It’s the height of summer and things are looking at their best. Vegetables and fruit are being harvested, while floral summer displays are showing off their frills and colours. For these precious few weeks, allotments and gardens across the land are in their prime. Household garden personalities, with publicists never to miss a trick, are quick to get in on this action as garden photo-shoots are booked and staged so that they can get their next ‘must have’ hardback out on the shelves in time for Christmas.
However, before you know it, the moment will pass. Summer displays will lose their zing, the garden will begin winding down and the allotment’s eternal fountain of courgettes will finally dry up. The season moves on.
But until then, let’s stop, breathe and appreciate the sun on our faces, the bees buzzing in the distance, and the smell of the neighbours’ barbecue.. ahhhh, that’s better.
For me, this was the weekend to down the garden spade and take up the rolling pin and apron. With beetroots beaming and onions at their best, it was time for a session in the kitchen.
So far, I’ve been picking ‘Alto’ beetroot, as and when, roasting a few only to cut them up add some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, season and eat with a salad. But with my first crop of ‘Boltardy’, ‘Chioggia’, and ‘Albina Vereduna’ Beetroot finally ready, it was time for the Big Pickle.
Now those of you who are familiar with our blog will know how Sophie loves to share her excellent recipes. However, today you’re dealing with me. So when it comes to my pickling recipe, I have a few simple words: ‘Not on Your Nelly!’ This is one recipe that the pickling police, under pain of vinegar to an open wound, had me vow never to share. But I will tell you this, it involves beetroot – that’s your lot!
This is the first year I’ve grown and pickled white beetroot, but I’ve been told it tastes wonderful. I have to say, out of the four varieties I’ve grown this year, it was the quickest to mature. As for the taste, well, I’m going have to wait another month as the pickling juices work their magic.
With an oven full of roasting beets, it was time to move onto the next course, caramelised red onion tart. For this recipe, I can take no credit, it’s one I’ve been using for the last few years to celebrate the first of my harvested onions. So simple that even I could put it together, and it tastes wonderful.
At this point, even if I do say so myself, my Jamie Oliver skills were on fire. To accompany the tart, Agent Soph cooked up my kidney potatoes and concocted a wonderful French Bean Salad. Saturday night was spent in the garden. Eating, drinking and spending quality time with my wife… and cat.