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meat-free month

Yesterday saw the start of our meat-free month.  I must say it hasn’t felt too momentous a change yet, because on average we eat a few meat-free dishes a week and most meals only have a small amount of meat in them.  But I’m sure it will feel more of a challenge as the weeks go on, like tonight I couldn’t help but think that crispy bacon or pancetta would have been a nice addition – aah!

So here’s the start of our meat-free diary…

Monday 9th January

Winter veg stir-fry.  Egg noodles, carrots, parsnips, mushrooms, and shredded sprouts, all bound together with a delicious sauce of soy sauce, mirin and Chinese five spice.

winter veg stir fry

From River Cottage Everyday Veg

Tuesday 10th January

Cavolo nero pesto pasta.  A homemade pesto made from boiled cavolo nero and garlic, drained and blitzed up, with olive oil, salt, pepper and Parmesan.  Stirred through hot spaghetti and sprinkled with a tiny bit of grated cheese.

cavolo nero pesto

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If ever there was a winter dish this was it.  I’m pretty sure it must be quite healthy, all those lentils and greens, plus a good dose of garlic.  Anyway…what matters was it tasted fantastic. 

This is one of those meals where the quality of the ingredients really makes the difference.  I used Puy Lentils, organic cavolo nero, and incredible coiled Italian sausages (that I picked up here).

The sausages
These incredible Italian sausages were simply popped under a hot grilled for about 5-6 minutes on each side until they were golden.  I even drained the little amount of amber coloured fat that pooled in the coils into the lentils – waste not want not!

The lentils
The lentils (about 200g for 2) were covered with water, with a bunch of tied parsley stalks, a peeled garlic clove and a bay leaf.  Simmered for about 15-20 minutes until soft, then drained.  I mixed in a splash of sherry vinegar to taste, seasoned well with salt and pepper, and stirred through chopped parsley.  Finally mash the garlic clove and stir in.

The cavolo nero
I’m not a huge cabbage and kale lover, but cavolo nero I have a bit of thing for.  First I chopped it up, popped it into a large pan of salted boiling water and let it cook for 3 minutes before draining.  Cool it immediately with cold water, then squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can.  When you’re ready to eat, gently fry some sliced garlic in oil then add the cavolo nero and stir to warm through.

This past weekend we went to Bath for a weekend away with friends.  On Saturday morning whilst I was waiting for Mr Rigg to arrive by train, I ventured in to the Bath Farmer’s Market – and what treats awaited me!

Incredible veggies – like these pink stripey beetroot and mixed carrots.  I bought a bunch of each.

Wonderful cured meats and sausages – bottom right is pancetta and Coppa, both of which found their way into my shopping bag, along with some Italian pinwheel sausages (back top left). 

Mushrooms of all kinds – I bought a box of those teeny tiny ‘Paris Browns’.

Cheeses of all kinds, including the award winning Bath Soft Cheese – somewhere between a Brie and a Camembert.

This is the lovely oil man, selling rapeseed oil made from his farm’s crops, and also making a selection of delicious dressings.  I usually make all my own salad dressings, but I couldn’t resist a bottle of his creamy Quince and Cider dressing.

The quince lady…well that’s not her real name (a bit more on her soon) selling a selection of beautiful homemade quince products.  Syrups, jellies, sweets and quince paste.

The choice of vegetables available at the farmer’s markets is outstanding.  All farmers markets around the country should have this kind of choice.  Everyone around the country should have access to vegetables like these.  Dark bunches of cavolo nero and pumpkins of all sizes and colours.

The aforementioned flowerpot bread – cheese and herb I think, baked in a terracotta flowerpot to give it that unusual shape.  Also deliciously tasty!

If you ever thought winter vegetables could be boring, here’s a picture to change your mind – amber pumpkins, pinky-purple onions, muddy carrots, fat beetroot, stalks of sprouts, bundles of spinach, dark curly kale, crisp stalks of celery, fresh broccoli, and the wrinkly savoy cabbage or those tinged violet.

And this stall selling their own cheeses, and various cheese products and accompaniments – chutney, cheesecake, soft cheese, and curd tarts.  I bought some of their ewes cheese which was incredibly delicious.

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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