FRUGAL FOODIE: Following the seasons when it comes to eating fruit and vegetables

Colourful courgettes.
Colourful courgettes.

I know that not everyone is lucky enough to have the space for a vegetable plot or even for a few pots on a patio, but it makes sense to always eat fruit and vegetables that are in season.

I know that that is how we eat in our household.

Although I live in a tiny house that leaves a lot to be desired, I am very lucky that I live in a rural location and my humble bungalow comes with a large garden. This allows us to grow a large range of fruit and vegetables.

It’s not only great for keeping the budget down but it’s a great way to get children to understand about where their food comes from.

Our kids love diving into the garden and eating peas straight from the pod at this time of year or helping me dig potatoes.

The garden is very much a work in progress and it has taken us over four years of blood, sweat and tears to get it to the stage that it is at now.

I wouldn’t change it for the world, however, it’s very time intensive and I understand that not everyone would have the motivation to put the effort into growing their own.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that my garden is a weed-free paradise.

I have two busy businesses that I run on my own, two young children and I write this weekly column and my blog as an unpaid hobby and a bit of fun. My vegetables are currently barely breathing for weeds but they are still providing us with lots of delicious meals and some of my weary store cupboard ingredients are getting a well deserved break.

For those people that haven’t got the energy or space for GYO, I would suggest learning about what is in season and when so that they can be more educated about how they shop.

Buying lots of very cheap seasonal veg and preserving it is a great idea so that you can enjoy these lovely ingredients out of season too.

My cupboards are always bulging with chutneys, jams and pickles from doing exactly that.

There are lots of gardening and cookery books, and websites that can advise on seasonal foods. Check out eatthesea sonsco.uk

I’ve built up a great kitchen full of gadgets and ingredients over the years.

My lovely Kenwood mixer is at least two decades old and was purchased from eBay. My over-used food processor was given to me as a present at least 14 years ago.

As I’ve said in previous weeks, I’m definitely not one for sticking to best before dates.

I’m very much a sniff it, taste it and use it type of girl so I wouldn’t like to tell you how old some of my store cupboard and fridge ingredients are.

Put it this way, it’s been a long time since I replenished them!

I’m lucky that I have these time-saving gadgets but understand that not everyone does.

A good alternative to investing in a food processor is to invest in a good quality knife.

I have an amazing Victorinox tomato knife that I use for everything.

It costs about £5 and it’s definitely up there as one of my favourite and most used possessions. It makes my cooking so much easier.

Pestle and mortars are handy to have for making curry pastes and quickly crushing herbs and spices. Mine is a cheapy from Ikea but if you don’t have one, use a freezer bag and bash away with a rolling pin – it’s very therapeutic!

On the subject of seasonal veg, I am pre-empting the glut of courgettes that is about to happen.

Every year I come up with lots of new recipes to use all the lovely courgettes that we have.

They’re one of my favourite vegetables and they go so well with the mint and dill in my garden so I always feel like I’m eating holiday food.

Some of my favourite recipes are: Courgette and mint soup, courgette, dill and feta cakes, courgette, pea and feta linguine, stuffed courgette flowers, battered, crispy courgettes and simply sliced and sautéed with garlic.

I make huge quantities of courgette soup and freeze it. We are still eating last year’s! This is my favourite!

** Follow Frugal Foodie Christine McAllister on Twitter @thefrugaldiary or read her blog at diaryofafoodie.co.uk.

RECIPE

Courgette and mint soup

INGREDIENTS

30g chorizo, chopped

2 onions, roughly chopped

100g butter

1kg courgettes, roughly chopped

1 handful mint, roughly chopped

1 litre chicken stock, preferably homemade

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

A pinch of salt and pepper

Milk

METHOD

Heat a dry frying pan to a medium heat, add the chorizo and let it render its fat.

When it’s just starting to crisp, remove the chorizo from the pan and add the butter.

Once melted, add the onions and a pinch of salt, and cook over a low heat until they are soft and transparent. Don’t let them brown.

Add the courgettes to the pan with a pinch of pepper and the chilli flakes and cook for a few minutes until the courgettes are just starting to soften and colour

Add the stock and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for a further 5-10 minutes, until the courgettes are soft.

Remove from the heat, add the mint and blitz to a purée. Add more salt, if required.

Add enough milk to give it the consistency that you desire.

I like to serve it with a sprinkling of chilli flakes on top and, if you have any, a swirl of cream.