Seasonal local food recipe No.239 – Swiss chard and onion tart

swiss-chard-camel csa

I made this for tea on Friday – it has to be said that swiss chard is not one of my husband’s favourite vegetables but after he had polished off a second helping he said I could make it again!  I cheated and used ready-made and ready rolled pastry!  It is from the Riverford Farm cook book.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

300g shortcrust pastry
50g butter
3 small onions, finely sliced
leaves from 1 sprig of thyme
300g swiss chard
10 olives, chopped
3-4 tbs creme fraiche
1/2 tbs freshly grated parmesan cheese
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and place on a baking sheet, prick with a fork in several places and chill for 15 minutes (it doesn’t need to be a uniform shape).  Place in a pre-heated oven 200°C/gas mark 6 and bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.  Once the pastry is rolled out you can start to prepare the topping.  Heat the butter in a pan, add the onions and thyme and cook gently for about 10 minutes until soft but not coloured.  Meanwhile, separate the chard stalks from the leaves and chop both leaves and stalks roughly, keeping them separate.  Add the stalks to a pan of boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes, until tender.  Remove the stalks with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Add the leaves to the boiling water and blanch briefly.  drain well, refresh under a cold tap and then squeeze to remove as much water as possible.  ( I actually cooked the chard stalks with the onions and wilted the leaves in the microwave.)  Add the chard stalks and leaves to the onions and reheat gently.  Season to taste and mix well.  Spread the mixture over the pastry base and sprinkle with the chopped olives, parmesan and a few blobs of creme fraiche.  Bake in the oven 190°C/gasmark 5 for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned.

Seasonal local food recipe No.226 – Nigel’s asparagus and lemon risotto

The lemon juice gives this risotto a lovely fresh taste.  It’s from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries.  The original recipe uses chicken stock but I am sure vegetable stock will be just as good.

Serves 2

Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 25-30 minutes

50 g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
200g arborio rice
1 glass white wine or Noilly Prat
400g asparagus chopped into short lengths
1 litre hot stock
Grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
salt and pepper
3 tbs parmesan cheese, grated

Melt the butter in a wide, high-sided pan over a low heat.  Add the onion and let it soften in the butter, stirring occasionally, until it is translucent and silky.  Stir in the rice then add the wine and let it bubble down until the liquid has pretty much disappeared.  Add a ladleful of stock, turn the heat up a bit, then let the liquid almost disappear before adding the asparagus and a second ladle of stock.  Continue adding the stock as it boils down to almost nothing, stirring the rice frequently. Season with salt, pepper, the lemon zest and juice to taste and continue cooking until the rice is creamy but has a little bite left in it.  Stir in the cheese and eat immediately.

Seasonal local food recipe No.218 – Homity bake

This is a favourite winter warmer in our house and originates from the Cranks recipe book.  It started out as a pie but as I’m lazy and don’t particularly like making pastry I missed it out and just baked the filling!

Serves 4

Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 25-30 mins

500g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
450g onions, thinly sliced
3 tbs olive oil
25g butter
15g parsley, chopped
125g cheese, grated
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 tbs milk
salt and pepper to taste

Boil or steam the potatoes until tender.  At the same time saute the onions in the oil until really soft.  Combine the potatoes and onions, add the butter, parsley, half the cheese, garlic, milk and season well.  Place the mixture in a greased ovenproof dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Bake at gas mark 6/200°C for 25-30 minutes until golden brown on top.  This is delicious served with baked beans.

Seasonal local recipe No.203 – Nigel’s gratin of pumpkin and borlotti beans


The large amount of double cream in this Nigel Slater recipe made me wilt. So when trying it out I put in a lesser quantity of creme fraiche mixed with yoghurt, and tinned borlotti beans in the absence of fresh.

A firm and flavourful winter squash from my veg box substituted the more watery pumpkin, so I hope I got away with it! Result: still the “resoundingly satisfying family meal” that Nigel intended.

Serves 6

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking time: one hour

3 small onions, roughly chopped
5 tbsp oil
1kg pumpkin or other yellow-fleshed squash (peeled and seeded weight)
250g borlotti beans (weight before podding)
350g gruyere
500ml double cream
30g grated parmesan

Warm the onions in the oil in a deep pan. Cut the pumpkin into large dice, then add to the softened onions and continue cooking till the pumpkin has coloured a little at the edges. Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4.

Pod the borlotti and boil the beans hard for 10 minutes in unsalted water then drain. Cut the gruyere into large dice and scatter in the bottom of a large baking dish. Put the onion and pumpkin on top of the cheese, add the drained borlotti beans, then season with salt and black pepper. Pour over the cream, scatter the top with grated parmesan and bake for 35-45 minutes till the cheese has melted and the cream is bubbling around the edges.

Seasonal local food recipe No.165: Squash & sage risotto

This autumnal twist on a traditional Italian favourite comes from Barney Desmazery, food editor of BBC Good Food. He uses butternut squash but I substituted the grey-green Crown Prince variety from Camel CSA’s weekly veg box. And still had plenty left over to make a big batch of spiced squash soup.

Serves: 4
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

1kg squash , peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
3 tbsp olive oil
bunch sage , leaves picked, half roughly chopped, half left whole
1½ l vegetable stock
50g butter
1 onion , finely chopped
300g risotto rice
1 small glass white wine
50g parmesan, finely grated


Before you make the risotto, heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Toss the squash in 1 tbsp oil together with the chopped sage. Scatter into a shallow roasting tin and roast for 30 mins until it is brown and soft.

