Glut cooking

One way of  being able to eat good quality food every day, is by being savvy about what you buy and when  to make the most of seasonally abundant vegetables.

For me, it is partly the excitement of getting a really good deal as well as the knowledge that an hour or so of pleasant work in the kitchen is going to produce something useful and delicious to enjoy over the coming weeks or months.

Every month of the year the shops and markets are flooded with certain varieties of fruit and vegetables, but perhaps never as abundant as this month.

Where to buy “gluts”?

  • (farmers’) markets – growers will be selling what’s in season and some, keen not to have to take produce back with them, will reduce prices towards the end of the market www.lfm.org.uk and www.cityandcountryfarmersmarkets.com
  • pick-your-own farms – a fun way to spend time with your kids or a friend and a way to buy food at prices which have not been inflated by a middleman www.pickyourownfarms.org.uk
  • box schemes – can be a good source of seasonal fruit & veg, although some are (no longer) very local. Check out http://growingcommunities.org/ if you live in North London.
  • wild food – help yourself from the public larder! Many parks are a great source of blackberries in August/September and I picked masses of wild garlic earlier this year.
  • ethnic greengrocers – can be an excellent source of boxes of tomatoes, mangoes and fresh herbs. They are also worth checking out for good deals on large bags of grains, rice and pulses as well as spices.

Here are a few recipes/ideas for my personal favourites. Some of which lend themselves to the concept of taking time out in the kitchen now to enjoy the fruits of your labour later.

And remember, when an ingredient is in season there is nothing wrong with eating it a couple of times a week or even every day: purple sprouting broccoli, blood oranges, new potatoes, wild garlic, asparagus, samphire, elderflowers, strawberries, cherries, quinces …

Beautiful toms!

Tomato sauce

This is what you need

4kg ripe tomatoes (it doesn’t matter if they are overripe)

10 onions, chopped

6 garlic cloves, chopped

25oml olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

This is what you do:

  1. heat the oil in a pan large enough to take all the tomatoes (or divide the tomatoes + other ingredients equally over a couple of pans)
  2. add the onions and garlic and soften (but not brown) over low heat
  3. add the tomatoes and simmer, partially covered with a lid, for at least one hour until the tomatoes are very soft
  4. stir the mixture now and then to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan
  5. some of the liquid will evaporate but that is a good thing and will concentrate the flavour
  6. taste the sauce: it should be sweet once it has cooked down
  7. season with salt and pepper and decide if you need to add sugar
  8. at this point you can let the mixture cool before storing in the fridge as it is 
  9. or put the tomatoes through a passevite (mouli-legumes) if you prefer a smoother sauce without tomato skins + pips
  10. you could also split the mixture and to make half a batch of smooth and half with more texture

You’ll notice that I don’t add any herbs; that is because this way you can use the tomato sauce in a wide range of dishes from soups, to stews to pasta and red Thai curry.

The tomato sauce will keep in the fridge for up to a week. Alternatively, freeze in small quantities in strong, properly sealed, freezer bags.

Oven dried tomatoes

This is what you need:

25 ripe tomatoes

olive oil

dried oregano (or thyme or both)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

This is what you do:

  1. pre-heat the oven to 100C
  2. cut the tomatoes in half lengthways; I don’t bother scooping out the seeds but you can if you wish
  3. pat the cut surface of the tomatoes dry with paper kitchen towel
  4. sprinkle with dried herbs, salt + pepper
  5. drizzle with olive oil
  6. bake for 4 – 6 hours
  7. the tomatoes should be shrivelled like a raisin, not too brown
  8. you may need to adjust the oven temperature as ovens vary
  9. if you want to keep the tomatoes for a while, put into a sterilised jar and cover with olive oil or store in a container in the fridge “au naturel”

Great piled onto toast, in a frittata, mixed through pasta or eaten straight from the jar!

Courgettes, some with the flowers still attached

Courgette fritters with spicy tomato sauce (serves 6)

This is what you need:

fritters

750g courgettes, coarsely grated

200g gram (chickpea) flour

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground paprika

2 tbsp finely shredded fresh mint

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for frying

salsa

500g tomatoes, finely chopped

1/4 onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

3 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

2 tbsp finely chopped flatleaf parsley

This is what you do:

  1. for the salsa, mix all the ingredients, check for seasoning, cover and set aside in the fridge to chill
  2. for the fritters, put the courgettes in a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave to drain for 20 minutes
  3. sieve the flour in a large bowl, add the spices, salt and pepper and 200ml of cold water
  4. mix until you have a smooth batter, then add the olive oil and mint
  5. squeeze the moisture from the courgettes, then stir into the batter
  6. heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil to a non-stick frying pan
  7. add a large tbsp of batter to the frying pan taking care not to overcrowd the pan; you are aiming to make about 18 fritters
  8. press the batter down lightly and fry over medium heat for 2/3 minutes then flip over with a non-scratch spatula
  9. fry for another 2/3 minutes then move to a plate and keep warm
  10. serve warm with the cold salsa

Another idea for “glut cooking” with tomatoes and courgettes is Moro’s gazpacho recipe from last week. And later in the year, perhaps have a go at making quince meat …

Happy savvy shopping & cooking!

Best,

Monique

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