Category Archives: 12 veg of Christmas

12 veg of Christmas – Christmas cocktail recipes

Celebrate in true Riverford style with our veg & fruit cocktails, perfect to share among friends and family this Christmas and New Year.

Purple Mary

This is basically a Bloody Mary with beetroot purée in place of the tomato. We add a bit of acid in the form of orange and vinegar to replace the acidity of the tomatoes. Make sure you’re guests aren’t too oiled before serving these; beetroot won’t come out of a cocktail dress. I’d advise making the mix the day before at least, as it allows the flavours to marry.

Riverford-purple-mary-cocktail300ml vodka
5cm piece of horseradish
3 tennis ball sized beetroot, boiled or roasted till soft, & skinned
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 orange, juiced
Balsamic vinegar
Tabasco
1 tsp celery salt
Shot of sherry
3 ribs of celery

The first step is to get a loose beetroot purée, not too thick and not too watery. You want to be able to drink it, not have to attack it with a spoon. The reason a Bloody Mary is a divisive drink is that it sits somewhere between a beverage and a meal, and that is down to the body of the tomato juice. Put the beetroot in a food processor or blender and run until smooth, add cold water until you get the texture of thick tomato juice, but don’t forget the vodka will thin it down further. Now grate in the horseradish, add the vodka, sherry, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, and a shake of Tabasco. The next step is to season it with a dash of orange juice and balsamic vinegar until you feel happy with the acidity levels. A pinch more salt may be needed to bring everything alive. Pop in the fridge overnight, give it another stir, a taste and pass through a fine sieve into a jug. Serve in shot glasses with a small celery stick stirrer in each, or in a high-ball glass with a bacon sandwich for some ‘hair of the dog’ the next morning.

clementine gin fizz

serves 1
A gin fizz is classically made with lemon juice for a sweet sour appetiser. This clementine version gives a seasonal twist. The basic ratio is 1 part gin, 2 parts fruit juice, 4 parts carbonated water.

clementine-fizz60ml gin
30ml clementine juice
1 tsp caster sugar
120ml soda or carbonated mineral water
clementine slice/wedge & mint leaf

Muddle the gin, juice and sugar in a jug, or for extra chill, shake over crushed ice in a cocktail maker, if you have one. Pour over a few ice cubes and top up with fizzy water. Serve garnished with fresh mint and a slice of clementine.

mulled cider or apple juice

makes 5 litres
This is from Ben Watson’s mate Cider Andy. He’s adamant that to get the genuine article, you need to use his two-year-old Dartmoor Cider, but any dry, scrumpy type cider will do.

mulled-cider5 litres cider or apple juice
approx 200g dark muscovado
sugar
100g cinnamon sticks
25g allspice powder
a few whole cloves
large pinch of nutmeg
large pinch of ginger

Put all the ingredients in a large pan. Cover with a lid and infuse at 60°C for 30 mins. Strain off the cinnamon sticks and cloves, then reheat to serve. For mulled apple juice, leave out most of the sugar and add a couple of sliced oranges and lemons.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic veg or fruit to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

12 veg of Christmas – 5 festive leftover recipes

Don’t view leftovers as second-class food; with the right treatment you can often make meals even tastier than the first time around. Here are a few recipes to use up any leftover festive veg and turkey.

turkey quesadillas

autumn-veg-quesadilla1 small to medium-sized butternut squash, peeled & diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 red or white onion, finely diced
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
1-2 fresh chillies, deseeded & finely chopped
leftover turkey, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt & ground black pepper
4 large flour tortillas
a little oil for brushing
large handful coriander leaves
200g grated cheddar

Preheat oven to 190’C/Gas Mark 5. Toss the squash, pepper, corn, onion, spices, chilli and olive oil in a large baking dish. Season. Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until the squash is tender. Add the leftover turkey after 25 minutes so it can warm through. Brush each tortilla on one side with a little oil. Put one of the tortillas in a large non-stick frying pan, oil side down. Sprinkle some cheese over one half of the tortilla, then the veg mixture, then a few coriander leaves. Fold the other half of the tortilla over to make a half circle, gently pressing down with your hands to flatten. Gently cook for a minute or two, until the tortilla is crisp and golden brown (keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn). Carefully turn over using a large fish slice and cook on the other side. Keep warm in a low oven while you repeat with the others. Cut each one in half to serve.

turkey risotto

3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1l chicken or turkey stock
splash of white wine
400g risotto rice
300-500g cooked chicken or turkey
1 tbsp fresh mixed herbs, chopped
4 tbsp parmesan, grated
salt & pepper

In a large heavy-based saucepan heat the oil and gently cook the garlic and onion until softened but not coloured (about 5 minutes). Meanwhile, in a separate pan bring the stock to a gentle simmer. Add the rice to the onion and garlic and stir until coated in oil. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the rice is translucent. Add the wine to the rice and cook until absorbed, then add a few spoonfuls of stock to the rice and stir well. Cook until most of the stock has been absorbed before adding another spoonful. Continue cooking and gradually adding stock until the rice is creamy but al dente (you may not need all the stock). Fold in the cooked turkey meat, fresh herbs and parmesan. Season well and serve.

parsnip, Brussels sprout & bacon potato cakes

serves 4
This is a jazzed-up version of bubble and squeak and can be adapted to finish up all sorts of leftover vegetables, though parsnips, sprouts and bacon is a particularly satisfying combination. A poached or fried egg or sausages would be a good addition.

parsnip-sprout-bacon-potato-cakes200g parsnips, peeled & cut into even-sized pieces (alternatively, you could use leftover boiled, steamed or roasted parsnips)
3 tbsp olive oil
300–400g potatoes, peeled & cut into even-sized pieces
200g Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed
8 rashers smoked streaky bacon, finely sliced
polenta flour (or use ordinary plain flour), for dusting
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Toss the parsnips with salt, pepper and about a tablespoon of the oil. Spread over an oven tray and roast for about 40 minutes, until soft and beginning to caramelise. Remove, allow to cool then roughly chop. While the parsnips are roasting, boil the potatoes in salted water until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain well and mash while warm. Keep your mash as dry as possible so that the cakes hold together; if it seems wet stir it over a low heat for a few minutes.
Cook the sprouts in plenty of salted boiling water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well and cut into quarters. Fry the bacon over a medium–high heat with a drizzle of oil in a large frying pan (preferably non-stick) until really crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Keep the oil left in the pan to fry the cakes. Mix all the veg with the bacon and season with salt and pepper. Dust your hands with flour then mould the mixture into burgersized patties. Add the remaining oil to the frying pan, place over a medium heat and fry the cakes in batches until they are golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Add more oil to the pan if you need it. If the first cakes have cooled down by the time you have fried the last, you can reheat them all in the oven for 5–10 minutes, until piping hot.

