At Thompson & Morgan, we’re passionate about growing our own food. But sowing, growing and nurturing delicious produce is only half of the story. Harvesting, preparing and eating these vitamin-packed wonder foods is just as important, right?
This year, 10 – 16 May is National Vegetarian Week. To celebrate, we asked our favourite green fingered bloggers to share their best vegetarian plot-to-plate recipes. Here are some of their ideas and delicious serving suggestions to help you make the most of your fresh fruit and veg.
Richard’s tomato and coconut curry
Richard, from The Veg Grower Podcast, loves a good curry, and this is one of his favourites. A great way of using a tower of homegrown tomatoes, it’s so tasty that people don’t miss the meat!
- A splash of olive oil
- 1 onion peeled and chopped.
- A thumb sized piece of ginger peeled and chopped.
- 3 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped.
- 1 chilli chopped. (I used a scotch bonnet from my greenhouse which is fairly hot. However use any chilli that you would like)
- 1 tin of coconut milk.
- 1 vegetable stock cube.
- 1kg of tomatoes.
- 1 tablespoon curry powder.
- Gently sweat the chopped onion in the olive oil.
- After a minute or so, add the ginger, garlic and chilli. Gently stir for a couple of minutes until softened.
- Add the coconut milk and crumble in the stock cube. Stir to blend.
- Add the tomatoes and curry powder.
- Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Serve with cooked rice.
Richard’s top tip: “I’ve also served this curry with cauliflower rice. Simply take a cauliflower and blitz it up in a blender. Boil the cauliflower ‘rice’ for a few minutes, drain and serve.”
Jane’s fried halloumi with lentils and sweet chilli
Jane, who blogs about food and craft at Onions and Paper may not even know that her famous fried halloumi recipe is being featured here, as it was sent to us by her lovely husband Mark! Let’s call it a team effort though, as Marks Veg Plot provides the homegrown produce for Jane’s gourmet prowess!
- 100g small green or brown lentils (e.g Puy lentils)
- 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 150g Halloumi cheese, cut into 4 slices
- Generous dash of chilli oil
- 2 x tbsp Sweet Chilli sauce
- 2 x tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
- Cook the lentils, onion and carrot in plain, unsalted water until tender.
- Drain the lentils, and while still warm, add the chilli oil, and season to taste.
- Meanwhile, fry the sliced halloumi in the sunflower oil, turning at least once, until nicely soft, brown and bubbly. (This only takes about 5 minutes.)
- Arrange the lentils on plates and top with the halloumi.
- Drizzle the sweet chilli sauce over the cheese.
- Serve with a nice salad – we had a Tabbouleh made with herbs from the garden (mostly mint and parsley), and a (deliberately!) burnt shallot and tomato salad with watercress.
Jane’s top tip: “Don’t use commercial stock to cook your lentils. It often contains a lot of salt and this prevents the lentils softening.”
Belinda’s smoked ‘salmon’ carrot lox
As Belinda of Plot 7 Marsh Lane blog hasn’t eaten meat for about 30 years, she can’t be sure if this tastes more like smoked salmon or bacon, but it’s a tasty and unusual way to transform a humble carrot! She first came across this recipe back in 2017 via Shaheen’s Allotment2Kitchen blog.
- 360g sea salt
- 3 large washed carrots
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke
- ½ teaspoon white wine vinegar
- Line a 1lb loaf tin with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Tip half of the sea salt into the loaf tin, lay the carrots on top and sprinkle with the remaining salt.
- Cover the loaf tin with foil and place in the oven for about an hour.
- Remove, and allow the carrots to cool on a chopping board.
- When cool enough to handle, brush away any excess salt, using it to help peel off any loose skin.
- Finely slice the carrots into long, thin strips using a mandolin, and transfer to a glass container with a lid.
- In a small bowl, make the marinade by whisking together the oil, liquid smoke and vinegar.
