It can be tricky to get used to cooking with only seasonal food, especially as most of us have grown up expecting to be able to eat whatever we want, whenever we want it. That first winter without a fresh tomato can feel pretty long! But once you appreciate how much better fruit and vegies taste when they're fresh and in season, you'll be hard pressed to go back. It really is worth the effort, not to mention enormously satisfying knowing you are making a difference to the sustainability of our local food systems.
I already prepare a weekly meal plan for my family and I've offered to adapt it a little and share it here for the Local Organics community. I'm hoping you might join me in this task to create a food community around the delicious fresh produce that Marcus and Angie bring into our lives. My ideas are limited to my own experience (and what Google finds for me!) so I'd really love to get your input too, and include your recipes in the weekly meal plans.
With so many different dietary preferences and requirements, it's impossible to create a 'one size fits all' meal plan. By sharing six simple meals each week, I'm hoping at least some of the ideas will work for you and your family.
What's in the box?
Pumpkin and Vegie Pasta
Steam broccoli and beans, drizzle chunks of pumpkin and red onion with oil and roast for 20 minutes. Toss with pasta or noodles and add fresh tomatoes, olives, herbs and grated pecorino. If you like, you can add a fillet of fish to the oven with the pumpkin and slice to add to the dish. Tinned fish would do just as well (but no need to bake!)
Silverbeet & Kale Frittata
Remove stalks from kale and silverbeet and shred leaves or pulse in a food processor. Wilt them quickly in a frying pan with a tiny bit of oil until they go limp. Mix the wilted silverbeet with 8 eggs and a handful of grated cheese. Pour into an oiled skillet and cook on a low heat. When it's almost done pop it under a grill to seal the top. You can include the silverbeet stalks but sautee them for a few minutes first. This recipe also works with steamed, sliced potato thrown in with the eggs and greens. (adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s Cooks Companion)
Roasted Endive & Tomato with Basil Dressing
Remove some of the thick base of the endive and slice lengthwise from root to tip. Toss in olive oil, salt & pepper and place on a tray in the oven with chunks of tomato for 30–50 minutes. Whizz garlic, olive oil and basil in a food processor to make a dressing. Serve with grilled fish, chicken or steamed greens. (Recipe on Taste.com)
(UPDATE: For some reason I was expecting Belgian Endive (AKA Witlof) in the box, but as you may have noticed, we actually have Curly Endive (AKA Chicory) not so good for roasting. Instead you can boil Curly Endive for a few minutes to remove the bitterness, then sautee it with oil & garlic or toss with olive oil & herbs and serve with a poached egg. If you don't mind the bitter taste you can use Curly Endive in salads in place of lettuce.)
Grilled Chicken, Capsicum & Eggplant
Marinate strips of chicken in soy sauce, toss slices of capsicum and eggplant in oil and season with salt & pepper. Grill chicken and vegies on the BBQ and serve on rice or couscous with a salad of tomato, sweetcorn and cucumber, dressed with olive & oil and dash of vinegar.
Beet & Feta Risotto
Roast beetroots with skin on (30-40 mins) then cut into cubes. Boil half the diced beetroot in a litre or two of vegie stock and strain to make a beetroot-ish stock (keep stock - discard beetroot!). Cook garlic and onion with ghee then stir the rice through. Add a splosh of white wine and gradually stir in the beetroot stock until fully absorbed. Toss the remaining cubed beetroot and feta through the rice. Goats cheese would be a nice alternative to feta and walnuts would complement this dish too. (a similar recipe on allrecipes.co.uk uses pureed beetroot instead)
Vegie Shepherd’s Pie (leftovers pie!)
Chop, dice or process mixed vegies including onion, carrots, celery, beans, capsicum, corn kernels and anything else languishing in the fridge. Heat ghee in a frypan and gently heat, adding your choice of herbs. You can add minced kangaroo meat, lamb or beef at this stage - just brown the meat and then add everything else. Add a cup of dried red lentils, wine, 1 - 2 litres of stock and chopped (or tinned) tomatoes then simmer for 30 minutes. Top with mashed potatoes, grated cheese and fresh herbs, then pop in the oven for another 30 minutes. (Note: if you use tinned lentils just add them a little later, with 15 minutes to go)
This is a resource we can all contribute to. If you have any favourite recipes or tips that will help people use the produce in this week's box, please post them in the comments below. Anything goes - there's absolutely no need for fancy recipes. We're all just after simple, no fuss cooking that maximises fresh ingredients - and tastes great!