greens

garden decides

Cashew & Spelt Gnocchi

We had a massive clean out in the garden this weekend, kind of an everything-must-go clearance of spent broccoli, earwig-eaten kale and woody fennel. And just in time to grab the last of the nettles too. The season turned really quickly this year – it seemed to take forever to get here, but the transition was complete in 2 days, according to the wilted and browned state of the veggies. So we did what we do every year, and pulled everything out ready for the next season’s efforts. I’ll admit to getting a bit sentimental over this process at times, I always feel bad pulling anything out that may still have a skerrick of green about it, but all it takes to quash that and buck up, is to think about the many pioneering hands that have worked the very same soil on our hill in the 100 or more years there’s been a veggie garden here. Our little patch is a good place for big thoughts.

Had to laugh at myself though, when I interrupted my subconscious mulling over the idea of changing my Instagram name. All romantic notions of connecting with my pioneering forebears ran off right about then. Thing is, the idea of an Instagram name wouldn’t have even been on my radar 5 years ago. Maybe 6. Does it ever make your brain hurt at where things might be at for all of us in another, oh, 5 years? Anyway, I did change it. My Instagram name, that is. Figured I write it in the wet cement of our renovations so it would be there in another 100 years. It’s bound to have historical significance. Having sorted that pivotal point out, I also made plans for dinner. To be honest, the garden decided that one without me. Here’s what the days gardening efforts became…

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Cashew & Spelt Gnocchi 

Serves 2

I make good use of the cashew cheese I make each week for the Scullery’s Saturday pop-up, so this recipe is exactly what I’ve been promising our cashew cheese customers, for maybe 6 months now. Eeep. Or you can always follow the recipe for cashew cheese here if you’re not able to call in to the Scullery this Saturday!

I make my own egg replacer for things like gnocchi too, but you can just as easily use 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed mixed with 6 tablespoons of water.

If you’d like to make the egg replacer, it’s great for when you want a lighter finish, with things like biscuits and cakes. This will make a batch that you can store to use beyond this recipe. To make it, mix together 1 1/4 cup arrowroot powder, 1/4 cup baking powder and 1/2 tablespoon xanthan gum. Store it in a glass jar for up to 6 months.

For the gnocchi:

1 cup cashew cheese

1 1/2 cups organic spelt flour

1 tsp Himalayan salt

3 tsp egg replacer mixed in 6 tbsp water

Mix cheese and egg replacer liquid mixture in a medium sized bowl and add flour and salt, stirring together until you have a dough consistency. You should be able to handle it without it sticking to your hands. If it’s still sticky, add a little more flour, bit by bit.

Roll into sausages about 1 cm thick on a floured board and cut into 1-2 cm pieces with a sharp knife. On a floured board, make sure to keep them from touching, while you’re preparing the remaining gnocchi, you don’t want them to stick.

When you’re ready to cook the gnocchi, bring a large pan of water to the boil and gently drop the gnocchi in. Wait until they float to the top and then scoop them out with a slotted spoon. Serve with pesto immediately.

For the nettle pesto:

A generous handful of each of the following herbs –

organic nettles

organic fennel fronds

organic mint

organic sage

organic oregano

1 clove garlic

extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp capers in salt (don’t rinse)

Blitz together in a food processor until you have the consistency you prefer, adding the olive oil as you go.

To serve the gnocchi, drizzle generous spoonfuls of pesto across the hot gnocchi, top with extra rocket flowers, fresh herbs or whatever takes your fancy. These little guys are filling, so don’t be put off by what seems like a small amount!

 

time for the good stuff

Green House Salad

Life’s been a tad nuts out here on the hill over the last month. Well actually not much of it has been on the hill if I think about it because we haven’t been here much. All good stuff but just lots of it. At once. And then we decided to adopt a piglet. You know it goes. So it was really great to get back into the garden and literally ground things a bit after so much running around.

