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I could live off meals like this at the moment: tasty, simple and stuffed full of vegetables.  This was a leftovers meal, the pan-fried summer vegetables I’d made the day before, cooking sliced onion, peppers, and courgettes in olive oil before adding a couple of chopped plum tomatoes from a tin (not the juice). 

The potatoes had also been boiled up the day previously, and these I crisped up in the frying pan – something my mom used to do a lot when I was growing up.  All popped on a plate with a dressed salad (a creamy quince and cider dressing bought from Bath Farmer’s Market) and a big dollop of herby cream cheese.

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I am behind on sharing the good meals that we’ve been eating this week – mainly thanks to an inspiration visit to Bath Farmer’s Market last weekend.

This type of meal – nibbly bits, antipasto, food to share – is one of my favourites.  It always starts off feeling like a bit boring, eating up leftovers, making something out of odd bits in the fridge, but then it usually turns out wonderful.

We had melting delicious Coppa, Homewood Old Demdike ewe’s cheese and a candy stripe beetroot salad all from Bath Farmer’s Market.  The beetroot I sliced thinly, spread on a plate and lightly drizzled with olive oil, a spritz of lemon juice and some black pepper.

There was tiny slithers of garlic salami from Abbey Leys Farmer’s Market, and a tomato salad with quick-pickled shallot, black olives and capers.  You can quickly take the tang out of raw onions in a salad, by chopping them finely and soaking them in vinegar for 10-15 minutes before you need to use them.

Accompanied by the flowerpot loaf from Bath Farmer’s Market and some good quality salty butter, it was a quick but tasty dinner.  Not at all boring.

So my afternoon at the local food event was good.  It’s always lovely to meet other people who are running similar projects, be inspired by others and generally network.  I would prefer more ‘doing’ at these events and less listening – I come home feeling inspired by what I’ve heard, but I would have liked to do more group problem-solving.

The lunch I must tell you, was really miserable.  Perhaps my work running community events and conferences makes me hyper-critical, but I would have thought that an event on local food should have a vibrant, seasonal lunch of local produce.  The only obvious local produce was the apple juice (from Eddisbury Fruit Farm), but otherwise it was miserable beige food (read: soggy garlic bread with cold melted cheese) and a few token carrot sticks.

But enough of that, tonight I made up a delicious pesto using some slightly-too-old peas and a bag of sugar snap peas that were in desperate need of being eaten.  I was also in real need of green, vibrant vegetables for tea. 

Homemade pea and sugar snap pesto

So I quickly cooked the sugar snap peas and ordinary peas (that I’d podded first – possibly one of my favourite jobs ever) in boiling water.  I allowed the sugar snap peas a few minutes longer, but really only let them turn a bright green before draining them and cooling quickly in iced water.

I popped them into my handy small blender, along with some walnut oil (thought I’d try something different), sliced mint from the garden, grated Parmesan, salt and pepper.  I whizzed it all up, added some more oil to loosen it, adjusted the seasonings to taste and hey pesto (sorry…it was too irresistable!) my pea pesto was finished!

After cooking the pasta, I added the pesto along with a splash of the pasta water and mixed it in.  For an extra dash of colour, and in the spirit of using as much of my edible garden as possible, I added a few lilac mint flowers to finish it off. 

This is not a powerful, punchy pesto like the basil version.  It is subtle, with the sweetness of pea, the earthy nuttiness of the oil, and the savoury-salty flavour of Parmesan.  Lovely, seasonal, and a great way to use up forgotten vegetables.

What do we cook for dinner when we don’t have much in the cupboards?  A frittata.

frittata

We always seem to have eggs in our house, and like most people by the end of the week there are always an assortment of leftovers.  Making a frittata is our failsafe recipe for cooking a wholesome and quick meal that uses everything up.

Really, this isn’t a recipe, because you can use any ingredients or leftovers that you like.  It’s really a short set of instructions on how to make a basic frittata and some pointers on when to add certain ingredients to the pan.

frittata4

Frying pan: To make a frittata you need a frying pan, one that can be put in the oven is even better, but if not this isn’t the end of the world!  I use a medium-sized heavy cast iron frying pan with a metal handle – I have discovered that this is the perfect size for us, it makes just the right amount of frittata for the two of us.  If you don’t have an oven-proof frying pan, pop your frittata under the grill rather than in the over to cook it.

frittata2

Eggs:  Next, you need eggs – beaten and seasoned with salt and pepper.  For two of us, in my medium-sized frying pan I use about four eggs.  You need enough beaten eggs to cover the other ingredients in your pan, so start with a good guess of how many you need – you can always beat up another if you need a bit more.

crackedeggs

My key frittata ingredients would be potato, onion and cheese. 

Potatoes: We often have a few leftover boiled potatoes, and these are perfect in a frittata.  If you don’t have leftover potatoes, just boil up a couple of new potatoes and use those instead.  Simply slice the potatoes into thick-ish chunks, and they are ready to be added. 

frittata5

Onions: Onions are a staple in most people’s cupboards, cooked slowly in your frying pan in a little oil and maybe a knob of butter until they are softened they will add a lovely sweetness to your frittata.  You can cut them up in anyway you wish – roughly chopped, thinly sliced, diced – just as long as they are cooked until soft you can’t go wrong.

Cheese:Adding cheese just before you bung your frittata into a hot oven gives it that added luxury.  Now you can use any kind of cheese you fancy or have available in your fridge – make sure it doesn’t clash with any of your other chosen ingredients.  It could be grated, diced, sliced or crumbled.  Tasty options include mozzarella, cheddar, feta, goat’s cheese, or gorgonzola.

goatscheese

Other ingredients: You could add – olives…roasted red peppers…shredded spinach…diced ham…artichoke hearts…shreds of cooked chicken…sweet roasted carrots…smoked salmon…broccoli florets…salami…flaked fish…garden herbs…

frittata3

Key steps for making a frittata:

1. Heat oil and/or butter in a frying pan and add the onion – cook until soft.

2. Add any other ingredients – add those things first that will take longer to cook.

3. Once your ingredients are cooked, add your sliced potatoes.

4. Pour over your beaten egg.

5. Sprinkle over your cheese and bung in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until cooked.

6. Leave to cool a little for about 5 minutes before eating.

It’s been over two weeks since I’ve posted anything – which is terrible, and the opposite of what a blog should be.  I have been flat-out at work organising a big conference which starts in just over a week.  Co-ordinating 90 delegates and a further 40-50 contributors, not to mention the logistics of room allocations, menu choices, and who’s staying where, has quite literally sapped me of all my energy.  Coming home has involved a quick dinner then slumping in front of the TV in a bid to switch off from work.

Christmas seems so far away now.  The aftermath of Christmas dinner has faded…

aftermath of Christmas Day lunch

aftermath of Christmas Day lunch

Granny’s gluten-free mince pies are a distant memory…

homemade gluten-free mince pies

homemade gluten-free mince pies

Little sisters are back at school and studying hard…

my little sister

my little sister

And there’s not a crumb left of the turkey and cranberry Boxing Day bagels…

turkey and cranberry Boxing Day bagels

turkey and cranberry Boxing Day bagels

But, I have seen my first snowdrops and spring is on its way.

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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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