Nettle Pesto

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This recipe was a revelation. I grabbed a few young nettle leaves from the allotment, blanched them (very important as this gets rid of the sting!) and bashed them up with some oil, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan, and hey pesto! It made enough to feed two with spaghetti, but you could easily make more and keep it in a jar covered with oil in the fridge and it would probably last a week or so.

You’ll need to wear gloves when harvesting/prepping the nettles, and feel free to adjust any of the quantities according to taste. The following made quite a gutsy pesto, absolutely delicious and so full of vitamins and iron!

NETTLE PESTO
Serves: 2  Prep/cooking time: 15 mins

Ingredients

80g young nettles (remove any coarse pieces of stalk)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
30g parmesan cheese, grated
handful of pine nuts
squeeze of lemon juice

Method

Bring a pan of water to the boil and blanch the nettles for 1-2 minutes before draining and plunging into iced water to stop them cooking.

Meanwhile, crush the garlic and grate the parmesan cheese.

Drain the nettles and squeeze out all the water you can. They’ll have lost their sting by now. You’ll be left with a small ball of green. Chop finely.

Place the garlic, cheese and nettles in a large bowl and pour over the olive oil.

Pound thoroughly with the end of a rolling pin.

Add the pine nuts and a squeeze of lemon juice before giving the pesto another good pounding.

I added some freshly cooked spaghetti to the bowl and tossed everything together before serving, but you can do all sorts with the pesto: spread it on bread or pizza bases, coat meat with it. You can easily make it in a blender or with a pestle and mortar if you prefer.

Enjoy!
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Carrot and Orange Soup

There’s nothing better on a chilly, autumnal day than a bright and hearty bowl of soup, and this one is a real winner.

This is my own twist on a classic recipe and is a great way to use up your plot-grown carrots, onions and garlic, and even home-grown oranges for those readers who live in sunnier climes!

In my Carrot and Orange Soup, I use only a little of the orange zest as I find too much can make the soup bitter, and I also use the whole chopped orange rather than just juicing it, as many recipes advise. (Why waste the rest of the fruit?)

The result is a thick, sweet and delicious soup.

I have also added a few little flourishes to make this soup a real powerhouse of vitamins and nutrients, so a bowlful of this is the perfect weapon for anyone succumbing to the first sniffles of the season. As well as the vitamin C from the orange,  the onion and garlic have antibacterial and antiviral properties, cumin and coriander have antiseptic properties and  the carrots are rich in beta-carotene which strengthens the immune system.

Soup yourself healthy, I say.
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Carrot & Orange Soup

 

CARROT AND ORANGE SOUP
Serves: 2-4 (depending on bowl size) Prep Time: 10 mins Cooking Time: 55 mins

Ingredients

1 tbsp. olive oil
400g carrots, peeled and chopped into cubes
1 orange
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
1 tbsp. of fresh coriander, chopped
800 ml of vegetable stock
Salt & pepper to taste

Method

Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. Once hot, add the cumin seeds and fry for 2 mins.

Add the chopped onion and garlic to the pan and sweat them for 10 mins.

Grate the zest from about half of the orange.

Once the onions are soft and translucent, add the chopped carrots and the orange zest. Stir well, cover and cook for 5 mins.

Add the vegetable stock, bring to the boil, then cover and gently simmer for 30 mins or until the carrots are really soft.

Meanwhile, peel the orange (making sure you remove the pith and any pips) and chop into chunks.

After 30 mins, add the chopped coriander and orange to the pan, making sure you don’t waste any of the juice, and cook for a further 5 mins.

Remove from the heat and blitz in a blender. The soup should be thick, but add a little water if it is too thick.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a sprinkling of fresh coriander leaves.

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