As we move out of the abundance of the summer months and into Autumn, the vegetables in the Ashburnham Kitchen garden can, to some, feel less exciting and a bit less inspirational.
Many vegetables grown at this time of year may not win awards for their looks, but what they lack in beauty they more than make up for in flavour; they are actually packed full of flavour.
This recipe was inspired by a walk around the Kitchen garden with Nick, our Head Gardener, and everything in it is available as a veg box from Nick and his team, so why not try making this for a group of friends and enjoy the flavours of Autumn.
Roasted autumnal vegetables, fruits &Borlotti bean salad ( 4-6 portions)
5 Beetroot the size of a golf ball or a bit bigger
1Butternut squash peeled
½ Celeriac Peeled
2 Red onions
6 stems of Rainbow chard mixed colours
1 head Garlic peeled finely chopped
Thyme 3-4 sprigs
Fennel seeds 1 tbsp.
Coriander seeds 1tbsp
Borlotti beans 200g shelled
1Pear cut into wedges and core removed
1 russet apple sliced and core removed
2 tsp sugar
Good quality red wine vinegar
Heat the oven to 180c.
It is always good to work in an orderly and methodical manner when in the kitchen. For example, wash all the vegetables first before cutting, clear down any soil or debris, do all or any peeling, then do all the cutting and finally, the cooking.
Working in this way should help keep a clear mind as you repeat the same tasks albeit on different vegetables, therefore not changing which knife or peeler you are using, meaning you are working more efficiently and organised.
Once everything is washed, and all peelings cleared away, start to prepare the vegetables in their various shapes.
Wash the beetroot well, particularly around the top where the leaves grow, trim the leaf stem to about 2cm above the top of the beetroot and put the washed leaves to one side for later use.
Cut the Celeriac into 1cm square batons about 7-8cm long. Red onions can be cut into 8 wedges. The squash has 2 distinctly different parts.
The bulbous bottom is where all the seeds are; this can be cut off from the main cylinder part. Cut the bulb in half vertically to reveal all the seeds, then using a spoon, remove the seeds and discard, then cut the bulb into crescents about 2cm thick. Cut the large cylinder part of the squash in half lengthways and then cut into half-moon slices about 2cm thick.
You may have noticed that everything is 2cm thick this is so that they all cook at approximately the same time.
Cut the rainbow chard into batons about 7-8cm long & 1 cm thick. The same can be done to the beetroot stalks, remove the leaves and put with the beet leaf.
As you prepare each vegetable, place them on a small tray of their own or a large tray but keep them in separate rows. Separate trays are better and ensure that the vegetables are spread out and not on top of each other, so they do not steam whilst cooking, but so the heat can circulate around them to crisp them up.
Once everything is cut, you can start to cook.
Start with the beetroot as they will take the longest to cook.
Spread a sheet of foil onto a tray, place the beetroot on top, drizzle over some olive oil, add 2 peeled garlic cloves, thyme, and about 6-8 of each coriander & fennel seeds. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt.
Wrap the foil around the Beets so they are entirely enclosed, and then place them on a tray and put in the oven. Depending on the size of the beetroot, they will take between 30 mins to an hour.
Sprinkle the rest of the vegetables with Olive oil, Sea salt, garlic, thyme, fennel & coriander seed as you did with the beets.
After the beets have been in for about 20 mins, put the trays (or tray) of vegetables into the oven and cook for about 15-25 mins until they are cooked through but not completely soft, they should also have some colouration on the edges.
Once the vegetables are in the oven, start to cook the Borlotti beans.
Place them in a pan and cover them with cold water. Add 2 garlic cloves, a sprig of thyme and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. (Adding a dried red chilli adds a subtle background heat to the beans, optional) Do not add salt at this point as it hardens the bean skin before they have a chance to cook and prolongs the cooking time.
Bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 mins or until the beans are tender. You may have to top up the water as they cook, as some water will evaporate, but it is better this way than flooding them with lots of water at the start as this dilutes the flavour.
When the beans are cooked, season with salt and leave to stand in the liquid to cool, when cool, drain the beans from the cooking liquid, reserving the liquid and removing the thyme, garlic cloves and chilli if using.
Once all the vegetables are cooked, you can start to assemble the salad.
Remove the beetroot from the oven and the foil, carefully remove the skin, this should easily peel off, or you can run under cold water briefly to help. Try to keep the small amount of stalk on the top of the beets, as this adds a nice decorative touch.
Once all the skin is removed, cut the beets into 2cm wedges and drizzle with red wine vinegar. Keep warm.
Remove all the other vegetables from the oven.
The washed beet & chard stalks that were placed aside can now be quickly sautéed in a little olive oil. The chard & beet leaves can be shredded and tossed with the steams, season with salt & pepper.
In another sauté pan fry the pear wedges & apple slices in a little sugar until caramelised all over. Sprinkle with a bit of sherry vinegar when done.
Take a large bowl and spoon ready for mixing.
Lift the vegetables from their trays and place them into the mixing bowl. When transferring, remove all the thyme stalks and excess coriander and fennel seeds. If there are few stuck to the vegetables, that’s fine, but any left in the tray can stay there.
Mix all the vegetables and the beans, and the beetroot leaf. When mixed, add the beetroot last and give a final mix, adding the beetroot last stops everything else from turning red from the beetroot juice.
Take the Borlotti bean cooking liquid and blend into it with a small hand blender, a good handful of basil, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Use this liquid to dress the vegetables, check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Pile the vegetables into a large serving bowl or plate and share with your quests.