Today is veg box delivery day – Hurray!! What a shame the fridge is still half full of the previous delivery, I feel a bit of soup making coming on. A lot of our cooking and eating is governed by the fortnightly appearance, over the garden wall, of our veg box. We have subscribed to one for years now and really do feel lost without it. Not having to think about which veg to buy I find quite a release, drives the small amount of menu planning that goes on here, ensures we are eating seasonally and prevents the peppers-broccoli-mushrooms rut we would be stuck in otherwise.
A lot of my peers also seem to belong to that section of the population which feel they ought to have, do have, did have, cancelled then went back too, couldn’t get on with but nonetheless did try a veg box. Many of us seem to treat veggies like one views medicine, it’s got to done, grimly peeling, chopping, steaming, coaxing kids into eating and endlessly flicking though cook books over. My view, for what it is worth, is that either because I need an antidote to the amount of sugar I work with or because I genuinely like most of them, I really don’t mind the effort involved in coping with them but admittedly it probably has taken years to get into a groove.
I currently have a Riverford box and previously to that when living in Bristol we had one supplied by The Green Wheel who can be located with a bit of searching on their link (Don’t have a website). Green Wheel were completely great, as Lola from Charlie and Lola might say. Reliable, veg was great, you had little treats of this and that, the odd lemon thrown in and Billy and Co really thought about what people might need from their veg delivery. True customer service was a trademark and I was sad to eventually move out of their range. However Riverford are good too and in my experience deliver slightly better quality veg than Abel and Cole the other big player in this field (!).
I doubt these need much explanation. Chatting to friends about their experience with ordering boxes the main complaint is usually ‘too much of things they don’t really want to eat’. The reasons behind this problem probably range from not liking something, to the dictatorial nature of the veg box to just not having enough recipes to vary how a particular veg box inhabitant might be served up. The unloved vegetables. This theme of using up unloved veggies is sort of starting to take root (!) in recipe books as cookery authors and chefs have worked out that those who buy such books are often veg box recipients too. Box schemes themselves also try to help with this, I for one have never got on that well with most of the veg recipes supplied by schemes. During the week I often want a one pot meal and endless recipes using veg as an accompaniment do not hit the spot. A range of books and authors seems to be the only tactic.
I am planning to try to address this from time to time as I blog to give some ideas for those in despair over too many beetroot, cabbages, swedes, leeks….
So unloved vegetable number ONE – Celeriac
Soup is often an excellent route to take when dealing with unloved veggies. Celeriac I think is relatively versatile, as it can be mashed with potato, mashed on its own, used to pad out casseroles, widely used in salad-y type things and also works very well in soup.
A basic celeriac soup recipe might look like this: Chop an onion, and fry over a medium to low heat in a reasonably sized knob of butter and a little oil until transparent, add a clove of crushed garlic, along with, diced, a medium potato and a medium celeriac, (optionally a sliced leek), cover and sweat for 10 minutes or so over a low heat. Then add around 1 litre of stock, veg or chicken, actual or from stock cubes is fine. bring to boil and simmer for around 20 mins until the veggies are tender. Blend, add a little thyme or chopped dill or parsley and a couple of good tablespoons or either, fromage frais, crème fraîche, or double cream. Season to taste.
Things one might add here: ¼-½ tsp of truffle oil or garlic oil, or 15-25g of dried mushrooms soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes (add these, drained, with the stock), or 4-6 chopped field mushrooms (again add with the stock), or lemon juice to taste.
The New Covent Garden Food Co. Soup Cookbook needs a shout out here, brimming with fantastic recipes and lots of inspiration.
P.S. A word about tagging – I am planning to develop my own tagging system to work alongside the more conventional one supplied by WordPress. Unloved veggies will therefore appear as a tag and be used each time I feel I have blogged about a tricky vegetable. Over time I’m hoping this will produce a list of recipes to browse through.