Spring is really here now, the sun is out, temperature is up, some paddling pools have even come out already! The fun in the vegetable garden can really begin now! Because it has become warmer, the vegetables grow so much quickly, finally things are really moving. It is the perfect time to think about what you will be cooking with all those lovely homegrown vegetables.
Last week I started to write a list of recipes for homegrown produce. In part 1 of this series, we covered radishes, rhubarb and strawberries. This is part two of my list of recipes for the produces from our and your own garden, you will find ideas for cooking your homegrown carrots and broccoli. You will find some little tips and tricks for growing these veggies as well.
Ok, growing carrots is not too difficult I have found. It is a good idea to sow onion or garlic of some sort next to the carrots. Their smell is said to help keep the carrot fly away. We are using an old vegetable plot and although we add compost every year, dig it in quite deeply and loosen the soil, it is not quite deep enough to grow straight and long carrots it seems. Our carrots usually are short and fat and look like this:
They are cute, they are funny and they are very tasty. The kids love to harvest them because of their bright colour I guess and they come out easily. The downside though, is cleaning these little chunks. There is a lot of scrubbing to do and peeling can be very tricky.
If you are growing your vegetables in containers or you have filled your plot in recently with a good deep layer of compost and soft soil you may get yours a longer and more straight.
Because my kids really like carrots I don’t go through much effort to prepare them, we keep it very simple. We have them very often simply cleaned and cut into sticks to dip in hummus whilst waiting for the dinner to be ready. The sticks are perfect for lunch boxes I find. The other most ordinary way we have them is grated roughly as a salad.
Personally, I like carrots best though when they are roasted. To roast carrots, simply clean them and toss them in a little bit of olive oil, season with some pepper (possibly salt) and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes depending on the thickness of your carrots. If your carrots are very thick slice them lengthwise. They may end up like these prettiest carrots in the world.
You also need carrots in this spring roll recipe I wrote for the kids to make.
If you prefer baking, you might want to try this recipe for Apple and Carrot hot cross buns from Sneaky Vegs.
Moving on to broccoli, which is a more tricky vegetable for me in two ways – growing broccoli is a lot harder and making the kids like it as well is the other one! We have grown broccoli with some success, but it is hard to keep the bugs off. Keep an eye on the leaves and have a look for little larvae filling their little tummies! Luckily broccoli plants are pretty strong and resilient as well. Despite all the holes in the leaves, they kept growing and producing beautiful heads last summer. I have planted some lavender amongst the plants hoping their lovely smell confuses them, but I may need to use cayenne pepper according to this article about controlling pests on broccoli.
Here are a few ideas to prepare broccoli for the family:
Steamed and roasted with almond slivers
Steam the broccoli for a few minutes only. Rinse it afterwards in ice water to avoid after cooking and to keep the colour nice bright and green. Then stir fry gently with some slivered almonds and anchovies.
Fried rice with chicken kebab
One of the first recipes on my blog was this fried rice witch chicken kebab and broccoli. For this recipe, steam the broccoli again and then add it to the fried rice. Place it in the oven for 15 minutes to bring out even more lovely taste out of the broccoli.
Purple Sprouted Broccoli
This year we are growing purple sprouted broccoli, which I find even tastier. The biggest difference is in the stems, they are thin and elegant, more delicate and even more important for the kids: very easy to chew! Our own plants are only little at the moment and suffering from pests again, but I had the privilege to go and see these on Oakapple Farm. There I saw the purple sprouted broccoli growing in all its glory there. Hopefully ours will look similar one day…
Purple sprouted broccoli with garlic and sesame
For this purple sprouted broccoli with garlic and sesame, steam or boil the broccoli again briefly, 5 minutes will probably be enough.
Cool down with ice water afterwards.
Warm up some oil of choice into a frying pan, fry the garlic on it’s own for minute or so.
Then add the broccoli and gently stir. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the broccoli in the pan.
Serve and enjoy.
That is it for now as far as I am concerned. Next time I’ll bring more recipes for our home produce. Just before you go, I am a bit curious about what are you growing? Please let me know in the comments and do share ideas about what to cook with it when ready? Do you have top tips to fight pests, please do let us know!