Variations
* Replace the parsnips with roasted beetroot or squash for striking coloured alternatives.
* Use raw grated apples instead of bacon for a vegetarian option.
* Experiment with your greens: try cabbage or kale.

creamy sprout, leek & smoked ham pancakes

makes 4, prep 15 mins, cook 30 mins

creamy-sprout-leek-ham-pancakesfor the pancakes:
100g buckwheat flour
1 egg
300ml milk
50g butter, melted

for the filling:
25g butter
1 leek, finely shredded
200g brussels sprouts, thinly shredded
25g buckwheat flour
300ml milk
75g strong cheddar cheese, grated, plus a little extra for sprinkling
2 tsp dijon mustard
small handful of roughly chopped dill leaves (optional)
1 pack of Riverford smoked ham

make the pancakes:
Put the flour and a good pinch of salt in a bowl. Crack in the egg, add a splash of milk and whisk together to form a thick, smooth paste. Gradually add the rest of the milk, whisking as you go. Add a teaspoon of the butter to the batter. Use kitchen paper dipped in a little of the butter to grease a non-stick pancake pan (or a 20-21cm frying pan). Ladle in enough batter to just cover the pan, rolling it around to spread it out. Cook on a medium high heat for 1½ mins, until small bubbles start appearing and the underneath is golden. Carefully turn it with a fish slice or spatula. Cook for approx 1 minute more, until the other side is golden too. Remove to a plate, cover with greaseproof paper or foil, and repeat until you have 4 good pancakes (sometimes the first one can go awry).

make the filling:
Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the leek and sprouts and fry on a low heat for 10 mins, until softened. Add the flour and stir for 2 mins. Gradually stir in the milk, then add the cheese. Simmer for a few mins until the cheese has melted and the sauce thickened. Season and stir in the mustard and dill. Lay the pancakes on a grill tray. Lay slices of ham over half of each pancake, then add a couple of spoonfuls of the filling. Fold the pancakes over, sprinkle a little extra cheese on top and grill on a low to medium heat, until the cheese has melted and the tops of the pancakes are a little crispy. Or you can warm them through in a medium oven if you prefer.

Brussels sprout & pancetta pasta with sage & roast garlic cream

serves 4
Roasting garlic gives it a sweet, caramelised flavour that suits this dish, but it does take a little time, so you might as well roast several heads and save some for other dishes. If you’re short of time, just add a couple of crushed or finely chopped garlic cloves towards the end of the onion cooking time. We’ve gone for a spelt pasta because we like its nutty flavour alongside the sweet garlic sauce, but any pasta will do.

brussels-sprouts-pancetta-pasta1 whole garlic bulb
200ml double cream
1 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
250g pancetta or streaky bacon, diced
1 onion, very finely sliced
6–8 sage leaves, finely shredded
small glass of white wine (optional)
400g dried spelt or other pasta
500g Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed, halved or quartered, depending on size (keep a little of the core intact so the pieces hold together)
4 tbsp Parmesan, finely grated
salt and black pepper

First, roast your garlic. Heat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4 and follow the method on page 284. Once cooked, leave to cool slightly, then separate the cloves and squeeze the skin to release the flesh. Save half for another day and mix the remainder with the cream. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan, add the pancetta and fry, stirring now and then, to brown it. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add a splash more oil if the pan seems dry, lower the heat, add the onion and fry very gently for 10 minutes until softened. Stir now and then to stop it catching. Add the pancetta and sage to the onion. Turn up the heat and stir for 2 minutes. If using the wine, add it now and let it reduce for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic cream and let it bubble away for a couple more minutes. Meanwhile, put two pans of salted water on to boil. While the onion and pancetta are cooking, add the pasta to one pan of boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions. Drain, reserving a little of the pasta cooking water. Meanwhile, blanch the Brussels sprouts in the other pan for 3–4 minutes, depending on size. Drain. Stir half the Parmesan into the sauce, then toss in the cooked pasta and sprouts, adding a little reserved pasta water to thin the sauce if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste then serve sprinkled with the rest of the cheese.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic veg to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

12 veg of Christmas – vegetarian Christmas dinner mains

Whether you’re a vegetarian or fancy something different this year, try these recipes for a vegetarian Christmas dinner main. The go-to dish for non-meat eaters is usually nut roast but these recipes are a little different, and in true Christmas spirit are abundant in cheese, pastry, and good old winter veg.

squash, kale & stilton pie

squash-kale-stilton-pie1 small (750g-800g) butternut squash, peeled & chopped into 1-2cm dice
1 large red onion, finely diced
2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
200g curly kale, washed, leaves stripped from their stalks
4 tbsp double cream
200g blue cheese, crumbled
2 ready-rolled puff pastry sheets
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat your oven to 220˚C/gas 6. Toss the squash in just enough oil to coat and season. Roast in a baking dish for approx 30 mins, or until just tender. Fry the onion and rosemary in 3 tbsp oil on a low heat for 10 mins, stirring now and then, until softened. If it looks like catching at any point, add a splash of water. Cook the kale in the pan of boiling water for 4 mins, until softened. Drain, refresh in cold water, then drain again and squeeze out any excess moisture. Finely chop. Mix the squash, onion, kale and double cream. Season and cool for 15 mins. Mix in the blue cheese. Unroll the pastry sheets and cut into quarters. Lay 4 pieces on a lightly greased baking tray, score a 2cm border inside the edge of each and pile the veg within it. Dampen the pastry border with some water. Lay the other 4 pastry pieces over the top. Gently stretch to cover, pressing the edges down well to seal. Pull the edges up and over slightly to confirm the seal. Brush the top with beaten egg and bake for 25-30 mins, until crisp, puffed and golden.

leek & tomato crumble

2 tbsp olive oil
600g leeks, trimmed & sliced
450g tomatoes, cut into wedges, seeds removed
300ml veg stock
300g cream cheese
1 tsp dried thyme or 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
for the crumble:
150g butter
275g plain flour
150g cheddar, grated
100g chopped mixed nuts, toasted

In a large pan, heat the oil and gently fry the leeks for 8 mins, until softened. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 2 mins. Add the stock, cream cheese and thyme. Stir to combine, until the cream cheese has melted and you have a creamy sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste and transfer the mixture to a baking dish. In a large bowl, rub together the butter and flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs (or blitz in a food processor). Add the cheese and nuts and sprinkle the mixture over the leeks. Bake in the oven at 190˚C for 20-30 mins until the topping is golden.

Christmas pie with greens, chestnuts & feta

The pie can be made in advance and frozen uncooked. Defrost before putting in the oven.

400-500g chard, spinach or kale (be generous if using spinach)
200g cooked, peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped
100g walnut pieces, toasted
80g currants, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes & drained
200g feta cheese, crumbled
leaves from 4 sprigs thyme
1 level tsp ground cinnamon
1 level tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground allspice or ground cloves
3 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp olive oil
salt + pepper
500g all butter puff pastry

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Line a baking sheet with non-stick parchment paper. Pull any hard stalks from the greens, wash the leaves and blanch them in boiling salted water until just tender (or steam them). Drain and rinse immediately under plenty of cold water. Drain again and squeeze out the leaves, chop finely and place in a mixing bowl. Add the chestnuts, walnuts, currants, thyme, spices and olive oil. Set aside 2 tbsp of the beaten egg, then add the remaining egg to the leaves and combine everything thoroughly. Add the feta and mix in carefully so that the pieces of cheese do not break up. Season with salt and black pepper. On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry 3mm thick into a rectangle roughly 25 x 30cm. Pile the filling in a thick tube along the shorter edge and carefully roll up into a cylinder. Brush a little egg where the pastry joins to seal and trim off any overlapping pastry. Place on the baking sheet. Brush the pie with the rest of the egg and cut a few diagonal slashes in the pastry so steam can escape. Bake for 30-40 mins or until golden and the pastry is cooked through. Serve with cranberry sauce.