We had a whole afternoon following the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, just to spend any way we wished. Given the preciousness of such a notion it was an easy choice to pull on my old jeans and walk into the greenhouse without any plan but to hang out and see what needed attention first. I love days like that. Sidetracked from one thing to another in a circle of planting red kale seeds, drinking tea, making gravel paths, shovelling cow pats, patting cows, playing with pigs and picking roses for our bedroom.

Lunch was part of things too. Of course. And the greenhouse has become more like a private supermarket now, so sitting at my little potting up table became a chance to put a salad together in my head from what I could see. It might not be the world’s most incredible creation as just a salad, but somehow adding that elusive quality of just picked and hand tended made this salad seem way fancier than it might have seemed to anyone just passing by our kitchen table. Good stuff.

 

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Green House Salad

serves 4

 

1 large handful organic purple beans

1 large handful organic snowpeas

1 small handful organic pea tendrils

1 organic lebanese cucumber

8-10 fresh organic borage flowers

1 organic white witlof

1 cup organic raw walnuts

2 tbsp organic honey

1 tsp Himalayan salt

2 tbsp organic Dijon mustard

4 tbsp lemon juice

1/3 cup lemon extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp honey

salt and pepper to taste

 

For the honey salted walnuts, massage the honey into the walnuts and sprinkle with salt. Spread onto a baking paper lined tray and toast under the grill until caramelised, about 4-5 minutes. Cool.

Blanch the snowpeas in boiling water for no more than 1 minute and then plunge them into an ice bath to immediately cool them. Top and tail the purple beans but leave these raw to preserve their beautiful purple colour.

Cut rounds of cucumber and separate the leaves of the witlof.

Toss together with the pea tendrils.

To make the vinaigrette, mix the mustard, lemon juice, olive oil and honey together and season to taste.

Put all the salad ingredients into a pretty bowl and gently mix through the vinaigrette. Top with the borage flowers and cooled walnuts and serve.

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favourite colour. edible green.

Lettuce, Tarragon & Chervil Soup

This time of year – when Summer is still holding hands with Autumn – is so, so lovely. The sun becomes golden rather than blazing and every night is a good night for sleeping. We had the most drenching rain here last week and today I noticed there was green peach fuzz all over the hills where the harshness of late Summer stood only a couple of days ago. It’s amazing how reassuring that first tinge of green can be, because I have to honest, in the midst of Summer’s heat there are times I can’t imagine anything growing, ever again, in the endless red dirt. But today, green.

 

I did the same thing the weather is doing but in a bowl over the weekend. That ‘neither hot enough for cold soup, nor cold enough for hot soup’ kind of thing. But definitely soup. The eternal diplomat. And finding the most beautifully fresh tarragon – really and truly French tarragon – at the Farmer’s Market only encouraged the plan. I’ve been making this lettuce and tarragon soup for what seems like ever. It changes each time I make it. That’s what soup is so good for huh?

 

I added fresh chervil this time and I think I’ll probably run with that as a new and improved future option. It sounds like a liquorice-y mouthful to have tarragon and chervil in the same bowl, and it is, but not too much so. That said, you probably need to really love tarragon and chervil to begin with for this soup to work its magic. I do. And it did. Yay for Autumn.

 

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Lettuce, Tarragon & Chervil Soup

 

1/2 large organic lettuce such as cos or iceberg (I used a mix of what the garden offered)

1 organic red onion

50 ml extra virgin olive oil

1 clove organic purple garlic

25g organic amaranth flour (or any plain unrefined flour)

750ml organic vegetable stock

20g organic tarragon

20g organic chervil

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

 

Roughly chop the lettuce, onion and garlic. 

Heat a heavy based large saucepan, add the olive oil and fry the onion for 3-4 minutes before adding the garlic and flour. Continue to stir for a minute and then gradually add the vegetable stock.

Bring to the boil and add the lettuce, tarragon and chervil. Simmer for about 15 minutes, and then using a hand blender, process until smooth. 

Season to taste and serve topped with fresh tarragon.

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