It’s been a heck of a long time since I’ve last grown yellow squash. These little fellas transported me back to around 16 years ago when I lived in a gorgeous old farm house on a dairy farm in Northern NSW. I had a really good composting system set up for the household scraps and collected well composted cow poo from under the cattle grate to get the veggie patch started. The vegetables were pretty darn good from that patch. I remember having some very prolific yellow squash plants and the sweetest tomatoes I’ve ever eaten in my life. I can’t remember growing squash since then. Funny how food can trigger memories.
Squash and zucchini are pretty easy to grow and versatile. You can grate them and make zucchini slice, turn them into zoodles as a pasta substitute, cut thinly and bake into chips, add to sauces, soups or curries, and grate into cakes to make them more moist. While there are lots of different ways you can cook with them, my very favourite way to cook zucchini is to grill on the barbeque. Turns out squash is just as good on the barbie. Sounds simple but it is one of those recipes where I do a little happy dance because it tastes sooo good. This little dish tastes greater than the sum of it’s parts, and in this case the parts were pretty good already. I used a flavour packed lemon foraged from a neighbourhood tree, delicious local extra virgin olive oil pressed by my friends grandparents earlier this year and squash and zucchini picked earlier that morning from my garden. A little spoon of my homemade chimichurri on top to serve and I was in heaven. Instead of using salt you can also use porcini salt.
Zucchini, cut in half lengthways
Squash, cut in 1 cm discs
For the amount in photo above I used the juice of half a lemon, a few tablespoons of oil and a generous pinch of salt. I then gave it a whisk in bowl and then tossed the cut squash and zucchini through to coat it well. Then I cooked it on the barbeque give or take about 5 mins on each side. You should get nice grill marks across the surface and its ready.
My little coriander patch has reached maturity and now needs to be pulled up before the early summer heat hits. I’ve been eating a fair bit of it over the last few months but it will bolt to seed soon. I save the seed for growing my next batch of coriander as well to use the seeds as a spice in the kitchen. Before this bolts I’ll be making a batch of my dad’s infamous chimichurri.
Bunch of coriander
Bunch of parsley
Bunch of spring onions
Fresh chopped chillies (to taste)
1 head of garlic, half crushed, other half sliced finely
30 grams dried Italian herbs
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Extra virgin olive oil
Chop the coriander, parsley, spring onions and chilli finely with a really sharp kitchen knife. Mix together. Mix in the crushed and sliced garlic. Add just enough extra virgin olive oil to cover the mix. Store in a tightly sealed glass container in the fridge.
Loquats (Eriobotrya japonica) grow all across the Adelaide Plains. There is a giant old loquat tree around the corner from me on a vacant block that fruits profusely each year. The birds don’t seem too interested in the fruit and either do the passers by. Loquats are best eaten straight off the tree warmed by the sun. They have large seeds and not a great deal of flesh which I suspect turns people off collecting the fruit. The flesh of the fruit is pretty delicious with some describing it as a cross between a mango and a peach. I think it just tastes like a loquat and not like any other fruit. The flavour is more delicate with the skin peeled off.
I made a batch of jam and some loquat fruit leather with this lot. Other ways to preserve would be drying the halves like dried apricots or making a delicate loquat jelly. I also read that loquat leaves have medicinal properties and can be made into tea. While the loquats are supposed to be high in pectin, this time I used shop bought pectin to make sure the jam set. The loquats are quite sweet already and only need a ratio of 1 part loquat to 1/2 part sugar for the jam. Pick the fruit when yellow (orange seems overripe to me) and add in some underripe loquats to up the pectin levels if not using added pectin.
1.6 kgs of deseeded loquats
800 gms sugar
juice of one lemon
Add all ingredients to a heavy based pot. Stir regularly, bring to a boil and then a rolling simmer. Cook for 1 hour. Blend with a stick blender if you want a smother texture. Put into sterilised jars and give a hot bath for 15 minutes.
1.5 kgs of deseeded loquats
juice of one lemon
splash of water
Add all the ingredients to a heavy set pot, cook on medium heat for 5 mins to allow for some of the juices to release. Then get a stick blender to puree the fruit. Place mix on baking sheets on the dehydrator trays and spread evenly. Dry for 7 hours at 70C until dry to touch.