spanakopita with spring greens & leeks

serves 4-6, prep 15 mins, cook 50 mins

spanakopita-with-chard-and-leeks500g spring greens or spinach
2 tbsp oil for frying
500g leeks, trimmed, sliced in half lengthways, then shredded
100g melted butter
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried mint
4 eggs
200g ricotta (or cottage cheese)
200g feta
handful chopped parsley
handful chopped dill
250g packet filo pastry
2 tbsp poppy seeds

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and blanch the leaves (spinach or spring greens) for 2 mins. Drain, plunge into cold water to stop the cooking and keep the colour, then drain again. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out any excess liquid with your hands, then roughly chop the leaves. Heat the oil and fry the leeks for 6 mins. Add the garlic and mint and fry for 2 mins. Leave to cool, then mix in the chopped leaves. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Stir in the ricotta, crumble in the feta, then add the veg and herbs and stir gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the filo from the packet and lay it out. Cover with a clean, slightly damp tea towel to stop it drying out. Brush the bottom of the dish with a little butter. Lay out a sheet of filo on your work surface and brush with a little melted butter. Lay inside the baking dish; you want some overhanging. Repeat with half the filo, buttering each layer as you go. Spoon in the filling and even it out. Lay over the rest of pastry, brushing each sheet as before. Tuck in the edges and brush with butter to seal. Sprinkle with the poppy seeds. Bake for approx 40 mins, depending on your oven, until golden and crispy.

leek & smoked cheese pithivier

serves 4-6
Pithivier is a circular puff pastry pie with a curved pattern cut into it. You could add some sliced mushrooms to the leek mixture.

leek-and-cheese-pithivierknob of butter
1kg leeks, finely shredded
100g cream cheese
sea salt & ground black pepper
80g smoked cheddar cheese, grated
2 tbsp chopped chives
2 sheets ready rolled all-butter puff pastry (you need about 600g if making your own or rolling out a block; roll to about ½-¾cm)
1 egg yolk, mixed with a splash of milk

Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the leeks and cook gently for about 10 mins until soft. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Season well. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheddar and chives. Leave to cool completely. Roll out one piece of the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and use a dinner plate as a template to cut around to make a circle. Spread over the leek mixture, leaving a gap of 5cm all the way around the pastry circle. Roll out the other half of the pastry and lay over the top. Press the edges down to seal. Trim the edges. Brush with eggwash. Use a sharp knife to score curved lines on top of the pie and the edges. Bake at 180°C for about 30 mins, until the top is golden brown and the pastry cooked through. Serve warm.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic veg to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

12 veg of Christmas – 4 recipes for Christmas party canapés

Today’s post is not strictly-speaking a veg, but these taste too good to miss and canapés and Christmas are made for each other. Share some truly great eating among friends and family with these recipes from our lovely Riverford cook, Bob Andrew. Forget cocktail sausages – try our tomato bruschetta, parsnip blinis and stuffing bombs and celebrate cracking home-cooked organic food this festive period.

Parsnip blinis, Cropwell Bishop, walnuts & honey

makes 12
This is a strong contender to challenge the king of festive finger-food, blinis and smoked salmon. This is inspired by a salad of honeyed parsnips, blue cheese and walnuts that often appears on the Riverford Field Kitchen menu during the colder and darker months. It is a classic blini recipe, replacing one root vegetable with another.

parsnip-blinis3 Large parsnips
2 Large eggs, separated into yolks & whites
Dessert spoon of rice flour
30ml crème fraiche
30ml milk
Butter and olive oil
100g Cropwell Bishop or another good quality blue cheese
handful of toasted walnut halves.
1 tablespoon of honey
salt and pepper

Chop the parsnips into ½ inch chunks, removing any bits of core that feel woody. Sauté gently in a pan of butter and olive oil until nice and soft. Purée in a food processor, season with salt and pepper, leave to cool in the fridge. Mix the egg yolks, rice flour, cream and milk with the parsnip purée. Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold the egg whites gently into the parsnip mix trying, to preserve a much air as you can. Heat a frying pan of olive oil and butter until the butter starts to foam. Drop a few spoonfuls of the mix into the pan, smoothing each in to a 2-3 inch disc. Cook until golden brown on one side and flip over to finish the other. Cook in batches. To serve, top with some crumbled blue cheese, mix the walnuts into the honey and pop one on top. These blinds can be cooked and frozen well ahead of time. Defrost and warm through in a low pan or oven to refresh.

Tea-soaked prunes, crispy bacon & toasted almonds

makes 24
The prunes and their syrup also make a great accompaniment to your muesli or porridge for breakfast, or with rice pudding or warm custard for dessert, without the bacon of course.

tea-soaked-prunes24 good quality prunes
4 rashers of dry cured smoked bacon
24 whole almonds
1 earl grey tea bag
¼ of a cinnamon stick
1 clove
1 star anise
a thick strip of orange zest
100g brown sugar

To tea-soak the prunes, stir the sugar into 500ml of boiling water, add the prunes, spices and tea bag, and leave overnight. Cook the bacon, in a pan or in the oven, until crispy. Toast the almonds in the oven until golden brown. To serve, snap the bacon into 6 pieces. Cut a slit in the side of each prune, push a whole almond inside and jam in a shard of bacon. Slide a cocktail stick through the middle so your guests don’t get sticky fingers.

stuffing bombs

makes 20
Think of this as a cross between a scotch egg and arancini. If you’re making stuffing anyway just make a little extra for these nibbles. I recommend making 2-3 times the amount you think you’ll need; I’ve seen people push their loved ones aside to get to the last few.

stuffing-bombs500g of herby sausage-meat stuffing (we add 100g of coarse breadcrumbs soaked in milk, squeezed & added to 350g of sausage meat, the zest of one orange, 1 large red onion diced & cooked till soft, a couple of finely chopped dried apricots & some sage, thyme & parsley finely chopped.)
100g fresh mozzarella or other good melting cheese
1 cup of flour
2 eggs, beaten
200g panko breadcrumbs
sunflower oil for frying
salt and pepper

To make each one, take about 40g of the stuffing and press it in to a disc in the palm of your hand, break off a baked-bean-sized piece of mozzarella and push it into the middle and form the edges round in your hand so you end up with a ball of stuffing with the cheese in the middle. Roll into an even ball and repeat until it is all used up. To breadcrumb the balls, lay out 3 shallow bowls, put the flour in the first, the eggs in the second and the breadcrumbs in the third. One at a time dredge the ball in the flour, shake off the excess, dip and roll it in the eggs and drop into the breadcrumbs rolling and pressing until totally coated. Set to one side. Heat enough oil in a deep pan to deep fry with, bring slowly up to 180˚C. Deep-fry until golden brown and piping hot in the middle. Keep warm in an oven and serve on cocktail sticks.

tomato bruschetta

sourdough bread/ ciabatta
garlic
olive oil
tomatoes, diced
red onion, finely sliced
basil, shredded
balsamic vinegar

Grill some ciabatta or sourdough bread on both sides. Rub one side with a peeled clove of garlic and drizzle with good olive oil. Top with cherry tomatoes, red onion, basil, a little crushed garlic and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic veg to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

12 veg of Christmas – 5 swede recipes

swede-fieldGuy says
We sow our swedes around Midsummer’s Day on our more exposed fields that rise towards Dartmoor, giving slower growth and more flavour. By Christmas a good frost should have hit, which adds to the flavour; a little hardship always does.

