We’re galloping towards spring with a lovely day yesterday and temperatures reaching 17c at Nethergong. Good news for the veg that laid dormant during the cold snap. Good news also for Jed who has been waiting for balmier temperatures to get some important work done on the site. This week we’ve been spreading woodchip on the muddiest paths, moving the bowtop wagon to its permanent quarters and generally tidying up the land. I’ve seen the first pussy willow on our numerous willow trees and the crocus’ in our garden have magically appeared. We’ve also see the barn owl regularly hunting, either for a mate or for prey. He/she is also using the nesting box so we are hopeful of owlets again this year. We’ve seen evidence of pesky mink around the duck pond with fish scales on the bank. Not such good news.
Its only February still and March often has a bite so I’m not planting in the polytunnel yet, although our hall has started to resemble a garden centre with many propagators.
In your boxes…………………..
The milder weather has finally produced Purple Sprouting Broccoli in large quantities for us. Its such a treat at this time of the year and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Steve Parsley at Walmestone has come up trumps again with Oriental Salad Leaves to lighten the boxes and add to your packed lunches.
Beetroot and cauliflower provide staples for you to roast, steam or use in salads. Its great to be able to offer you variety at this time of year and our farmers never let us down.
Recipe 1: PSB, Feta and Shallot Tart – serves 4
300g peeled banana shallots, quartered
A glug of olive oil 300g purple sprouting broccoli
2 rosemary sprigs 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
320g shortcrust pastry sheet (square or round)
60g feta Milk for the pastry
Salad leaves to serve
Heat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6 and put a baking sheet inside. Heat the glug of olive oil in a large frying pan, add the broccoli and the shallots, then fry gently. Increase the heat and add the balsamic vinegar. Bubble, stirring occasionally, until sticky. Tip into a roasting tray with the rosemary, then roast for 20 minutes until the veg is soft and crisp.
Meanwhile, unroll a 320g shortcrust pastry sheet leaving it on its paper. When the veg is cooked, pile it into the centre of the pastry, leaving a 3cm border. Crumble over the feta. Fold the excess pastry around the filling to form a rough tart. Brush the pastry edges with milk, slide the tart, still on its paper, onto the hot baking sheet, then bake for 20 minutes until the pastry is golden and crumbly. Serve with salad leaves
Recipe 2: PSB and Sausage Penne – serves 4
This is very tasty!
400g purple sprouting broccoli
Knob of unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 red onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
8 good-quality sausages
1½ tsp chilli flakes
Grated zest of 1 lemon
400g penne or other small pasta
100ml double cream
Blanch the broccoli in a pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain, refresh under cold running water and set aside.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and gently fry for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a few more minutes. Split the skins of the sausages, roughly break up the meat and add to the pan (discard the skins). Add the chilli and lemon zest, season well and fry over a medium-high heat for 10 minutes until the sausages have lots of crispy bits.
Meanwhile, cook the penne in a pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 tbsp of the water. Return the pasta to the pan, along with a little oil and the cooking water.
Add the cream and broccoli to the sausages and warm through for 3-4 minutes. Serve the sauce on the pasta, with grated Parmesan to sprinkle over, if you like