If you’re lucky you’ve stumbled across a wild patch of asparagus down by a creek somewhere. I haven’t yet but am always on the look out as they are in season right now. This asparagus grows in my garden and a pretty low maintenance once it gets going. Just add compost and water every now and then.
It’s been a long time since I last grew leek. I’d forgotten about these ones, they were quite neglected and hidden by some overgrown rocket going to seed and some cabbages. To get the long white blanched stem you need to be a bit more proactive and either mound up the dirt around the stem, use some cut down pieces of old plumbing pipe or old 1L milk cartons to shade the stem.
Put these both together and you’ve got a tasty lunch or dinner. Don’t throw those leek tops out. They can be used in place of onions or roasted with a bit of salt and oil and added to other meals as a side. Or saved in the freezer to add to homemade stock.
2 puff pastry sheets
4 small leeks, sliced
1 bunch asparagus, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 long strands of thyme, leaves
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup cashew cheese
1/3 cup nut milk
salt and pepper
Put the oven to 210C. Add some oil to a medium heat pan, add the leek, garlic and cook for about 10 minutes until soft. Add the chopped asparagus and herbs to the mix and cook for a few more minutes. You want the leek fairly caramelised.
Thaw the pastry or make your own pastry. Cut each sheet into four smaller squares. Fold the edges over about 1 cm on the edges to form a little ridge. Get your nails and press into the middle part to minimise the rise. Bake in oven for 10 minutes until just starting to puff up.
While the pastry is cooking in the oven mix whisk together the egg, cashew cheese, milk, salt and pepper to taste.
Pull the pastry out of oven and top with the leek mix. Spoon over about 1.5 dessert spoons of the egg mix over the leek mix until the centre part of the pastry is covered with the egg mix. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Makes 8.
Serve with a nice fresh green garden salad.
Every part of the dandelion is edible, with supposedly more nutrition in one plant that in a whole week’s worth of supermarket food. These pop up in lawns and disturbed ground so like any foraged greens make sure they haven’t been sprayed. The leaves can be cooked or eaten raw in things like pestos or salads. The flowers make a nice addition to salads and the petals picked off and sprinkled on top of food as a pretty garnish. The flowers can be reduced into a syrup and used as a sugar substitute, or made into wine and beer. Leaves dried and drank as tea. The roots can be roasted into a coffee substitute or shredded and added to homemade sauerkraut mix.
The roots are better in winter as the sugars are pushed down into the root when the frosts kick in. It can regrow from a small part of the broken off root so don’t worry about depleting the stock if you pull out the plant. The plant is particularly high in minerals and is good for the body and garden – e.g. add it to weed tea fertiliser. The Latin name is Taraxacum officianale meaning the ‘the official remedy for all disorders’. It’s been used medicinally by many cultures for thousands of years. All round it’s a good plant to add to the diet.
250 grams silverbeet
250 grams mixed wild greens – eg mallow, nettle, sour sob, fennel fronds, amaranth
1 red onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, finely grated
2 eggs, whisked
180 gm block b.d. farm feta, crumbled
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 lemon, rind and juice
bunch of dill, finely chopped
6 sheets filo
oil for filo
Pre heat oven to 180C.
Cook greens in boiling water until wilted. Remove from water and squeeze out the water from the greens. Chop up them up and put into a large mixing bowl.
Cook onion and garlic over medium heat until soft. Then add it to the chopped greens.
Add eggs, feta, parmesan, bread crumbs, all spice, dill, lemon to bowl and mix well with hands.
Line a pie dish with filo, brush with oil, then add another sheet but cross it in the other direction, add the sheets in a cross pattern and oil the sheets as you add them. Add the greens mixture to the dish and fold over the filo pastry to enclose the mixture. Then brush top with oil. Stab the pastry a few times to allow for steam to escape while it’s cooking.
Cook for 40 mins or until pastry is well cooked through and is golden brown.