swede, celeriac & carrots braised in olive oil

serves 4-6 as a side
This is a Turkish method, common along the Aegean coast, that’s used for cooking lots of different vegetables. The idea is to braise them slowly with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and a little sugar to concentrate and accentuate their natural flavours. It is definitely best served at room temperature, and preferably the next day. This recipe comes from Riverford Cook Anna, who likes it served as part of a mezze spread.

swede-celeriac-carrots½ large swede (about 500g)
½ large celeriac (about 500g)
2 large carrots (about 250g)
juice of 2 lemons, or to taste
125ml good olive oil
2 tsp sugar, or to taste
1½ tsp salt, or to taste
1 fresh bay leaf
4 peppercorns
leaves and tender stems from a bunch of parsley (about 30g), chopped
leaves and tender stems from a bunch of dill (about 30g), chopped

Scrub and peel the vegetables. Cut the carrots into thickish slices on a sharp angle. Cut the swede and celeriac into 1cm slices, and then into 1cm batons. Cut these into cubes or diamonds. Put the veg into a large, wide pan and add the lemon juice, olive oil, sugar, salt, bay leaf and peppercorns. Add cold water until they are almost but not quite submerged. Cover with baking paper pressed to the surface and a lid and set over a medium heat. When it comes to a simmer, turn the heat down and cook slowly for about 1 hour, until the vegetables are completely tender. Try to avoid stirring too much so that the vegetables hold their shape. Halfway through the cooking time, taste the braising liquid and decide if it needs more lemon, oil or seasonings. When the vegetables are done, lift them out with a slotted spoon into your serving dish and discard the bay leaf and peppercorns. With the pan uncovered, boil the braising liquid until reduced and syrupy. Taste it occasionally and stop it from boiling if it’s becoming too salty. Add the herbs to the liquid, then pour it over the vegetables and let cool. Serve at room temperature.

swede, leek & bacon gratin

serves 6-8
The leeks in this gratin could easily be replaced with boiled greens such as cabbage or kale. Leave out the bacon and it makes a flavoursome vegetarian main course.

100ml milk
500ml double cream
2 garlic cloves
1 large rosemary or thyme sprig
150g smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons
1–2 tbsp olive oil
3 leeks, white and pale green parts cut in rings
knob of butter (about 30g), plus extra to grease the gratin dish
1 swede, peeled and sliced paper thin (use a mandolin if you have one)
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 170°C/Gas 3. Put the milk, cream, garlic and rosemary or thyme in a pan over a low–medium heat. Slowly bring to a boil and then gently simmer for 5 minutes, being careful not to let it boil over. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Fry the bacon in the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat until really crispy. Add the leeks and a knob of butter and cook on a low heat for 20–30 minutes, until the leeks are soft and justswede-field4 beginning to caramelise. Season well with salt and pepper. Arrange half the sliced swede on the bottom of a greased gratin or shallow ovenproof dish and season. Add the sautéed leeks and then top with the remaining swede and season again. Press the layers down with the back of a spoon. Using a sieve, strain over the infused milk and cream mixture and cover the dish with foil. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour, until a blunt knife can be easily inserted through to the bottom. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes until the gratin is golden around the edges. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Variation
Top the gratin with a hard grating cheese such as Parmesan, Cheddar, pecorino or Gruyère and return to the oven for the last 10 minutes.

swede, leek & apple bake

serves 4, prep 10 mins, cook 75 mins

swede-leek-apple-bake25g butter, plus extra for greasing
2 leeks, finely shredded
4 large (or more smaller) sage leaves
75ml white wine or apple juice
1 swede (800g-1kg unpeeled weight), peeled, cut in half lengthways, then very finely sliced
2 apples, cored, halved & thinly sliced
50g cheddar, grated

Preheat your oven to 180˚C. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the leeks on a very low heat for 12 mins, stirring now and then. Add the sage and wine or juice. Cook for 2 mins. Season with salt and pepper. Layer the swede, apple and leeks in a baking dish, finishing with swede. Cover with foil and bake for 45 mins. Remove the foil, sprinkle with cheese and bake for 15 mins until golden.

roasted swede with maple syrup

Serve this with cooked gammon ham or ham hock, thick slices of bacon, or with roast meats.

1 swede, peeled & cut into roast potato sized chunks
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200˚C/Gas Mark 6. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a flameproof baking tray or large casserole dish over a hob; add the swede and coat with oil. Carefully drizzle over 3 tablespoons maple syrup and toss well. Be careful not to catch and burn the syrup. Bake in the oven turning at intervals for 45 mins until crisp and golden.

swedes

butter-browned braised swede

This way of cooking swede is simple but really good. For vegetarians it’s ideal with a nut roast, or serve with roast chicken, pork, gammon or ham slices.

½ a medium swede, peeled, halved lengthways and then into 1½cm thick slices
a knob of butter, approx 25g
500ml veg or chicken stock

Melt the butter in a pan that will fit the swede in one layer (a medium sized, fairly deep frying pan is ideal). Cook the swede on a medium to high heat for a few mins on each side, without stirring, until golden brown. Add the stock, bring to the boil and let the swede bubble away for 20-25 mins, until it is tender and the liquid reduced to a syrupy glaze. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic swede to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

12 days of Christmas – how to cook red cabbage

Guy says
red-cabbage-2Cabbage is a kitchen faithful with magnificent culinary potential. Cabbages are members of the brassica family and ancestors of cauliflowers and Brussels sprouts. The original kale-like sea cabbage from which today’s cultivars are descended is still found growing among the pebbles on our beaches, between the high-tide mark and the cliffs. Red cabbage is particularly good braised for a long time until soft and caramelised.

braised spiced red cabbage

This has all the appeal of classic spiced red cabbage but takes less than an hour to make rather than the usual three or four. Delicious with roast pork, sausages, duck or goose, or even with turkey for Christmas dinner.

braised-red-cabbage1 red cabbage, finely shredded
2 cooking apples, peeled, cored & chopped
1 onion, chopped
slug sunflower oil
around 5 allspice berries, roughly crushed, if you can find them – otherwise leave out
2 cloves
1 stick cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tbsp dark soft brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cider or red wine vinegar

Sweat spices, onions and apple in the oil in large heavy-based pan until beginning to soften. Add the bay leaf and cabbage and enough water to come about half way up the cabbage. Cover and turn up heat so cabbage is boiling, return to simmer and cook for 30-40 mins until cabbage is tender. By now the liquid should have reduced to about an inch in the bottom of the pan but if there is too much water left, uncover the pan and boil vigorously to reduce it further. Add in the vinegar, sugar and seasoning, taste and adjust so that you have a good balance of sweet and sour. Serve straight away or cool and reheat later. This dish also freezes very well.

quick scandi-style red cabbage

serves 4, prep 5 mins, cook 50 mins
Many red cabbage recipes take a good couple of hours to cook. This Scandinavian inspired recipe has lots of warm spicy flavour but takes less than half the time so, as well as serving alongside cold meats, it’s good for a mid-week supper. Try it with pork chops and creamy mashed potatoes with a little of our Riverford beer mustard stirred in.

scandi-style-red-cabbage1 tbsp rapeseed or sunflower oil
1 red onion, peeled & very thinly sliced
½ a large red cabbage, tough core & ribs removed, leaves finely shredded
3 juniper berries, bashed with the flat of your knife
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp caraway seeds
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
100ml red wine
2 tbsp cranberry sauce
1 good sized eating apple, cored & thinly sliced (no need to peel it)

