Eat The Seasons: March

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March is a great month here in the UK – Spring is officially in the air, the sun is finally shining, it’s getting a little warmer outside and the seasonal veg is just fabulous. According to the Eat Seasonably calendar the best of the bunch at the mo are leeks, kale, cauliflower, savoy cabbage and spring greens. So much potential not to mention goodness. Here are five ways to get your 5-a-day.

– fry a finely chopped leek over a med-high heat in a little butter or olive oil until soft. Season to taste and add a handful each of finely shredded cabbage and spring greens. Turn the heat down low and cook with the lid on for about ten mins. Delicious side for any meat, fish or veggie dish.

– don’t discard cauliflower leaves! Thoroughly wash, then chop them up and use in stir fries, curries or see this recipe.

– instead of potatoes, try cauliflower mash. Chop up a whole head cauliflower into florets, place in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Cook for 5-10 mins over a high heat until tender then drain, return to pan and mash as you would potatoes. Season and add a little butter, cream or cheese to taste.

– when roasting up a tray of veg, add a handful of kale at the end for amazing kale chips. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, and season to taste then roast for the last five mins with the other veg. Make sure you set a timer though, as much longer than five mins and they will burn.

– sauerkraut is a great way to preserve cabbage when it’s at its best, and contains friendly gut bacteria so is very good for you. Sterilise a large glass jar and fill it with finely shredded cabbage. Sprinkle with a tbsp of sea salt and a tbsp of sugar then fill almost to the top with boiling water. Leave to ferment in a warm place for at least a month, and store in the fridge once opened.

 

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Paprika beef topped with spicy roasted squash and crispy kale

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I set out to make a butternut squash lasagne the other night, but changed my mind at the last minute and decided to spice things up a little. I kept things really simple, as always, and will definitely be cooking this fab dish again!

Since learning that it’s one of the most nutrient dense vegetables on the planet, kale has become my new best friend and was a wonderful addition to this meal which traditionally would have some cheese on the top.

Ingredients (for two):
300g minced beef
100ml red wine
50ml tomato purée
50ml balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
Med red onion – finely chopped
2 lge cloves of garlic – crushed
Half a butternut squash – peeled & cut into 6 discs
100g kale
2 glugs of olive oil
Salt & pepper
Tsp dried chilli flakes (or more depending on your taste)

Method:
– preheat the oven to 175C/360F

– prep the butternut squash and arrange on a non stick baking tray. Drizzle over some olive oil, salt, pepper and chilli flakes. Roast for 30-40 mins until cooked through

– while the squash is roasting make the beef component. Gently fry the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until soft. Add the mince and stir well until all the meat is brown

– stir in the paprika and give everything a good mix

– add the red wine, tomato purée and balsamic, ensure everything is incorporated well. Allow to simmer on a low heat for 20-25 mins

– once the squash is cooked, put the kale on the top and season to taste. Cook in the oven for 3-5 mins until crispy, taking care to ensure it doesn’t burn

– layer up your bowls with beef, then squash and top with the yummy crispy kale

 

Ox cheek & ale stew

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On a recent trip to Twickenham to have lunch with a dear friend, I discovered that the awesome Laverstoke Park Farm guys have a shop! They’ve got a huge meat counter full of organic delights, tons of fresh veg, a massive fridge stocking their pork pies, quiches and beer as well as a deli counter offering lunchtime fare and freshly ground coffee. It was as if I’d literally died and gone to food heaven. I was in my element, but had to be restraint as I was carrying my eight month old in a sling and couldn’t fit too much more in the nappy bag. I feel I chose wisely however, and bought ox cheeks and beers to make this sumptuous slow cooked stew for our Sunday lunch.

Ingredients:
1kg ox cheeks – diced into large chunks
1 leek – washed & chopped chunky
2 red onions – peeled & chopped chunky
500g carrots – peeled & chopped chunky
100g mushrooms – peeled & quartered
100g curly kale – washed & sliced
Bottle of ale
500ml stock
Large knob of butter (I used goats, you could use cows or olive oil)

Method:
– preheat the oven to 160C/320F

– melt the butter over a med high heat in a large saucepan and cook the leek and onion for a few mins. Stir constantly to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom

– add the mushrooms and cook for another few mins with the lid on

– while that is happening lay the carrots at the bottom of a sturdy casserole pot, and arrange the ox cheeks on top

– tip the leek, onion, mushrooms and pan juices over the top of the meat then pour over the ale and stock

– cook with the lid on for two hours, then reduce the heat to 150C/300F and cook for a further two hours

– at this point stir in the kale and cook for one more hour. The meat will melt in the mouth after all this oven time and the kale will take on the flavour of the stew. You’ll be left with an extraordinary rich almost gamey flavour. I know ox cheek can be a bit difficult to come by, but the taste is so worth it and they’re one of the cheapest cuts of beef you can buy. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

– I served this stew with cauliflower & sprout mash and got happy faces all round