- Pour over the carrots, pop on the lid, and leave in the fridge for 2-3 days for the flavours to develop.
- Serve on warm bagels with vegetarian cream cheese.
Belinda’s top tip: “I’d probably add a little more smoke to the marinade and use a little less salt next time.”
Claire’s summer pasta sauce
According to Claire over at Sowing at the Stoop, this delicious pasta sauce is a firm family favourite that uses up any gluts of precious produce whilst completely capturing the taste of summer. What’s more – it’s super simple too!
- Fresh basil
- Roughly chop all of the veg and pop it into a roasting tin with some chopped garlic. Spray with a little oil and add a pinch of sea salt and pepper.
- Put the tray into the oven at 180°C and roast for 30 minutes.
- When cooked, use a hand blender to blitz the roasted veg and add some freshly picked basil.
- Add to cooked pasta. We love it with penne.
Claire’s top tip: “This is ideal on a meat-free night but it also tastes great over oven roasted cod. It freezes really well too, so even after summer is long gone, you can still get that fresh flavour of home grown veg!”
Hazel’s crowd-pleasing cauliflower cheese
Mother of four, Hazel from The Newhouse Family blog, knows how to cook up a tasty storm to please a large family. This green-living bunch don’t like to waste a thing, so the tip for adding homemade breadcrumbs is about more than just texture.
- 1 cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine
- 4 tablespoons of plain flour
- 500 mls of milk
- 100g cheddar cheese (you can add more if you like a really cheesy sauce!)
- Take your cauliflower and break it up into pieces. You’ll want a nice mix of large chunks and some smaller pieces.
- Boil the cauliflower for 5-10 minutes until cooked, but still firm. Drain and leave to one side.
- Grate the cheese into a bowl.
- To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan, stirring continuously. Sprinkle in the flour and mix into the melted butter to form a paste.
- Slowly add the milk, stirring rapidly continuously with a whisk.
- Add ¾ of the grated cheese to the sauce, whilst stirring quickly with the whisk to eliminate any lumps.
- Tip the cauliflower into a large dish. Pour over the cheese sauce. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top.
- Place into a hot oven for around 20 minutes, until the cauliflower cheese is bubbling and the grated cheese on top has browned a little.
Hazel’s top tip: “We like to use homegrown cauliflowers as they have the best flavour. When you sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top, just before popping the dish in the oven, try adding breadcrumbs and a little salt and pepper as well.”
Kev’s beetroot tart
Is there a better match for gloriously sweet beets than salty white feta? Kev from An English Homestead says his beetroot tart is even more impressive when made with a variety of different coloured beetroots that you’ve obviously grown yourself!
- Various fresh beets
- Puff pastry (ready made is fine!)
- Balsamic vinegar
- Feta cheese
- Boil the beets in a pan of salted water until they just start to soften.
- Remove from the water, roughly slice and lay in a roasting dish.
- Drizzle the beets with a little olive oil, a good slug of balsamic vinegar, and some sea salt.
- Lay a sheet of puff pastry over the top and pop in the oven for about 25 minutes until golden and puffed up.
- Remove from the oven, place a large platter or chopping board on the roasting dish and turn it over, so that the tart is removed and the right way up.
- Crumble good quality feta over the top and bring to the table while still warm.
Kev’s top tip: “The tart is also nice cold, so perfect for a lunch box the next day if you have any left over!”
Sides and small plates
Michelle’s zingy tzatziki
Low fat doesn’t necessarily mean boring, as Michelle over at Veg Plotting found when she came up with this delicious way to use up her glut of cucumbers. Her recipe makes a cool and refreshing lunch for one, or a perfect side dish for two alongside a main meal or BBQ.
- 1 small cucumber, diced (include the seeds if desired)
- 4-5 large teaspoons of Skyr Icelandic yogurt
- Black pepper
- Za’atar to taste (an Arabic spice blend combining toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme, dried marjoram, and sumac)
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
- 1 wholemeal pitta bread, toasted
- Place the cucumber in a small bowl, add some freshly ground black pepper, and a generous sprinkling of za’atar.