Heat the oil in a large wide frying pan, wok or casserole, one with a lid (or you can cover the cabbage with a layer of foil instead). Add the onion and cabbage and fry for 10 mins on a low to medium heat, stirring now and then. Add the juniper, allspice, caraway, bay leaf, vinegar, wine and cranberry sauce. Season, cover and cook on a low heat for 20 mins. Add the apple and cook for a further 20 mins, stirring now and then to stop it catching. Check the seasoning before serving.

red cabbage, winter root & pomegranate slaw

serves 4, prep 10 mins, cook 0 mins
To get the seeds out of your pomegranate easily and without any bitter yellow pith, cut it in half crossways and use a rolling pin to bash each pomegranate half over a bowl, squeezing it slightly now and then so the seeds fall out. Odd bits of the pith might fall out too, but can easily be picked out.

red-cabbage-winter-root-pomegranate-slawjuice from ½ a lemon
1½ tbsp pomegranate molasses (readily available in shops, or use a little honey)
1 heaped tsp dijon mustard
4 tbsp good olive oil
¼ large red cabbage, tough core & thick ribs removed, leaves finely shredded
¼ large celeriac, or ½ a small one, peeled & cut into fine matchsticks
1 large carrot, peeled & cut into fine matchsticks
1 small or ½ a large red onion, peeled & very finely sliced
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
seeds from 1 pomegranate

Whisk the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, mustard and olive oil together in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cabbage, celeriac, carrot, onion, parsley and half the pomegranate seeds. Gently toss together. Taste and add more oil, lemon juice or seasoning to your preference. Sprinkle over the remaining pomegranate seeds to serve.

warm red cabbage salad with toasted walnuts & blue cheese

red-cabbage-salad-walnuts-blue-cheese75g walnut pieces
2 tbsp walnut oil
2 crisp red apples, cored &d cut into small pieces
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, quartered & thinly sliced
1 small red cabbage, shredded
100g blue cheese, crumbled (we use Devon Blue)
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tsp marjoram, chopped

Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Toss the walnuts with the walnut oil and some black pepper. Spread them out on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 5–7 mins. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Put the garlic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil in a frying pan and sauté over a medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the red onion and cook for 30 seconds, then add the cabbage and cook for a couple of mins until it begins to turn from red to pink. Season with salt and pepper. Finally add the cheese, apples, herbs and toasted walnuts. Toss well and serve.

red cabbage with prunes & chestnuts

8 prunes
140ml red wine
560g chestnuts, peeled
225g onions, sliced
1 red cabbage
2 cooking apples
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Soak prunes in wine for 4 hours, then stone and chop them. Bring chestnuts to the boil and simmer for 10 mins, cool and peel the inner layer. Preheat oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Cut onions, shred
the cabbage and slice the apples. Heat the oil, cook the onions until transparent, add the chestnuts, cabbage, prunes, wine and vinegar and bring to the boil Cover, put in the oven for 45 mins.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic red cabbage to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

12 veg of Christmas – 5 of the best potato recipes

Guy says
potatoesModern farming methods have not been kind to the humble potato. Intensively cultivated for high yield and fast growth, it’s been bred into staggering blandness, with generic offerings of ‘red’ and ‘white’ potatoes. We grow our potatoes slowly, choose our varieties judiciously and encourage you to savour their flavour and not consign them to use as a bulking item on your plate.

roast potatoes with lemon, rosemary and thyme

serves 6 as a side
Crisp and caramelised from roasting, tart and tangy from the lemons, this variation on traditional roast potatoes makes a particularly good side for chicken or fish, accompanied by a bitter leaf salad.

roast-potatoes-lemon-rosemary1.5kg fairly waxy potatoes (such as Marfona, Orla or Triplo), washed but not peeled, cut into halves or quarters, depending on size
2 lemons, cut into thick slices, plus an extra ½ lemon to finish
7–8 garlic cloves, unpeeled, lightly smashed
4 rosemary sprigs
6 thyme sprigs
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Put the potatoes into a pan of cold salted water, bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and let dry in a colander for a few minutes. Transfer to a roasting pan and scatter over the lemon slices, garlic, rosemary and thyme. Drizzle over the oil and toss together with your hands, making sure each potato is coated in oil. Season well with salt and pepper. Roast for 35–40 minutes, turning everything once or twice, until the lemons are starting to caramelise and the potatoes are golden brown. Squeeze over the extra lemon half, sprinkle with a little more salt and serve immediately.

Variations
* Small waxy potatoes such as pink fir apples and Charlottes can be halved lengthways, tossed with oil and salt and roasted from raw at 180°C/Gas 4.
* Toss the potatoes with a tablespoon of wholegrain mustard before roasting for more of a zing.

gratin dauphinoise

serves 6 as a side
Creamy or crusty? Waxy or floury potatoes? Everyone has their personal preference and there is certainly more than one way to make gratin dauphinois. The question of how to cook an authentic version was apparently so aggressively contested that Charles de Gaulle held a competition to determine the definitive recipe. Riverford Cook Anna learned this method from a Parisian chef, who assured her it was the real deal!

gratin-dauphinois50g butter
700ml whole milk
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 tsp fine salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1kg medium all-rounder potatoes, peeled and cut lengthways into 4–5mm thick slices
200ml double cream

Heat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4 and grease a gratin or shallow ovenproof dish (about 15 x 20cm) with half the butter. Put the milk, garlic, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a large pan and slowly bring to the boil. Add the potatoes, return to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, until half cooked. Using a slotted spoon, lift the potatoes from the milk into the dish. Discard the milk (or save it for another purpose). Shake the dish to distribute the potatoes evenly. Pour the cream over the potatoes and dot with the remaining butter. Bake uncovered for about an hour, until the potatoes are tender and a golden crust has formed. To make it easier to cut, let the gratin cool slightly before serving.

Variation
For something slightly less rich, layer the potatoes with 1 very finely sliced onion or leek and a few thyme leaves in a well-buttered gratin dish, seasoning each layer. Pour over 300ml chicken or veg stock (or a mix of half milk and half stock), dot with a little butter and bake for about 1 hour, or until the potatoes are cooked through. The top should be a little crispy, but if it is getting too brown before the potatoes are cooked, cover it loosely with foil.

rosemary & sherry baked chicken with saffron potatoes

serves 4

rosemary-sherry-baked-chicken-potatoes4 tbsp olive oil
8 chicken pieces – use a mix of thighs & drumsticks
knob of butter
900g potatoes, peeled & thickly sliced (1-2cm)
small pinch of saffron threads
½ tsp smoked sweet paprika
6 sprigs rosemary
4 bay leaves, roughly torn
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
200ml medium-dry sherry
sea salt & ground black pepper
small handful toasted flaked almonds (optional)

Heat the oil in a large shallow heat and flameproof casserole (or use a frying pan and transfer to a baking dish). Add the chicken and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate. Melt the butter in the same pan. Add the potatoes, saffron, paprika, rosemary, bay and garlic. Toss together. Lie the chicken pieces on top of the potatoes and pour over the sherry. Season. Bring to the boil, then transfer to the oven. Bake at 180°C for 45 mins, until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are tender. Sprinkle over the almonds if using.

