In advance of one of the biggest meat-eating holidays on my calendar (hooray, Thanksgiving!) I thought that I would write about some of my veggie efforts. Whilst on maternity leave a few years ago, I came a customer of Home Organics, a local produce delivery service. I thought that I’d keep the delivery for a few months when on leave and that it might fall by the wayside once I returned to work. Instead, I became an absolute addict, and one of Home Organics’ biggest cheerleaders. Every Thursday morning, I get a delivery of beautiful, organic, seasonal fruit & vegetables as well as free range, organic eggs. Amazing. Produce is sourced as locally as possible and is delicious; the apples and satsumas we’re getting at the minute are brilliant, and I love the ever-changing selection of greens that pop up, from kale rainbow chard in the winter to rocket and cima di rapa in the summer. There are weekly appearances from potatoes, carrots and onions, as well as fairly regular portions of broccoli, bananas, and lovely garlic. Everything else varies with the season; some recent delights featured were celeriac, red cabbage, baby butternut squash, and quince – autumn at its finest!
Getting a random, weekly delivery has changed the way I think about making dinner. Rather than automatically thinking about meat as the centre piece of the meal, and vegetables as an afterthought, I often take a look at what vegetables we have and how best I might accompany them. Sometimes, it means pairing some lovely, big baking potatoes with a lamb chop, but more and more often, it leads me to planning at least one meatless meals every week, as suggested by the growing Meatless Monday movement. I’m not always organized enough to have it on Mondays, and I will admit to frequently adding a sausage to my son’s plate to keep him interested, but my husband and I do have at least one meatless meal every week. Here are a few recent winners: Fried Eggs, Greens & Mushrooms, Vegetable Coconut Curry, and Beetroot Rosti.
If I’m looking for veggie inspiration, I often look no further than Denis Cotter of Cafe Paradiso. I think he’s a genius chef; I love his restaurant and his recipes. Wild Garlic, Gooseberries, and Me is one of my favorite food books. It’s chock full of recipes, memories, and general food knowledge. If you find yourself with a bit of time on your hands and a craving for seriously good veggie food, and I can’t say enough about his recipe for Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Oyster Mushroom Broth with Pumpkin Dumplings – it is something truly special. If you don’t want to go all out and fuss around with dumplings, the soup on it’s own is delicious – I did not expect to find such beautiful flavor in a meat-free broth, but it really is gorgeous. I generally make a double batch of the broth and keep some in the fridge as it is such a good winter warmer – lovely to have a mug of it with lunch.
Happy peeling, chopping, and cooking!