Supermarkets manage to make most fruits and vegetables available all year round but it is good to try and eat seasonal, locally sourced foods that haven't travelled half way around the world.
UK grown root vegetables and the delicious little sweetheart cabbages are plentiful and you may even have a few leeks, parsnips and spinach leaves lurking in the vegetable garden as well as newly emerging herbs such as chives and mint to enjoy. E.L.
SMOKY VEGETABLE GARDEN SOUP (Serves 4)
This soup is almost a meal in itself. It is healthy and full of fibre and protein. For a vegetarian version, just leave out the chorizo sausage - it will still have plenty of flavour. Try and get some smoked paprika as it gives this soup a really distinctive taste but you can use ordinary sweet paprika instead.
2 tblsps olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 leek, cleaned and sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
100g / 4oz chorizo sausage, cut into chunks
pinch chilli flakes
2 tsps smoked or sweet paprika
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
3 tblsps dried puy lentils
1½ litres / 2½ pints vegetable stock
salt and pepper
juice of ½ - 1 lemon, to taste
half a sweetheart cabbage, sliced
a few handfuls of washed spinach leaves, optional
Heat the oil and gently fry the onion, leek, carrots, parsnip, garlic and sausage (if using). After a few minutes add the paprika, tomatoes, stock, lentils and seasoning. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for about 20 - 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. A few minutes before serving, stir in the cabbage and spinach (if using) and cook until the cabbage is soft and the spinach wilted. Squeeze in the lemon juice and check seasoning. Serve in large bowls with crusty bread or Cheese and Chive scones.
SALMON AND CHIVE RILLETTES (Serves 4)
50g / 2oz butter, softened
160g packet hot-smoked salmon*, flaked
zest and juice of ½ large lemon
2 tblsps greek yogurt or crème fraiche
salt and black pepper
2 tblsps chopped fresh chives
Make sure that the butter is very soft but not melted. In a bowl, mix together the butter, salmon flakes, lemon zest and half the juice, the yogurt and chives. Season with salt and pepper and spoon into a suitable serving bowl or ramekin dishes. Chill before serving with toast or bread.
* hot-smoked salmon is very convenient as it is used straight from the packet; however you could use left over poached salmon.
CHEDDAR CHEESE AND CHIVE SCONES (Makes 8)
175g / 6oz self raising flour
½ tsp mustard powder
½ tsp salt
¼ - ½ tsp ground cayenne or black pepper
75g / 3 oz strong Cheddar cheese, grated
2 tblsp snipped chives
3 tblsp milk
2 tblsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200°C / Gas 6. Grease and flour a baking tray. Place the flour, mustard powder, salt, pepper, cheese and chives in a bowl and stir to mix. In a small bowl beat the egg with the milk and whisk in the olive oil. Using a fork, quickly mix the egg mixture into flour and cheese mixture until it is combined and forms a soft dough. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and gently pat out to a thickness of 2.5 cm / 1 inch. Using a 5 cm / 2 inch round cutter, cut out 8 scones. You may need to gather together the left over dough and gently squash it together to make all eight scones but do not overwork the dough or the scones will be hard!
Place the scones on the baking tray and bake for 8 - 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm with salted butter.