celeriac & potato mash

celeriac
potatoes
milk
butter

Cook as you would mashed potato but add one 1/3 to 2/3 as much celeriac as potato. The celeriac cooks faster and so should be added once the potatoes have come to the boil. Great with sausages and savoy cabbage or cavalo nero.

parsnip & potato cakes

350g potatoes, peeled & diced
700g parsnips, peeled & diced
oil for frying
1 large onion, peeled & finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled & crushed or finely chopped
knob of butter, about 20g
4 tbsp milk
a good grating of fresh nutmeg
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1-2 eggs, beaten
120g fresh breadcrumbs

In a pan of salted boiling water, cook the potatoes, then the parsnips, until just tender (the potatoes will take about 10 mins, parsnips about 7). Drain. While the potatoes are cooking, heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large pan, add the onion and fry for a few mins until soft. Add the garlic and fry for another couple of mins. Put the potatoes, parsnips, butter, milk and nutmeg in a large bowl and season, then mash together before stirring in the onion and parsley. Set aside until cool. Put the eggs and breadcrumbs in separate shallow bowls. Take about 1 tablespoon of the potato/parsnip mix and use your hands to press it into a pattie shape. Dip it in the egg and then the breadcrumbs to coat and repeat until all the mixture is used. Add a little oil to a non-stick frying pan and fry the cakes, in batches, until golden on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm in a low oven until you are ready to serve.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic potatoes to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

12 veg of Christmas – parsnip and roast parsnip recipes

Guy says
Before the arrival of cane sugar in Europe, parsnips were used as a sweetener for jams and cakes. Once sugar was introduced along with potatoes, some countries were pretty quick to relegate them to the category of cattle fodder. But the Brits kept them on as a significant commercial crop, and they are still one of the joys of winter: sweet, cheap and easy to cook. Parsnips are also slow to grow, which is good because their best flavour comes once we’ve had a few hard frosts – these unquestionably improve their sweetness, as part of the starch converts to sugar.

parsnipsParsnips have soft, porous skins and lose moisture faster than most other root veg. It’s best to leave the mud on as a protective coat. Store them somewhere cool and dark, or in a paper bag in the bottom of the fridge, and they’ll keep for a good 2–3 weeks. Usually you can use the whole vegetable, though late in the season (late February) the core might start getting a little tough, in which case quarter the parsnip lengthways and cut it out.

parsnip skordalia

serves 4-6 as a side or dip
Skordalia is a Greek side dish of potatoes and garlic whipped into a dip, thickened with stale bread or nuts and spiked with lemon. This parsnip version is good warm with lamb or mushrooms, or at room temperature as a dip for pitta bread. Parsnips are less likely to go gluey than potatoes when blended. The pungency of raw garlic is all part of the appeal in the original dish, but we recommend you add it a little at a time and taste.

parsnip=skordalia1kg parsnips, peeled and chopped into even sized chunks
1 bay leaf
400ml milk
60g fresh breadcrumbs
80g flaked almonds, lightly toasted
3–4 garlic cloves, crushed
80ml good olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt

Put the parsnips into a pan with the bay leaf and cover with the milk. Bring gently to the boil and simmer for 15–20 minutes, until very soft. Strain the parsnips, reserving the milk. Put the parsnips into a food processor with a dash of the milk and blend until smooth. Add the breadcrumbs, almonds and half the garlic and blend while adding the olive oil in a steady stream. Add half the lemon juice and a good pinch of salt. Check the seasoning and add more garlic, lemon juice and salt as you wish. If the mix is stiffer than you want, add a little more of the warm milk to loosen it.

Variations
* This dish can be warmed up with a little bit of spice. A clove or two added to the milk when you cook the parsnips works well (remove before you blend), as does a teaspoon of freshly ground cumin.
* If the punch of raw garlic is too much for you, take the edge off by adding the peeled garlic cloves to the milk and simmering them with the parsnips.
* Replace the almonds with toasted and skinned hazelnuts.

roasted parsnips with date & tamarind dressing

serves 4, prep 5 mins, cook 1 hour

parsnip-date-tamarind1 tbsp tamarind paste
½ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp coriander seeds
50g pitted dates, finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded & finely chopped
½ tsp freshly grated ginger
500g parsnips, peeled & cut in half if small or chunks if larger
oil
1 lime

Put the parsnips in a baking dish and toss in just enough oil to coat. Season well. Roast at 190˚C for 45 mins-1 hour, until tender and browned (caramelised bits are a good thing with parsnips). Put the tamarind paste in a small heatproof bowl. Pour over 2 tbsp boiling water and leave for 15 mins. Meanwhile, put the fennel and coriander seeds in a small dry pan. Heat gently for a min or two, until you can just smell them, then grind in a pestle and mortar. Sieve the tamarind mixture and put the drained liquid in a small saucepan. Add the ground seeds, dates, chilli, ginger and 250ml water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and bubble for 10 mins. Blitz in a blender until smooth. Squeeze some lime juice over the parsnips, then drizzle with the dressing. You can keep any leftover dressing in the fridge or freeze it.

parsnip, Brussels sprout and bacon potato cakes

serves 4
This is a jazzed-up version of bubble and squeak and can be adapted to finish up all sorts of leftover vegetables, though parsnips, sprouts and bacon is a particularly satisfying combination. A poached or fried egg or sausages would be a good addition.

parsnip-sprout-bacon-potato-cakes200g parsnips, peeled and cut into even-sized pieces (alternatively, you could use leftover boiled, steamed or roasted parsnips)
3 tbsp olive oil
300–400g potatoes, peeled and cut into even-sized pieces
200g Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed
8 rashers smoked streaky bacon, finely sliced
polenta flour (or use ordinary plain flour), for dusting
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Toss the parsnips with salt, pepper and about a tablespoon of the oil. Spread over an oven tray and roast for about 40 minutes, until soft and beginning to caramelise. Remove, allow to cool then roughly chop. While the parsnips are roasting, boil the potatoes in salted water until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain well and mash while warm. Keep your mash as dry as possible so that the cakes hold together; if it seems wet stir it over a low heat for a few minutes.
Cook the sprouts in plenty of salted boiling water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well and cut into quarters. Fry the bacon over a medium–high heat with a drizzle of oil in a large frying pan (preferably non-stick) until really crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Keep the oil left in the pan to fry the cakes. Mix all the veg with the bacon and season with salt and pepper. Dust your hands with flour then mould the mixture into burgersized patties. Add the remaining oil to the frying pan, place over a medium heat and fry the cakes in batches until they are golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Add more oil to the pan if you need it. If the first cakes have cooled down by the time you have fried the last, you can reheat them all in the oven for 5–10 minutes, until piping hot.