- Add the Skyr and mix well.
- Garnish with the thyme leaves and serve with the freshly toasted pitta.
Michelle’s top tip: “If you’re growing outdoor cucumbers like me, don’t forget to rub off the outside bristly bits first.”
Adam’s potato pancakes
Hash browns, rosti, platzki: call these what you will, says Adam of Carrot Tops Allotment. His grated potato cake recipe originates from Poland and is super easy to make. Cold, wet, tired? This is comfort food personified.
- 4-5 medium sized potatoes
- 1 small onion
- 1 egg, beaten
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Vegetable oil
- Grate the potatoes and onion into a bowl and season to taste.
- Remove some of the excess water by pressing the potato mixture into a sieve.
- Return to the bowl and add the beaten egg, stirring well.
- Set a frying pan over a medium heat and add a generous amount of oil. It needs to be hot enough to sizzle when you start to fry your potato.
- Drop a tablespoon of the potato mixture into the pan, flattening it down so it cooks evenly. If your pan is large enough, you should be able to fry 3 or 4 platzki at once.
- Cook each side of the platzki for about 3-4 minutes.
- Place the platzki onto a piece of kitchen roll before serving, to soak up any excess oil.
Adam’s top tip: “Delicious served with sour cream, or (vegetarian) goulash!”
Alexandra’s corn on the cob ‘cookout’
Freshly picked home grown produce often needs very little messing with to deliver a powerful flavour punch. Just to prove it, this BBQ ‘cheat’ from Alexandra over at The Middle Sized Garden is pure genius in its simplicity. With a smear of butter and a sprinkle of salt, it doesn’t get much better than this for a taste of summer!
- Freshly picked corn on the cob, one per person
- Butter and salt
- Pick your sweetcorn, leaving the leaves intact (don’t peel anything off)
- Place the cobs straight onto a warm bbq, simply as they are.
- Roast on the bbq for around 15 minutes, turning occasionally.
Alexandra’s top tip: “When ready, peel the leaves back (but don’t cut them off) to use as a ‘handle’ to hold the cob.”
Katie’s wild garlic and cheese scones
Katie from Lavender and Leeks is a little bit in love with garlic, and when she discovered a hoard of this lovely ingredient growing wild, she couldn’t resist experimenting to make one of her other favourite things of all time – scones!
- 250g self raising flour
- 50g butter
- 25g strong cheddar, grated
- 1 egg, beaten
- 100ml milk
- Small handful of wild garlic, chopped
- Preheat your oven to 220C/gas mark 7.
- Chop the cold butter into small cubes and rub into the flour.
- Add the grated cheese and wild garlic.
- Beat the egg and milk together before gradually adding almost all of the liquid to the dry mixture, kneading gently until you have a soft dough. Keep a little of the milk mixture for use later.
- On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 2 cm thick. Use a round 2 inch cutter to stamp out 10 scones.
- Place them on a greased tin and use the remaining milk and egg mixture to brush over the tops. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the scones turn a golden colour.
Kate’s top tip: “They aren’t the type of scone you have with jam and cream but they are very delicious served fresh and hot from the oven with a spread of butter. This recipe makes 10. Be warned though… you might want to double the ingredients!”
Caro’s broad bean and mint hummus
Caro from The Urban Veg Patch loves her snacks so much, she grows extra broad beans just for this recipe! As she says, who wouldn’t want to loaf around with a glass of wine/beer/gin (not in the same glass or even sitting) on a balmy evening, with this tasty homemade hummus and some flatbreads…?
- 400g un-podded broad beans
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil (more to taste)
- Juice of half a small lemon
- 2 stems of mint, leaves only
- Salt and pepper
- Pod the beans and boil lightly in salted water for about 8 minutes. Small beans will take less time.
