This gorgeous image is © Janie Pirie 2012. Used with permission
Growing up in the tropics there wasn’t a lot of fresh beetroot around and I’ve enjoyed the abundance of this vegetable during my time in Canada, creating many delicious salads and experimenting with lacto-fermentation (not a huge fan, I prefer fermented carrots) and dishes such as borscht.
This recipe is super simple and can be made ahead of time; in fact I think it tastes better of the flavours have some time to meld before serving.
- 1.5 cups beetroot (about 2 smallish beets)
- 1.5 cups carrot (about 2 medium carrots)
- 1/3 cup red onion (about 1/4 of an onion)
- 1.5 tbsp miso paste
- 3 tbsp tahini
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup fresh coriander
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 3-4 tbsp toasted sunflower seeds (optional)
- Grate beetroot and carrot.
- Finely chop the fresh coriander and red onion.
- Mix the vegetables together in your serving bowl.
- In a smaller bowl measure the miso paste and add a couple of tablespoons of the warm water; mix until evenly blended.
- Add the tahini and stir well before adding the rest of the water and stirring until the dressing has an even consistency.
- Pour the dressing over the vegetables and coriander and mix until well combined.
- Stir the sesame oil through.
- Let the salad sit for at least 20 minutes and sprinkle with toasted sunflower seeds before serving.
We didn’t have any chickpeas in the house the other day so after a quick search of the internet and the assurance that it wouldn’t be a complete disaster I thought I’d try a buckwheat hummus instead.
Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) isn’t actually a grain (i.e. a grass) at all but actually a fruit/nut. It’s easy to grow and supposedly fairly simple to harvest on a small scale although last year it didn’t feel that easy and in the end if fell off the to do list but perhaps that was the variety we were growing. It’s packed full of protein with up to a 74% protein absorption rate and has a good balance of amino acids. All this in addition to its versatility in the kitchen (I’ve used it in muesli, cooked up with vegies, added to soups and now hummus) means it’s definitely something that should be in the pantry.
- 1 cup soaked/sprouted buckwheat
- 1 large clove garlic
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Soak the buckwheat for a day/overnight then rinse and drain in a colander. If you have time then let it sit in the colander for another day or so rinsing a couple of times. This gives the kernels a little more time to sprout.
- Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Add some water if you find the consistency is too thick.
It turned out surprisingly well. I omitted the cumin I normally include in chickpea hummus and it was still tasty but of course I’d love to know of any particular spice combinations that work with buckwheat.
This is adapted from a recipe at Get RaWcous!
A bonus for me as an intern last year was a copy of Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz and over the summer it was my little bible for fermenting just about anything I could get my hands on. Katz delves into the historic significance of fermentation, something that is practised by most cultures around the globe, as well as briefly examining the science of live cultures. He also looks at the health benefits of live cultured foods and why ferments have gone out of fashion as our food system increasingly relies on mass production and standardization.
All the fermented foods we find commonly are listed, with recipes for sauerkraut, sourdough, beer and wine featured, but there’s also a host of lesser known cultures such as amazaké (sweet Japanese rice drink), injera (spongy Ethiopian flat bread) and kombucha (sweetened tea fermented with a SCOBY – symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast) covered as well. A basic list of resources is included for obtaining cultures that won’t just happen to be hanging around like the koji mould, Aspergillus oryzae, needed to make miso. Experimentation is strongly encouraged and fermenting can be a pretty exciting process; flavours develop over time, you can taste as you go and if you’re like me and don’t really follow recipes that strictly, every jar tastes different.
Over the course of the season I mostly used lacto-fermentation, one of the simplest fermentation methods (vegetables + brine + time) that can be ready in less than two weeks, for a few batches of kimchi and innumerable jars of mixed vegetables. Just before I left Quebec we put a batch of elderberry wine on using elderberries found on an urban forage – thanks to the Gatineau council for planting elderberry in public spaces we were able to harvest just enough for the recipe – but there are many recipes I plan to try in the future.
I found fermenting to be an easy process with tasty results and I’d encourage anyone whose ever thought about it to give it a try; it can be as simple as filling a jar and letting nature go!
More commonly known as Lamb’s Quarters, Chenopodium Album, is yet another common weed found at the farm and now that the dandelions are no longer flowering and the nettle is past its most tender stage, I’ve noticed it coming up in abundance.
It can be used as a salad green or in place of spinach if you want it cooked. Young plants are the best to use and it keeps pretty well in the fridge in a plastic bag. I’ve been making bread on a weekly basis so it was logical to create a spread; the recipe below was adapted from Mariquita Farm who based that on a recipe from The Wild Vegan Cookbook and is similar to a pesto.
Lamb’s Quarter Spread
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups lamb’s-quarters leaves
1 small ripe avocado
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
2 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
1 tsp maple syrup
Dash olive oil
Blend all ingredients in a food processor until well mixed. Eat any way you please – on sandwiches, as a dip, topping for sautéed portobello mushrooms; use your imagination.
Don’t be fooled – dandelions are food!
Dandelions are the most abundant weed at Chelsea Gardens and I’ve recently been munching on the bright yellow flower heads while at work. A friend recently cooked up a tasty dandelion loaf – see recipe below – and although I’d never thought about cooking with it there are plenty of recipes online from dandelion jelly to fritters or frittata so I’ll be doing plenty of experimentation over the next few weeks.
Jodie’s Vegan Dandelion Bread
- 1 cups plain (all purpose) flour
- 1 cup wholemeal (whole wheat) flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups dandelion flowers (just the yellow part)
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tbsp psyllium husk mixed with 6 tbsp water (mix and let sit a couple minutes)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
Preheat oven to 205’C (400’F)
Grease a loaf pan.
Mix flour, sugar, flowers, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together.
Add water, vegetable oil, psyllium/water mix and vanilla essence and mix until combined; mix should be fairly thick.
Pour into loaf tin and bake for about 30 mins or until cooked through.