Variations
* Replace the parsnips with roasted beetroot or squash for striking coloured alternatives.
* Use raw grated apples instead of bacon for a vegetarian option.
* Experiment with your greens: try cabbage or kale.

parsnip & beer mustard gratin

serves 4, prep 10 mins, cook 1 hour 15 mins
Good on its own, or serve with greens and crusty bread for a vegetarian supper. It works well as a side for pork too.

parsnip-beer-mustard-gratinbutter for greasing
300ml milk
250ml cream
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
800g parsnips, peeled & sliced into thin rounds
2 tbsp Riverford beer mustard
a little freshly grated nutmeg
small handful dried breadcrumbs
small handful freshly grated parmesan (or cheddar if vegetarian)

Preheat your oven to 180˚C/160˚C fan/gas 4. Lightly grease a medium sized gratin/baking dish with a little butter. Put the milk, cream, garlic and thyme leaves in a pan. Grate in a little fresh nutmeg, then warm gently. Layer the parsnips in the baking dish. Stir the mustard into the warm milk mixture. Season with salt and pepper, then pour over the parsnips. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover, sprinkle over the cheese and breadcrumbs, then bake for approx 15 mins until golden.

parsnip, coconut, lime & ginger cake

serves 12, prep 15 mins, cook 35 mins

parsnip-coconut-cake2 large eggs
100g soft light brown sugar
75ml sunflower oil, plus a little extra for greasing the tin
200g parsnips (grated weight), approx 4 small or 2 large
100g self-raising flour
3 balls stem ginger, finely chopped
1 good tsp ground ginger
50g dessicated coconut
75g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
zest from 1 lime

Grease an 18cm round cake tin with a little oil on a piece of kitchen paper. Line it with baking parchment. Put the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat until thick and creamy (a hand held mixer really helps). Gradually whisk in the oil. Fold in the rest of the ingredients. Transfer the mixture to the tin and level it gently with your wooden spoon. Bake at 190˚C for 30-35 mins, until cooked through. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic parsnips to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

12 veg of Christmas – 5 Christmas leek recipes

Guy says
leeksOur leeks are pulled, stripped and trimmed by hand. Surviving the grim hardship of a January day spent bent over in a windswept field with 5 kilos of mud clinging to each boot also requires a zen-like quality possessed by only a small minority. I reckon the pickers deserve to be paid more than bankers but I’m not sure we would sell many leeks if they were. The winter-hardy varieties ready at Christmas tend to be shorter and stouter with darker leaves, and arguably they taste better for the climatic hardship they have experienced.

Prep
Leeks tend to harbour a bit of mud. If you have only one to clean, cut it in half lengthways, leaving the root base intact. Hold each half under the cold tap, root end up, fanning out the leaves with your fingers. For a bigger batch, it’s easier to slice the leeks first: cut off the root base and the dark green top and use the white and paler green section. Let the rings soak for a few minutes in a bowl of cold water so the dirt sinks, then drain in a colander.

Riverford leek & smoked cheese pithivier

Pithivier is a circular puff pastry pie with a curved pattern cut into it. You could add some sliced mushrooms to the leek mixture.

leek-pithivierknob of butter
1kg leeks, finely shredded
100g cream cheese
sea salt & ground black pepper
80g smoked cheddar cheese, grated
2 tbsp chopped chives
2 sheets ready rolled all-butter puff pastry (you need about 600g if making your own or rolling out a block; roll to about ½-¾cm)
1 egg yolk, mixed with a splash of milk

Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the leeks and cook gently for about 10 mins until soft. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Season well. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheddar and chives. Leave to cool completely. Roll out one piece of the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and use a dinner plate as a template to cut around to make a circle. Spread over the leek mixture, leaving a gap of 5cm all the way around the pastry circle. Roll out the other half of the pastry and lay over the top. Press the edges down to seal. Trim the edges. Brush with eggwash. Use a sharp knife to score curved lines on top of the pie and the edges. Bake at 180°C for about 30 mins, until the top is golden brown and the pastry cooked through. Serve warm.

leeks with garlic cream & tarragon

serves 4-6 as a side

leek-cream-tarragonknob of butter
2 large leeks, trimmed & washed
2 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
125ml double cream
handful tarragon leaves, chopped

 

 

Halve the leeks lengthways, and slice into 1cm slices at an angle. Gently heat the butter in a saucepan add the leeks, season and cook on a low heat for 15-20 mins until soft, tender but not coloured. Place the garlic in a small pan with the cream and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for 10 mins until the garlic has cooked, and the cream has reduced and thickened. Fold into the leeks, adjust the seasoning and add the chopped tarragon.

lemony leeks

serves 4-6 as a side
A sweet and sour poaching liquor can simply lift humble vegetables to a new level. This would work equally well with cauliflower, romanesco, or carrots. You’re looking for a good mix of sweet and sour, so tweak the lemon and sugar to taste.

600g leeks, trimmed
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed or chopped
2 lemons
100ml good olive oil
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp dried dill

Peel off any tough or muddy outer leaves from the leeks and chop into 5cm lengths. Soak in a bowl of cold water to remove any grit, turning now and then, and rinse. Put the olive oil, garlic, 1 tbsp of the sugar, the lemon juice and 300ml water in a pan. Add the leeks and gently toss together and bring to a simmer over a medium heat for approx. 15 mins, or until the leeks are soft. Add a splash more water if needs be to stop them drying out. Stir the parsley and dill into the cooked leeks. Check the seasoning and adjust sugar, lemon juice or salt while the leeks are still warm to give a good mix of sweet and sour. Serve the leeks on a platter or in a large bowl, with the poaching liquor spooned over the top. For a more intense flavour, reduce the liquor down a little before pouring it over.

leek and feta fritters

serves 4
A very moreish starter or light lunch with a bitter leaf salad. The dip includes sumac, a deep-red, lemony spice used a lot in Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s increasingly available in supermarkets, but if you can’t find it, use a little extra lemon juice and a couple of grinds of pepper instead.

for the fritters:
3 leeks, washed, trimmed and finely sliced
25g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large eggs
50g crème fraîche
70g self-raising flour
30g gram (chickpea) flour (or just use a total of 100g self-raising flour)
1 tsp baking powder
80g feta, crumbled
small bunch of tarragon, leaves chopped
cayenne pepper
dash of milk (if necessary)
sunflower oil, for frying
salt and black pepper

for the dip:
zest and juice of ½ lemon
150g crème fraîche
sumac (or see introduction for alternative)
lemon wedges, to serve

Heat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Lightly fry the leeks in the butter and oil in a frying pan over a medium heat until starting to soften, about 7 minutes. Whisk the eggs and crème fraîche until light and starting to increase in volume. Sift in the self-raising flour, gram flour, if using, and baking powder and gently mix into a batter. Fold in the leeks, feta and tarragon. Add a pinch of cayenne and some salt and pepper. You should have a consistency that will drop slowly from a spoon. If too dry, add a dash of milk; too wet, add a pinch of flour. Pour oil into a frying pan to a depth of about 5mm and heat until a test teaspoonful of batter sizzles immediately. Using a spoon, add three or four separate dollops of batter to the pan. Push each one with the back of the spoon until you have small patties about 8cm across. Cook until golden, about 3–4 minutes on each side. Remove the cooked fritters to a baking tray and repeat until you have used up the batter. You may need to heat up fresh oil between batches if it starts to run dry. When all are done, place the fritters in the oven for 10–12 minutes to warm through. Meanwhile, make the dip. Mix the lemon zest into the crème fraîche with a pinch of salt and add the lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle liberally with sumac and serve with the lemon wedges.

