Use-up Stir-fry

Spring greens are a thing of beauty, however I do understand when you have seen your hundredth one turn up in your veg box, you may not continue to think so.

I got a couple this week in my small fruit and veg box along with more carrots, another veg that often accumulates, spring onions, sugar snap peas and new potatoes. On the fruit front there was apples and raspberries. So to make sure that you do not despair of summer greens, I will be concentrating on them over the next few weeks starting with a fabulous use-up dish this week. This is the sort of recipe which clears out your fridge before your next veg box arrives because there are so many variants of ingredients you can use. And of course you could add some prawns, or chicken, pork or steak if you wanted.

I started with my spring greens, sugar snap peas, carrots and spring onions but I also discovered half a left over red pepper, some mushrooms and a few bunched onions, which all went in. The only staples that you really need are chillies, ginger, garlic and coriander and a lime, Teriyaki sauce and noodles.

There are several varieties of Teriyaki sauce. My kids like Waitrose own best probably because it is particularly sweet but if you want a healthier option Clearspring make an organic one. The sweetness is counteracted with some lime juice and if you want more salt, add a little soy or Nam Pla (Thai Fish Sauce) is also particularly good. On the noodle front, any will do. I used some old Pad Thai noodles which  where hanging around in the cupboard. More important is the ratio of veg to noodle. Your cooked veg quantity should be about equal to that of noodles otherwise it can get a bit heavy going. I have given you a rough recipe below but really it is up to you.

The only other thing which really is of help in use-up stir-fry is a Wok. If you don’t have one, don’t splash out on an expensive one. I got mine about 25 years ago for £10 and it is still going strong.

Stir-fry in bowl

Use-up Stir-fry

Serves 2 very generously

150g Pad Thai noodles (or any will do but vary cooking as instructed)

1 head summer greens

1-2 fresh red chillies

Large knob of ginger

2 cloves garlic, peeled

4 spring onions

2 small bunched onions

4 carrots, peeled

8 mushrooms

100g sugar snap peas

½ a red pepper

Sunflower oil

1 lime

Teriyaki sauce

Sesame oil (optional)

Soy sauce, Nam Pla or salt

Small bunch of coriander

Boil the kettle and pour boiling water all over the noodles so that they are submerged. Leave for 15 minutes. Meanwhile shred your summer greens, wash and drain well. Grate the carrots. Thinly slice the mushrooms and red pepper, removing any seeds. Remove the outer most layer from the spring onions and bunched onions and finely slice. (Don’t forget to use the green of the spring onions too.) Top the sugar snap peas and string if necessary. Finely chop the chilli, removing the seeds. With a teaspoon remove the outer layer of the ginger. Grate the garlic and ginger. Drain the noodles. Heat your wok or large frying pan with a little sunflower oil. Add the garlic, chilli and ginger. Fry for a minutes, stirring well. Add the spring onions, bunched onions, mushrooms, sugar snaps and red peppers. Stir-fry for a minute or two more. Next add the summer greens and carrots. Stir-fry until the veg has wilted. Finally add the teriyaki sauce and noodles and mix really well. Take off the heat and stir in your chopped coriander. Squeeze over the lime and drizzle with Sesame oil if using, Taste. If it needs more salt add soy or salt. Make sure you have the balance of sweet, salty and sour. Serve with a wedge of lime.

Stir Fry in Wok

Vietnamese Lettuce and Beef Wraps

Vietnamesse Wraps closeup

Finally for this week one of my favourite sorts of recipe. It is one of those when you manage to somehow conjure up a delicious dinner from almost nowhere. All I had left in the box was a green Batavia lettuce, some carrots and a cucumber. All I had in the fridge was one fillet steak. We can learn a lot from Asian recipes as they have long understood that meat and fish are costly and they know how to make expensive ingredients go along way. This is of course a healthier way of eating too and the idea that the vegetables should be as important as the accompaniment is very trendy at the moment. Although the list of ingredients often looks long and complicated, it really is store cupboard stuff and it really could not be quicker and easier to make.

