Since lockdown, we’ve had an influx of new customers and it’s wonderful to see so many more of you enjoying eating some of the freshest veg available, all from just down the road. We just wanted to put together a little something to help you get more from your Veg Box and minimise any waste. The goal is to have the whole family cooking, eating and loving local produce.
Here are some useful tips to help get the best from your veg!
1. How to Cook your Veg
Most vegetables you get within your box any given week have a myriad of different ways to be cooked. One of the easiest would be to Blanche any greens you get. From there it is easy to then layer flavour on top to make them delicious.
Set a big pot of water on a high heat and wait until you’ve hit a rolling boil. Season the water with salt until it tastes like the sea and add your greens. Cook the greens until they’re tender, generally not too long for chard or kale, but tougher produce like spring greens may take a little longer. Remove from the water and spread out on a baking tray, then once cooled, squeeze out any excess water and chop coarsely.
From there, serve with plenty of salt and pepper. However, I personally like to sauté those blanched greens with onions, garlic, some chilli for a little heat and finished with balsamic vinegar. Delightful.
If that requires a couple of steps too much, you can do a half-way house between sauté and blanching. If you want to sauté something, but it normally takes a little longer than a few minutes to cook fully; you can cook those vegetables in 150ml of water over high heat for the first couple minutes. As the water evaporates from the high heat, it will seamlessly turn from blanching into sautéing. As you sauté there is any number of flavours, spices to add to mix up dinner time!
This technique works incredibly well for things such as cabbage, broccoli, green beans and cauliflower. Definitely beats a bowl of straight up steamed/boiled broccoli!
One of our favourite ways at Kent Veg Box is to roast our veg. The process of roasting brings out almost unparallel sweetness. All our squashes, carrots, beetroot, tomatoes, sprouts and of course potatoes get throw on a baking tray with lashings of oil, salt and pepper and roasted until caramelised and tender. An easy, no fuss base for millions of different dinners.
2. Wash/Bag/Chill your veg as soon as you get it
Especially as we move into summer, there is normally a few bags of leaf veg, greens or salads in your boxes. As ours are straight from the fields, and pesticides aren’t used you may get a bit of grit and or a little traveller in your veg.
Before you pop your veg in the fridge it is best to wash as soon as you can after you received it. Get yourself a salad spinner, which works great, and then put in a sealable container in the fridge (try not to use freezer bags or single use plastic if you can!) away from the inlet of cold air to prevent freezing.
This way your veg is prepped ready to go, especially useful after a late one at work, or picking the kids up or whatever of the million things happen in our daily lives.
This is also true of all our veg, things like caulis, cabbages, carrots and beets can be washed and dried before the fridge to give yourself a little helping hand later in the week.
3. Turn your veg scraps into gold!
The top of a carrot, the skin off your squash, whatever stem, leaf, offcut and less than perfect slice. Sometimes veg preparation can cause some waste. These things, with a bit of love can be turned into gold.
We first saw this tip from the wonderful Nadia Hussain, winner of the great British bake off, and has since become a brilliant tv chef.
She would take all your odds and ends from the preparation of your vegetables, put into a bag in the freezer. Once, over time, you have a big bag of stuff, then add straight from the freezer into a pan on a medium heat with some oil.
Once a little colour hits the vegetables, add the juice of one lemon and some spices (garlic powder, ginger powder, lots of turmeric and chilli flakes). Add some vegetable stock cube, (or a couple spoons of marmite/bovil if you don’t have any!). Cover with two litres of water, bring to the boil then simmer with the lid on for an hour.
Nadia then says, and stick with her on this, add 3 Weetabix to the soup before you blend with a stick blender. The wheat really helps to thicken up the soup and create a brilliant batch of soup from everything you would have otherwise thrown away. This is a staple in our house now since we saw this and we hope you’ll love it to!
4. Batch Cooking
Using the tips we’ve already mentioned you can set yourself up for the week by cooking in batches. Blanche all your greens in one go and after they’ve dried on the baking sheet, ball them up, wrap and refrigerate for 2 or 3 days. You can also then freeze these balls in a single layer overnight, then transfer to a resealable zipper bag for up to two months! These frozen balls can go straight from the freezer into any casserole, chilli, stew etc that you might be cooking up.
As with the blanche method, batch cooking all your vegetables can save valuable time later. Simply when you dish your meal out put any leftovers into sealable Tupperware that can either be refrigerated for use within a couple days or frozen for longer term.
We have bags of chopped roasted squash, carrots, potatoes, balls of greens and scrap soup frozen ready to go at a moments notice. This really does make a difference long term if you’re wanting to commit to a healthy lifestyle, as it provides an option when time is short.
This can turn into a great family tradition, getting the kids involved in preparing healthy, nutritious lunches/dinners for the week. This saves you ever having to throw away veg through not having time to prepare it and may just stave off the takeaway for another week!