then get on with the sauce.
  2. Sauté the leeks and garlic in the butter and oil until soft.
  3. Add the mustard, flour and nutritional yeast and stir the pan.
  4. Then add the white wine and a splash of oat milk. Stir quickly to avoid any bigger lumps.
  5. Keep adding splashes of oat milk and stirring until you have a thick, creamy sauce.
  6. Get the pasta into the boiling water. Tagliatelle only takes about 8 minutes or so.
  7. Then chop the spinach and add to the sauce. Stir and wilt. Then season with salt and plenty of black pepper.
  8. Add the peas to the sauce just before the pasta needs draining.
  9. Then drain the pasta and stir it into the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Stir through some green pesto for extra flavour and serve!

Harvest Begins

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.

Thank you for your continued support!

Kenneth

Tomato & Greens Chickpea Curry

This simple curry is a brilliant way to pack in all those gorgeous seasonal greens we have been harvesting at the farm recently. It works equally well with spinach, chard, kale or even spring green cabbages. It’s a regular feature on our mid-week menu at home. Gotta love a simple meal that can be thrown together from a few affordable ingredients – which is also such a flavour bomb! Tweak the spices to suit your taste.

Serve it with wholesome brown rice to make it a meal. Our bulk bags of rice come in compostable bags, why not add some to your next fruit and veg order?

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4 generously)

  • 1 tbsp vegetable/coconut oil
  • 1 diced white onion
  • 4 cloves of diced garlic
  • 3 tbsp curry powder (or use a mix of your favourite curry spices)
  • 1 thumb of fresh ginger, grated
  • red chillies to taste, chopped
  • 2 tins of chopped tomato
  • 2 tins of chickpeas
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 200g or more of spinach/chard/spring greens
  • cooked rice, lime wedges and fresh coriander to serve.

Method

  1. In a large pan/pot, sauté the diced onion and garlic in the oil over a medium/high heat for about 10 minutes – or until they start to caramelise, soften and turn golden brown.
  2. Add the fresh ginger, curry spices and chilli and stir to quickly toast them before adding any liquid.
  3. Add the two tins of tomatoes and the drained chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper and simmer together until rich and delicious.
  4. About 5-10 minutes before serving, rinse and chop the greens then fold them into the curry. Once they are sufficiently wilted, serve in bowls with rice and lime and coriander to lift and brighten the curry.

Ultimate Green Smoothie

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.

Liz x

Ingredients

  • 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
watch the easy method here or read on below

Method

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.

Why Organic?

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.

Kenneth

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?