Lynnette Peck looks at easy to grow veg and herbs and features three delicious spring recipes you can make for a DIY lunch you can be proud of.
Lynnette Peck looks at easy-to-grow veg and herbs and finds three delicious spring recipes you can make for a DIY lunch you can be proud of.
Imagine sitting down to lunch at home, ideally in a sunny garden or on a balcony, and serving lunch to family and friends featuring ingredients that you have grown yourself. Sound good?
It isn’t that difficult and it is incredibly healthy.
Let’s start with peas, from which you can conjure up a delicious Pea & Mushroom Risotto.
Peas need well-drained, weed-free soil in full sunlight in order to grow. Add plenty of compost to the soil for a few weeks before sowing and then harvest them between June to October.
The easiest varieties to grow are mangetout and sugar snap varieties. Plus, you don’t need a special plot as they are just as happy growing in ornamental borders and pots.
- For the risotto ensure you buy Arborio rice and not any other type. It is specifically for risotto as it is short-grained, soaks up flavours, is high in starch so tastes creamy and doesn’t need pre-boiling.
- Simply chop some onions and cook in butter, add rice, peas, mushrooms and vegetable stock and just keep cooking and reducing and adding stock until rice is cooked.
- Both Delia Smith and Jamie Oliver have great risotto recipes which can easily be found online.
One of my favourite springtime treats is something I have named Lazy Tomato Tart.
Growing tomatoes is simple too and is a good vegetable for starter gardeners. Sprinkle tomato seeds over seed compost, cover with compost and water lightly. Grow in direct sunlight but sheltered from wind. As they grow use canes or netting for support and water little and often.
- The tart is is basically adding a home-cooked tomato sauce and uncooked home-grown tomatoes, all squished up, on to a pastry base and popping in the oven.
- To make the sauce fry onion, garlic and tomatoes together with some caster sugar, vinegar and tomato puree. Delicious.
- It is a good as a starter or main and works well served with a green salad.
Growing herbs is always immensely satisfying as they grow quickly, don’t take up much space and go with so many spring dishes. My favourite herb recipe is to make a Mint, Parsley & Tarragon Salad.
Ideally start growing herbs in early spring under cloches and frames and sow a few trays on a windowsill (that catches the sun) or in a conservatory or greenhouse.
Forget making herbs part of a green salad and instead make them the salad.
- Use just the leaves (remove the stems). Experiment with different herbs at will (this one is just my favourite combination).
- If you prefer individual herbs then try a mint salad with lamb, tarragon salad with roast chicken and parsley salad with a fish dish.
My finishing touch
The shops are full of palm-print crockery and pastel pink and green accessories, so if after all that gardening you feel like rewarding yourself, then these are great options for a stylish and fashionable-looking lunch table on which to serve your spring dishes.
What are your favourite spring-time recipes? We’d love it if you shared them in the comments section below.