Different dishes with the same old same old and have you Olio-ed yet?!- Narberth Breeze magazine article Feb-March 2017

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At last the days are getting longer and we’re seeing signs of greenery emerging, what a welcome change! However, we’re in the ‘hungry gap’ as far as local fruit and vegetables go, and will be for another month or two. Sticking to a seasonal diet is great for the environment, our health and our pocket but does get a bit dull when another meal of root veg and winter greens looms again.

So, whilst the produce may be the same I’m trying different ways of preparing and cooking them. Boiling or steaming carrots, swedes or squash and then mashing them brings out their fresh flavour and vibrant colour. Adding spice also livens them up – try roasting carrots whole (or slice lengthways if they’re whoppers) and roast with caraway or cumin seeds.

Braising vegetables adds depth of flavour from the braising liquor and long slow cooking – try celery submerged in a broth of vegetable stock, white wine, butter and fennel seeds. Cooked until softened, the vegetable absorbs all these tastes and adds its own subtle aroma to the mix.

I’m also trying different ways of reducing how much food we waste at home. We’re getting better at freezing food we won’t eat before the use by date, and cooking SOON meals (Something Out Of Nothing) from the odds and ends at the back of the fridge and kitchen cupboard. But there are times when I just don’t like something I’ve bought – an unusual ingredient bought on a whim – or have totally over-catered.

Now there’s a food sharing app for householders and shops to connect people with surplus food to people who want it. Olio is being used by people all over the UK to share food in their community. Like all networks it’s more effective the more people who join and use it. It would be great if lots of us from our area joined up and used Olio to share our surplus food – feeding bellies not bins!

You can find out more at www.olioex.com and download the Olio app from the App Store and Google Play for free.

Eat Your Greens – three ways with leafy greens, e.g. kale, cavolo nero, large spinach or spring greens (these are recipe ideas, use quantities to suit).

Massaged Greens

Strip any tough stems from the leaves and tear leaves into bite size pieces, sprinkle with half a teaspoon of salt and squeeze over half a lemon/lime or a tablespoon of vinegar. Massage the leaves for a minute or two, they will wilt and juices will run out. Leave for a few minutes or longer and drain off the bitter juices and season. You can add to a salad, dress with some oil and vinegar or serve as a side vegetable.

Green Crisps

Strip any tough stems from the leaves and drizzle oil on leaves, mix together and bake in a hot oven for about 10 minutes until they are crisp, remove and sprinkle with salt and pepper. You can add other flavours, try sprinkling over smoked paprika or masala chat (mixed spice blend).

Green Pasta

Cook pasta in a large pan of boiling water, follow timings on packet. Strip any tough stems from the leaves and tear the leaves into bite size pieces. Add the leaves to the pasta for the last minute of cooking so they soften and wilt. Finely slice a clove or two of garlic and maybe some chilli or chorizo. Gently fry the garlic/chilli/chorizo in oil for a few minutes then add to the drained pasta and green leaves. A strong cheese (blue/parmesan) stirred into the finished dish works well too.

This article first appeared in Narberth Breeze magazine.