- Drain the beans and remove the skins.
- Blitz in a blender with the lemon juice, olive oil and mint leaves until you have a smooth paste.
- Add more oil if needed and season to taste.
Caro’s top tip: “Use good quality olive oil. It really does make a difference.”
Kate’s cucumber ice cream
Last year Kate from Diary of a Country Girl had a mountain of homegrown cucumbers on her hands – so she decided to try and make cucumber ice cream. Apparently, back in the day, it was really rather fashionable! This gloriously refreshing and crisp dessert is what she came up with.
- 160g diced cucumber
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 eggs
- 80g caster sugar
- 60g runny honey
- 240ml double cream
- 240ml whole milk
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Generous pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- Peel, de-seed, and finely chop the cucumbers. Purée them in a blender with the lemon juice until very smooth.
- Beat the eggs, sugar and honey until foamy and light with an electric mixer. Stir in the puréed cucumber, cream, milk and vanilla.
- Strain through a sieve before whisking in the nutmeg.
- Freeze in ice-cream maker.
- If you don’t have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into an air-tight container, freeze for an hour, then mix in a food processor. Freeze for a further two hours and mix again. Repeat the process after another two hours and return to the freezer until ready to eat.
Kate’s top tip: “I now make cucumber ice cream all throughout the year, but it’s always miles better with homegrown cucumbers!”
Lucy’s easy apple tart
If you’re looking for a recipe with minimum prep and maximum flavour, Lucy from The Smallest Smallholding is a fan of letting good quality ingredients speak for themselves. What better way to celebrate a bag full of fat, autumnal apples than this super simple tart?
- 2 – 3 large Bramley apples, peeled & cored
- Ready-made rolled puff pastry
- Demerara sugar for sprinkling
- Apricot jam for glazing
- Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5/190C/375F
- Line a tart tin or flan dish with baking parchment.
- Using the upside down tin as a rough guide, cut a large disc of puff pastry to size, leaving an extra 2cm or so for the crust.
- Press into the tin, moulding gently to the sides. It doesn’t have to be too neat!
- Thinly slice the apple and create a spiral pattern on the pastry. Start at the outside edge and working in, overlapping each slice.
- Sprinkle demerara sugar over the top and pop the tin onto the middle shelf of the oven.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until the pastry is a light golden brown. Make sure it has baked thoroughly in the middle.
- Remove from the oven and glaze with apricot jam.
Lucy’s top tip: “Want to make this vegan? Simply buy ready made rolled vegan puff pastry. The serve it with vegan ice cream or Alpro custard. You can also make bite-sized tartlets using a greased, shallow muffin tray.”
Tanya’s honey and almond baklava
Tanya over at Lovely Greens grows her own fruit and veg, but she also makes her own honey, hence her appreciation for this middle-eastern inspired treat. If you have a sweet tooth like Tanya, you have to try these sweet and crunchy morsels of deliciousness, oozing with rich honey and marzipan-like filling. For the full step by step instructions, make sure to head to Lovely Greens.
- 1½ cups honey
- 1½ cups caster sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 5 whole cloves
- 2 cups chopped almonds
- 2 cups chopped mixed nuts of your choice – peanuts, hazelnuts, pistachios
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup of caster sugar
- 1 cup of melted butter
- Filo pastry – you need 24 sheets the same size as your dish. For my 12×9” dish, I used a single 250g pack.
- ½ cup of melted butter
Tanya’s top tip: “I used my own raw honey for the syrup and highly recommend you source local honey too – the flavour will knock your socks off! Make baklava the day before you serve it to allow the syrup to really soak into the dish.”
We hope our bloggers have inspired you to try new and exciting ways to serve up your home grown fruit and veg. Tell us which of the recipes is your favourite? We’d love to hear your comments and see photos of your own creations over on Facebook and Instagram or check out our dedicated cucumber hub page to find all of our top resources.
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