Just time for “Kitchen Kit of the Week” – a microplaner is a grater reinvented. The story is, a Canadian housewife decided to use one of her husband’s favourite woodworking tools and discovered that it was the best orange zester she had ever used. There is a whole range available now but I suggest a fine one, for effortlessly grating ginger and lemongrass like you have never seen. Pick one up on Amazon or at Lakeland.

Vietnamese Wraps

Vietnamese Lettuce and Beef Wraps

You can make the dipping sauce and marinade the meat the day before.

For the marinade

1 fillet steak

2 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp fish sauce (Nam Pla)

1 tsp caster sugar

1-1½ tsp toasted sesame oil, to taste

For the dipping sauce

1 tbsp. rice vinegar, to taste

2 tsp. caster sugar, to taste

1 tbsp. Fish sauce (Nam Pla)

1 stick lemongrass

1 lime, juice only

1 fresh red chilli

For the wraps

1 carrot, cut into fine julienne strips or grated

½ cucumber

3 sprigs mint, leaves picked and chopped

½ small bunch coriander, leaves and stalks roughly chopped

1 lettuce such as Batavia or baby gem

Lime wedges, to serve

For the marinade, put the steak into a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix until coated evenly. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least two hours, or overnight if possible.

Meanwhile make the dipping sauce. Mix the rice vinegar, sugar, fish sauce and lime juice together. Finely chop the red chilli. If you like it hot then leave the seeds in, if not remove them. Remove any tough outer leaves from the lemongrass and trim the bottom. Grate using a microplaner starting at the bottom and grating until nearly three quarters of the way up. (If you do not have a microplaner, chop very finely). Add with the chilli to your dipping sauce and taste. Adjust the flavours as necessary – adding a little more sugar if it’s too sour, or more rice vinegar or lime juice if too sweet.

Next peel and grate your carrots and cut your cucumber into julienne. A mandolin is good for this. Separate and wash the salad leaves and leave to drain. Pick the leaves off the herbs.

In a large heavy-based frying pan, heat a dash of oil. Shake off any excess marinade from the steaks and cook for 2-3 minutes on either side – depending on their thickness and how rare you like your steak. Tip over the marinade and remove and rest on a plate for five minutes.

To serve, arrange the lettuce leaves on a serving plate. Fill the lettuce leaves with carrot and cucumber. Add a small handful of herbs. Slice the rested steak, and top each leaf with a slice or two of steak, tipping any resting juices over the top. Serve with the dipping sauce and lime wedges on the side.

Lettuce

Bunch of Carrots

Bunched Carrots are just lovely right now and there is no finer way of cooking them than simply roasting them in the oven. All vegetables benefit from a good roasting – it intensifies their flavour and helps release their natural sugars. There is never any need to add honey, they are sweet enough! Today I decided to turn them into a delicious salad with cumin seeds and dill which always work superbly with carrots.

When it comes to buying lentils, choose carefully. There may be lots of cheaper alternatives to the original and the best “Le Puy Lentils” but nothing holds their shape and texture the same or is so forgiving if you should accidently overcook them a minute or two. If you are feeling really lazy, Merchant and Gourmet do a ready cooked pouch.

Halloumi could be described as a lump of salty rubber but it is strangely addictive. People tend to cook it in slabs, which can be a bit overpowering but in this recipe I decided to cut it up into quite small cubes in an attempt to add a little salt and texture to each and every mouthful.

Into this salad, I also tossed in the Flat Beans from my box. I have never seen these particular beans available anywhere but Riverford. They look a bit like a Runner Bean but are much tender and less stringy, more like a French Bean, but flat!

