Courtesy of my new organic veg box delivery company, Riverford. I decided to give them a try after Helena recommended them to me. I will still use Abel & Cole for other items, such as meat and fish (they do have a key to my building, afterall) but I have to admit that Riverford is much better value for money. I also like knowing that by shopping with them that I'm helping to support a local, small business for Riverford's box scheme is a franchise. I know, you hear the word "franchise" and automatically your hands go up in the sign of the Cross, but that's not the case here. It's a way of equally distributing profits and encouraging small start-ups and I know now from firsthand experience that not everything about franchises is evil. Ok, MOST things are evil (like how they all have to buy from the same vendors even if it means shipping in frozen chicken from Brazil) but that actually works in Riverford's favour since you want most of your goodies to come from their 750 acre organic farm in Devon.
I had my first delivery on Thursday which consisted of a small veg box for £9 and a fruit bag for £4.30, with some additionals thrown in. The veg box brought me beetroot (beets), carrots, new potatoes, courgettes (zucchini), onions, leeks, rocket (arugula) and mushrooms, all picked and bagged that morning and righteously covered in dirt. The fruit bag contained apples, pears and grapes. Quite good value, I'd say.
One thing I like about having a veg box is that it pushes me to use every single veggie. I'm turning into my gran in that respect, I simply can't bear to chuck things into the bin. Another perk is that it forces me to use veggies that I would either never think to or just really couldn't be arsed messing with, like fresh beetroot. I'm all for avoiding pre-cut/prepared veggies; it only adds expense and excess packaging. With beetroot tho, I never saw the point in making it from scratch as it's SO incredibly messy, not to mention that it involves an additional 45 minutes to your prep time. I just love the luscious deep purple of it and the beautiful shocking pink that it leaves in its wake. Underneath my fingernails the crescents are still this shade of pink even tho I scrubbed them into oblivion.
Last night I invited a friend round to dinner, and since I have no end of time to invest into prep time these days, I decided to give it a go. I scoured my back issues of Everyday Food and checked both Riverford and Abel & Cole for their beetroot recipes. I contemplated doing soup but since I knew I was already doing a salad I looked for a way to add these fresh, roasted beets to the salad. I'm so glad that I did - Roasted beets and pear with parmesan and pine nuts over arugula and beet greens. Beets are commonly paired with goat's cheese or feta but since I was using my fabulous Welsh goat's cheese for the main dish, I decided to go with Grana Padano instead.
- beets, 4-5
- pear, 1
- pine nuts, 3T
- arugula/rocket, 400g - i also used some of the leaves from the beets as i didn't have enough rocket
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- red wine vinegar
- lemon, 1 with half zested
- parmesan, to shave
- roast your trimmed beets in foil in a roasting tin with a bit of olive oil, s&p and water in an oven preheated to 220C/425F. when finished, allow to cool and then slip off the skins.
- wash greens thoroughly and dry (using your snazzy new salad spinner you got for an £8 bargain off of Ebay).
- toast pine nuts and remove from heat to cool.
- mix vinaigrette; 2 parts EVOO, 1 part lemon juice, 1 part red wine vinegar; s&p to taste with lemon zest and a dash of cayenne. dress greens and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, Maldon if you have it.
- dress sliced beets and add to salad.
- add slices of pear, toasted pine nuts and shave over parmesan.
- pasta, 400g - use tubular, short if you can. (I opted for fusilli since I had some on hand and I'm trying to be more flexible in my cooking ie not having 6 different kinds of pasta on hand at once.)
- sun-dried tomatoes, sliced, 1c - not the ones in oil
- slivered almonds/pinenuts, 1/4c
- goat's cheese, 6 oz
- chili, 1 or 1t dried chili flakes
- garlic, 3 cloves minced
- leek, 1, halved and sliced
- fresh parsley, 1/2 c chopped
- olive oil
- saute the garlic, chili and leek in the olive oil for 5 min. put aside.
- toast pinenuts/almonds. put aside.
- salt and cook pasta to 3 minutes short of instructions. add sun dried tomatoes to the water and cook for the further 3 minutes.
- drain; keep 1c of tomato-ey cooking water and add back to pasta.
- add garlic/chili/leek mixture.
- flake 1/2 of your goat's cheese with a fork into pasta and add parsley. stir.
- plate up the pasta and flake the rest of the goat's cheese over the dishes.
This recipe really is so versatile. You could use feta instead of goat's cheese and any number of veggies instead of the tomatoes. You could use shallots or red onion instead of the leek. You could always add a bit more EVOO to taste as well. Recipes are truly just a guideline most of the time. Make sure you serve with lots of crusty, buttery, garlic bread.
And now I'm off to the Fiery Foods festival, courtesy of the Brighton Food Festival. Lots of pics to come!