While the squash is roasting, prepare the risotto. Bring the stock to the boil and keep on a low simmer.In a separate pan, melt half the butter over a medium heat. Stir in the onions and sweat gently for 8-10 mins until soft but not coloured, stirring occasionally. Stir the rice into the onions until completely coated in the butter, then stir continuously until the rice is shiny and the edges of the grain start to look transparent.

Pour in the wine and simmer until totally evaporated. Add the stock, a ladleful at a time and stirring the rice over a low heat for 25-30 mins, until the rice is cooked al dente (with a slightly firm, starchy bite in the middle). The risotto should be creamy and slightly soupy. When you draw a wooden spoon through it, there should be a wake that holds for a few moments but not longer.

At the same time, gently fry the whole sage leaves in a little olive oil until crisp, then set aside on kitchen paper. When the squash is cooked, mash half of it to a rough purée and leave half whole. When the risotto is just done, stir though the purée, then add the cheese and butter and leave to rest for a few mins. Serve the risotto scattered with the whole chunks of squash and the crisp sage leaves.

Seasonal local food recipe No.127: Spiced squash (or pumpkin) soup

This warming, spicy soup is a great antidote to rich, Christmas food. It’s an adaptation of a couple of classic recipes, using the squash or pumpkin as well as chillies, carrots, onions, garlic and parsley from this week’s Christmas vegetable boxes.

Serves: 4

Preparation: 20 mins
Cooking time: 35 mins

750g squash or pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and diced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 fresh red or green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 carrots peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1.25 litres vegetable or chicken stock
Lemon juice
Flat-leaf parsley or chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 180°c/gas 4.

Peel the squash or pumpkin, remove the stringy bits and seeds and discard them. Chop it into cubes and put in a roasting tray mixed with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, the garlic and the spices. Cook in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until soft and brown at the edges.

Place a pan on a medium heat with the remaining olive oil. Add the carrot, onion, celery and chilli and sweat until softened but not coloured. Then mix in the roasted squash or pumpkin and the stock.

Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes until all the vegetables are soft and cooked through.

Blitz with a hand blender or in a food processor until smooth. Taste and season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice, then sprinkle with some chopped parsley or chives.

Serve with a swirl of creme fraiche and a scattering of toasted pumpkin seeds or crispy bacon pieces.

Seasonal local food recipe No 81: Onions stewed in wine

This is a classic recipe from Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking. It’s a dish to make, she says, ‘when you have a glass of wine, red, white, rosé, sweet, dry or aromatic (ie some sort of vermouth) to spare’.

Serves 4-6

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 1½ hours

6-8 onions, all the same size
1 tbsp olive oil
small glass of wine
salt and pepper

Peel the onions and put them with the olive oil in a thick pan in which they just fit comfortably. Start them off over a moderate flame and, when the oil is beginning to sizzle, pour in a small glass of wine. Let it boil fiercely for a few seconds. Add water to come half-way up the onions. Transfer to a low oven and cook uncovered for about 1½ hours. Put back on top of the stove over a fast flame for 2 or 3 minutes, until the wine sauce is thick and syrupy. Season. Serve as a separate vegetable, or round a roast.

Seasonal recipe No 34 – Red onion marmalade

From Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook – “the perfect thing to eat for lunch with bread and cheese … and it’s delicious with sausages and mash”, she says. It keeps well in the fridge for about a month.

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: about an hour

Ingredients (for 3-4 jars)
2 garlic cloves
sea salt and black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
450g red onions, sliced
4 tbsp red wine
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
few sprigs of thyme

Crush the garlic with some sea salt and heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the onions and garlic, and sweat gently, without allowing them to brown, for 20 minutes. Cook until they are translucent and soft.

Add the red wine, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, and simmer gently until most of the liquid has evaporated, which will take about 15-20 minutes.

Add the thyme, season with salt and pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes. Put into warm sterilised jars and cover while still hot.

Seasonal recipe No 17 – Stilton, onion and potato pie

Nigel Slater calls it ‘a cheesy pie to warm the soul’. It’s from his Kitchen Diaries book. And it doesn’t have to be Stilton – Cornish blue, Sue’s Trelawney – any fairly strong cheese will work just as well.

Serves: 6

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 25-30 minutes

1.5kg floury potatoes
4 medium onions
80g butter
150ml milk
225g Stilton or other cheese
25g grated Parmesan

Peel the potatoes, cut into halves or quarters and cook in boiling salted water until tender – about 15 minutes.

While the potatoes cook, peel the onions and cut them in half, then cut each into five or six segments. Put them in a heavy-based frying pan with 40g of the butter and let them cook over a moderate to low heat, stirring from time to time. They will need 20-25 minutes to become thoroughly soft and sticky.

Bring the milk to the boil and turn off the heat. Drain the potatoes, then tip them into the bowl of a food mixer, or mash them in the pan with a hand-held beater. Slowly add the milk and the remaining butter. Beat to a smooth mash.

Set the oven to 200C/Gas 6. Butter the base and sides of a 28cm baking dish. Spoon in half the potato, smooth it a little, then add the onions and a grinding of black pepper. Crumble the cheese over the onions. Pile the rest of the mash over the top and smooth lightly with the back of a spoon.

Dust over the grated Parmesan, then bake for 25-30 minutes, by which time the top will be pale gold and the filling will be bubbling up around the edges.

Enough for 6 as a main dish with greens or a salad.

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