Variations
* Add chopped, fried crispy bacon to the batter, or replace the feta with cooked, shredded chicken.
* Instead of tarragon use dill or mint.

leek and Parmesan tart

serves 4-6
The secret of this recipe lies in cooking the leeks long and slow, so that they become sweetly caramelised. The rest takes no time at all and you can exercise your imagination adding extra toppings.

leek-parmesan-tart3–4 tbsp olive oil, or 50g butter
6 large leeks, washed, dried and thinly sliced
bunch of thyme, tied with string
1 x 300g ready-rolled sheet all-butter puff pastry
25g Parmesan (or vegetarian equivalent), finely grated
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Heat the oil or butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the leeks and thyme. Slow-fry the leeks until they are very soft and starting to brown, a good 10–15 minutes. Cover the pan initially to help them sweat, then take off the lid halfway through so the liquid evaporates. Stir at intervals to stop them catching. Season with salt and pepper then cool. Meanwhile, lay out your pastry flat on a lightly greased non-stick baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until it has completely puffed up and is golden brown. (Check the bottom of the pastry is cooked too.) Flatten the pastry back down by covering it evenly with the leek mixture, leaving 5mm around the edge. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and any other toppings (see suggestions below) and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Serve warm.

Variations
* Onions work as a replacement for or combined with the leeks.
* Experiment with extra toppings, just like a pizza: try anchovies, olives or different cheeses, such as mozzarella or goat’s cheese.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic leeks to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

12 veg of Christmas – 5 cauliflower recipes

Guy says
After years in the culinary doldrums, condemned by sulphurous memories of sccauliflower-4hool dinners, cauliflower is back; and quite rightly so. Treated kindly, this sturdy brassica is fit for a feast and is much prized in Italy, Asia and Africa – in fact most places apart from where it grows best: in the UK. Cauliflowers love our damp, mild maritime climate, particularly in the mild West. Here are a few options for making the most of it over Christmas.

5 of the best cauliflower recipes:

cauliflower, butterbeans & kale

Serves 2
A robust winter salad, this is best served warm or at room temperature so that the flavours from the dressing have a chance to infuse. For a heartier meal, eat with slices of cold roast beef or topped with a sizzling pork chop.

cauliflower-butter-beans-and-kale200g cooked butter beans
1 cauliflower, cut into small florets
100g red Russian kale, blanched, squeezed and roughly chopped
1 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
leaves from a small bunch of tarragon or flat-leaf
parsley, roughly chopped
wholegrain mustard, to taste
vinaigrette, to taste
salt and black pepper

If you are cooking the beans yourself, add a good pinch of salt when they have become tender and let them sit in their cooking water for 30 minutes off the heat. If using tinned, heat them gently but thoroughly in their liquid and a dash of water. Lightly steam or boil the cauliflower. Drain the beans and put them into a bowl with the cauliflower, kale, capers, herbs, a generous blob of mustard and a good drizzle of vinaigrette and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Variation
This is a great way to use up leftover or tinned pulses; lentils and flageolet and haricot beans will all work well – or for a more varied texture try a combination of all three.

roasted cauliflower with butter, lemon and cumin

serves 4 as a side
The cumin gives this dish an Indian feel but the spicing is so subtle that it works in the most traditional of meals. The flavour combination suits roasted parsnips too.

roasted-cauliflower-with-butter-and-lemon1 cauliflower, split into florets
zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus the juice of another
80g butter, diced
2 rounded tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground (or 2 tsp ready-ground cumin)
handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5. Season the cauliflower with salt and pepper and spread it out in a roasting tin. Roast in the oven for 12–15 minutes until lightly golden. Cover with foil if it’s browning too much. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir in the butter, cumin and lemon zest and roast for a further 3–5 minutes, until tender but so it still has bite. Remove the tin from the oven and stir in the parsley, then add the remaining lemon juice a little at a time to taste.

Variations
• For extra spiciness add 1 teaspoon of ground coriander and nigella (black onion) seeds with the cumin.
• Replace the cumin with dried or fresh thyme leaves.
• Swap the cumin for chopped garlic and chilli flakes (or chopped fresh chilli) and the parsley for fresh coriander leaves.

whole roasted cauliflower with almonds & garlic

serves 4

whole-roasted-cauliflower1 cauliflower
olive oil for roasting
sea salt & ground black pepper
50g flaked almonds
4 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
1 tbsp dry sherry
3 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped

Cut off any green leaves from the cauliflower and trim the core so it sits flat in a baking dish. Drizzle over just enough oil to cover the top of the cauliflower. Sprinkle over a little sea salt. Roast at 200°C until the top is golden brown and the cauliflower is just tender, about 1 hour. Keep it warm in the oven. Put the almonds in a frying pan and heat gently until toasted. Add the oil and garlic and fry for a min or two. Add the paprika and dry sherry and cook to reduce the liquid slightly. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Present the cauliflower whole at the table, then cut into thin slices and drizzle over the almonds to serve.

saffron poached chicken with cauliflower couscous, dates & pine nuts

serves 4, prep 15 mins, cook 20 mins

saffron-poached-chick-and-cauliflower½ tsp saffron threads
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 stick celery, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
4 chicken breasts, skin removed

for the couscous:
1 small cauliflower, outer leaves removed, cut into florets
1 garlic clove, crushed
large handful finely chopped parsley
small handful finely chopped mint
100g pine nuts, toasted in a dry frying pan until golden
200g dates, pitted & chopped
1 tbsp sherry or good white wine vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp good olive oil
1 tbsp honey
100g mixed winter salad leaves

Put the saffron, carrot, celery and bay leaves in a saucepan. Add 1½ litres water, bring to a simmer and add the chicken (make sure it is completely covered with water). Simmer for approx 30 mins, until cooked. Leave to cool in the pan, then take the chicken out and tear or chop into pieces. Pulse the cauli in a food processor until it looks like couscous (or chop very finely if you don’t have a processor). Transfer to a large bowl. Mix in the garlic, herbs, pine nuts and dates. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk together the vinegar, lemon, oil and honey and mix into the cauliflower. Toss in the chicken. Taste and adjust the seasoning, lemon and oil if needed. Serve with the salad leaves.

gluten-free cauliflower & almond gratin

serves 4 as a main course, 6 or more as a side dish, prep 10 mins, cook 45 mins
Keep the lighter green leaves on your cauliflower for colour and flavour. Serve with rice or quinoa and cooked kale or cabbage, or roasted roots. Using a whisk to make any béchamel or cheese sauce is easier and gets a smoother result than stirring with a spoon.

caulifloer-and-almond-gratin1 large cauli, cut in ½ then each ½ into 6-8 large wedges, keeping the stalk & any lighter inner leaves intact
50g butter
50g rice flour (or use another starchy gluten-free flour, eg. potato)
500ml unsweetened almond milk
100g grated cheddar cheese, plus a little extra for sprinkling
1 heaped tsp dijon mustard (check it doesn’t have any gluten, some do)
2 small handfuls flaked almonds

Preheat your oven to 220˚C/200˚C fan/gas mark 6. Steam or boil the cauliflower and leaves for 4 mins. Drain and put to one side, so any excess moisture evaporates off. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan. Add the flour and stir on a very low heat for 2 mins. Remove from the heat, add 3-4 tbsp of the almond milk and whisk together to make a thick smooth paste. Gradually add the rest of the milk, whisking all the time, until the sauce is smooth. Return to the heat, add the cheese and gently heat for a few mins, until the cheese has melted and the sauce thickened. Stir in the mustard and season to taste. Put the cauli in a baking dish. Pour over the sauce and sprinkle over a little extra cheese. Bake for 15 mins. Sprinkle over the almonds and bake for a further 10-15 mins or so, until the almonds are golden.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic cauliflower to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.