Sunday, November 30, 2014

How to prepare fresh chestnuts, and a chestnut risotto recipe

Wild chestnuts can be one of the most frustrating wild crops to forage, yet are one of the most rewarding. The most challenging part is finding a tree with decent-sized nuts. Some years in the UK they just never seem to get big enough to be worth eating. This year I happened across lots of trees which only yielded tiny nuts, including in several Central London parks. But then a walk out in Kent, when chestnuts were the last thing on my mind, put lots of plump nuts in my path.

The challenges continue with the prickles (wear gloves, or restrict yourself to the ones that have fallen out of the spiny cases). And finally, peeling them is a rather time-consuming process which leaves me with painful bits of chestnut case under my fingernail.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Green tomato burritos and a green tomato salsa

My enthusiasm for green tomatoes is undimmed. I've now discovered they make a great salsa - no need for lime juice, as the tomatoes have their own tartness built in.

The green tomatoes get a double billing here, adding depth to the smoky lentil filling as well as in the lively, fresh salsa to go on top.

There are almost endless variations on these burritos. If you don't have green tomatoes, they'll be delicious, if a little different, with red tomatoes too. You could make a quicker version using tinned black beans instead of the lentils. It's fun to play around with different toppings - guacamole or sliced avocado, grated cheese and chilli sauce are all options. Sour cream would be delicious too, but I rather like natural yogurt as a lighter alternative. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Spiced lentils with green tomatoes

As you'll know if you read my last post, I had a bit of a glut of unripe tomatoes. After cooking them Italian-style turned out better than I expected, I decided to try an Indian-influenced approach. I thought about making a fairly dry curry with just green tomatoes, onions and spices. But I wanted something that I could scoop up with Indian breads - and this dish was perfect.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Tomatoes three ways: a quick and easy pasta sauce

Those of you who don't grow tomatoes may never have had cause to consider what to do with green tomatoes. It's not something I'd ever thought much about in the past. But the tomato plants in our office balcony garden were being chopped down, and were still covered in green tomatoes that had never got the chance to ripen. It seemed a shame to let them get thrown away.

I'd heard of green tomato chutney, and of course the Southern dish of fried green tomatoes (as in the 1991 film of the same name). I'm sure they're lovely, but they're not really a meal in themselves. Often when I think of tomatoes I think of pasta, so I decided to see what a pasta sauce might be like with green tomatoes.