Roasted Carrot, Flat Bean & Halloumi Salad with Cumin Seeds & Dill

Roast Carrots with Flat Beans, Le Puy Lentils, Toasted Halloumi, Cumin Seeds and Dill

1 Bunch of carrots

2 tsp. Cumin seeds

Small bunch of dill (don’t forget Riverford have lots of lovely herbs)

1 Bunch Flat Beans

50g Le Puy lentils

1 packet of halloumi

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt and Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 200⁰C. Wash your carrots and chop off the tops leaving a little green. Leave whole if small or cut in half if larger. Toss in good olive oil, season with plenty of salt and pepper and sprinkle with cumin seeds. Put in the oven for about half an hour until golden brown and tender. Meanwhile put your lentils in a pan of cold water and simmer for about 20 minutes until tender. They should still have a little bite. Drain and tip into a large bowl. Dress with plenty of good olive oil and a pinch or two of salt. Taste to check seasoning and adjust. Finely chop your dill and add that and then tip in the carrots. Put another pan of salted water on to boil. Cut your Flat beans into 1cm slices on the diagonal. Cut the halloumi into 1cm cubes. Heat a dry, non-stick pan and toast the halloumi on all sides until golden brown. Meanwhile add the beans to the pan of boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes until tender. Refresh and drain to keep the colour and texture. Tip the lentils and carrots onto a large plate and scatter with the Flat Beans and the halloumi. Drizzle with a little more good olive oil.

Carrots in a tin

Juice

Salad Box 

With promises of a heatwave coming this week, I opted for a Salad box this week, which contained a bag of mixed salad leaves, some bunched radishes, vine tomatoes, a cucumber, several Ramiro peppers and a head of celery.

I noticed that there was lots of juicing fruit available at the moment at Riverford. It’s funny that everyone gets out there juicers in January with great intentions of fulfilling New Year’s resolutions of eating healthier, getting fitter and losing weight but by the time there is an abundance of seasonal vegetables around, the juicer has long been put away. I decided to get mine out again and it give it another try.

I have experimented quite extensively with my recipes but rather conservatively I have decided that there is only one concoction that I like. It is a blend of apples, carrots, celery and beetroot – the quantities of each may vary greatly depending on what I have to hand but the ingredients never alter – because it is just perfect as it is! With this in mind I added beetroot and apples to my order this week and here is the result. Beetroot is super good for you, excellent at lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and especially at good at detoxing your liver, which is always a good thing.

Beetroot in a Bag

When it comes to juicers, you do have to invest. I have got a basic Magimix one which I have had for about 15 years and it is still going strong and is vastly superior, in my mind to a Nutribullet which was the fad this year and about the same price. I know that Nutribullet keeps in fibre but it is due to this, that practically every drink I have been served from one, is virtually undrinkable. You may strongly disagree and I would love to hear your recipes for your favourite juices.

juice with veg

Beetroot, Carrot, Apple and Celery Juice

1 beetroot

2 sticks celery

2 apples

3 carrots

Wash the vegetables and fruit well. Peel if you like, depending on your juicer. Cut up any veg that will not fit into the shoot. Stir all the juices together well. Drink immediately. (I like to keep my veg in the fridge for a couple of hours before juicing so that you get a really cold drink.)

Juice

 

Save

Carrot, Chickpea & Tahini Salad with Coriander

Anyone who knows me will know that I make a lot of slaws. It is such a great way of using up root vegetables all the way through the winter and summer alike. Choose the largest of your carrots for grating and save the smaller ones for roasting whole. There are so many variations to this recipe it is endless but this is one of my favourites which uses Tahini instead of the much overused mayonnaise. Carrot and coriander has always been a winning combination for me (think soup) and so the Moroccan flavours in this dish all add up to a particularly delicious, easy and quick to prepare salad and great for a BBQ alongside some grilled chicken, steak or fish.

Carrot, Chickpea and Tahini Salad with Coriander

4 large bunched carrots

½ tin chickpeas

2 tbsp. Tahini

Juice of half a lemon

Sea salt

Small bunch of Coriander

Peel and grate the carrots. In a large bowl mix 2 tbsp. of Tahini with the juice of half a lemon and a good pinch of salt. Amazingly the Tahini just gets thicker as you add the juice so you will have to let it down with a little water. You want the consistency of thin mayonnaise. Check seasoning. Add the drained chickpeas and then the grated carrot and the chopped coriander. Stir well and serve.

Carrot & Coriander 1