From Planter to Plate


As the first days of spring are upon us and we have been blessed with some beautiful dry sunny days, my thoughts have turned to gardening (I use this term lightly as I don’t so much have a garden as a few pots dotted around outside) and how food preferences start to change at this time of year.
I myself start to think about fresher, lighter foods such as salads, soups and an amazing smoked tofu burger that I came across recently that I think definitely deserves a mention…(I will include the recipe below for any burger lovers). So with this combination of blue skies and the change of season, I am determined to make the most of my little plant pots this year.
One day I hope to have a garden big enough to grow my own fruit and vegetables but for now I will love and tend to my pots as much as I would for my future garden (my mum would be very proud, this day has been a long time coming). I am going to try and select herbs that I know I will use in cooking so they are useful as well as aesthetically pleasing! I always love to have Rosemary, it is so easy to grow and literally does take on a life of its own (even though I pretend that it is all my hard work :)). It can be used in so many different ways from adding to roasted vegetables and stews to infusing oil.
Another few of my favourites are Thyme, Chives, Basil (although this I am yet to conquer), Oregano, Chillies and Sage. I also love growing tomatoes – as long as they have got lots of warmth, sunlight, water and love, they will do amazingly and offer tomato rewards all summer long. Everything else is still a bit of a learning curve but finding the right methods by trial and error is all part of the fun (I think). I successfully grew a couple of chillies last year thanks to some beautiful hot sunny days and even though they were tiny, they definitely worked – to say they were hot was an understatement!
So from planter to plate, there is something really special about being able to use your own ingredients. I often find that some of the simplest recipes can be the best ones. One recipe that I used frequently over the winter and will continue to use throughout the summer months is a delicious roasted tomato soup, which is also a great way to use some of the freshly grown basil and tomatoes from the garden. A classic dish that is (almost) impossible to get wrong. I also can’t resist simple roast potatoes – chopped into chunks and roasted in the oven with some rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper and a dash of paprika.
Something that I think goes great with chives is a potato salad – just by mixing up some lovely cooked new potatoes, spring onions, chives, mayonnaise and seasoning with lots of pepper, this can be a great accompaniment to many a barbecue. I also love salads as they are so versatile and there are so many different varieties that can be mixed and matched to suit any meal or just as a meal within itself. A lot of time is spent experimenting with different combinations, lentils and beans are a great addition to any salad, especially aduki beans to give an extra nutty earthy flavour. Other salad favourites include fruit, raw vegetables, roasted seeds, nuts, flavoured tofu, quinoa and bulgur wheat. The salad possibilities are endless!
I have included some recipes below if anyone fancies a dabble!

Roast Tomato Soup

1lb 8oz (700g) medium ripe red tomatoes
1 small bunch fresh basil leaves
3 – 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, peeled and chopped
4 oz (110g) potato
1 heaped teaspoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
A shallow roasting tray about 13 x 13 inches (33 x 33cm)
Pre-heat oven to gas mark 5, 375 F (190 C)
1. Put the tomatoes in a bowl and pour over boiling hot water and leave for exactly 1 minute. Drain and take off the tomato skins.
2. Cut each tomato in half and lay on the roasting dish with the cut side facing
upwards. Sprinkle olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic over each one. And then top
with the basil leaves.
3. Put in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour.
4. 20 minutes before the tomatoes are cooked, boil the potatoes in 425ml of        water with the tomato puree and simmer for 20 minutes.
5. When the tomatoes are ready, scrape the whole lot into a food processer along with the potato and blitz until ready. 

Sunflower Seed Pudding

(I know this is more of a winter dish but it is so good and a good excuse to use the rosemary in the roast potatoes).
6oz whole wheat breadcrumbs
4oz sunflower seeds
1⁄2 pint milk
2 oz butter
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 heaped teaspoons dried mixed herbs
1 egg (if making a vegan version the egg can be left out and it works just as well)
Salt & pepper
You will need a high sided round casserole dish, lightly greased and a roasting tin for the roast potatoes.
Pre-heat oven to gas mark 4, 350 F (170 C)
1. Blitz the breadcrumbs and sunflower seeds in a food processor and mix together in a large bowl.
2. Stir in the onion, mixed herbs, salt and pepper.
3. In a saucepan melt the butter and then stir in the milk, heat until hot but do NOT boil.
4. Stir this into the breadcrumb mixture. Beat the egg and then add this into the mixture too, stirring well.
5. Prepare the roast potatoes ready to go into the oven with some rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.
6. Transfer the breadcrumb mixture into the casserole dish and place in the oven for 1 hour. This can be put at the bottom of the oven with the roast potatoes cooking on the top shelf.
7. Serve with green veg and gravy.

Smoked Tofu Burgers

Makes 6 – 8 burgers
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
420g can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
220g pack of smoked tofu, drained
75g sunflower seeds
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley
2 teaspoons vegetable bouillon powder

You will need a flat baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
Pre-heat oven to gas mark 7, 425 F (220 C)
1. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until well mixed but so that it still has some texture. (It may need pushing down with a spatula
2. Remove the blade and take handfuls of the mixture. Roll into a balls than place onto the tray and make a burger shapes.
3. Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Above shows a collection of products from our Falmouth store Hazel has selected as perfect companions to summer dinning. For more ideas and products to inspire your growing, cooking and al fresco dinning visit GardenKitchen and Outdoor Living, and follow our Instagram recipe stories here.