Allium triquetrum, also known as three cornered garlic or three cornered leek is coming through now. All parts of this plant are edible, its leaves, flowers and bulbs. It has a garlicy onion flavour and can be used anywhere you would use things like garlic chives or spring onions. No need to cook it, it can be eaten raw. Careful picking in public places as its a declared weed and will most likely be sprayed. In a few weeks it will be more obvious when its white flowers come through. This was growing along a creek.
Across South Australia right now is a sea of yellow. Oxalis pes-caprae also known as sour sobs is in flower. In our house we call it the love heart plant as its little leaves are in the shape of love hearts. These normally get pulled out in gardens due to them smothering and competing with plants around them. Before getting rid of them pluck the flowers and make a dye with them. This is a lovely activity to do with kids.
Kids seem to already know some of the secrets of this little plant because they will often pluck the stalk and suck the ends for the sour flavour hit. If you have a little person collecting flowers with you, let them eat the stems and leaves too. The stems, root and leaves are all edible. It has a lemony sour flavour and is harmless in small amounts. If you want to eat it in larger amounts just boil it first and discard the liquid before eating.
To make the dye collect a few cups of flowers. Fill and boil a kettle with about 1.5 litres of water. In a pot, add the flowers and boiled water and let steep. After 5 mins or so you will get a vibrant yellow water.
The fabric doesn’t need to be in the water for long to become dyed but if you leave it in for at least half an hour it should allow for the dye to be soaked up well by all the fibres and give a more even colour. Use natural fibres for this – eg cotton, wool, linen.
To make yellow, use either vinegar. To make orange, add bicarb soda. Now, I’m still trying to find an effective natural fixing agent for this dye as the yellow went orange after the first wash and vinegar and salt wasn’t strong enough to hold the colour after the wash.
I recently did a Growing Great Veggies course taught by Nat Wiseman from Village Greens and Steven Hoepfner from Wagtail Urban Farm. They both very generously shared their knowledge honed through experience running market gardens using organic methods. Well worth attending if you get a chance. The course was held at the Glandore Community Garden and growing in one of the patches was this gorgeous broccoli.
Broccoli is a favorite in our house and the whole plant can be eaten. The seeds can be sprouted. Leaves can be used in salads, juices or cooked. Stalks can be cut finely and used in stirfries or diced and put in stews and sauces. The heads can be chopped into florets and can be eaten raw or cooked in dishes like Gado Gado. The flowers are also edible. It’s such a versitile plant and fairly easy to grow through Adelaide’s wet winters.
A simple way to prepare broccoli is use it in a budda bowl. Budda bowls are a great way to put together simple seasonal produce into a nourishing meal. Braise the broccoli florets in stock, cook until tender. Roast some pumkin seasoned with oil, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Assemble the bowl by adding broccoli, roast pumpkin, wild or salad greens (mallow, chickweed, cooked nettle), saukraut, and cooked chickpeas. Garnish with dandelion petals. For a simple dressing put together 1 part lemon juice and 2 parts olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
This recipe brings together all the winter flavours of Adelaide into a super simple dinner. Fennel seeds, orange and lemon can be foraged fairly easily. The hero of the dish is the oil that’s been freshly pressed from a friends family farm, bringing all the flavours together.
1kg chicken thighs
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons salt
2 large fennel bulbs
1/3 cup cold water
1 garlic clove, finely grated
2 teaspoons cornflour
Create the marinade by mixing together the oil, mustard, fennel seeds, salt, zest and juice of the oranges and lemon. Add the chicken, toss through so the chicken is well covered and marinate for a few hours or overnight if you can.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Cut the tube bits off the fennel and then cut each bulb into 12 wedges. Place the fennel into a large flat baking tray and put the marinated chicken and marinade on top of the fennel. Toss the marinade through the fennel but make sure the chicken is sitting on top of the fennel when placing it in the oven. Give the chicken a last drizzle of oil and bake for at least 1 1/2 hours.
Take the baking tray out of the oven then place the fennel and chicken into a serving plate. Make a gravy out of the juices by putting the baking tray onto a high heat on the stove. Mix the water and the cornflour together until there are no lumps. Then add to the pan juices. Add the clove of garlic and using a whisk mix the gravy for a few minutes until it starts to thicken.