By Ren Behan
I’m always looking for ways to use up fresh veggies since there are always great offers to be found on seasonal vegetables or at the farmers’ market. If you sign up to a veg box scheme or are a keen home-grower, you might also have some unusual veg to use up or be blessed with a glut.
Soups and salads are the way forward when it comes to using up lots of veggies. I always have the basics to hand; onions, celery and carrots. All you need then are a few fresh herbs and pretty much any vegetables you have to use up can be added in too. At this time of year, a Spring Minestrone is a great recipe to play around with. Jamie uses a whole host of veggies including fennel, asparagus, Romanesco cauliflower, baby courgettes, plum tomatoes, spring onions, garlic, green beans, yellow beans, peas and broad beans – but you can add whatever spring vegetables you have to hand. Adding spaghetti turns this soup into an easy one-pot meal and you can add some tinned beans, such as cannellini beans or green lentils to make it go even further.
Lots of vegetables can also be chargrilled or put on the BBQ. Courgettes, aubergine, peppers, fennel, asparagus and red onions all work well. You can either slice your veggies thinly lengthways or chop them into chunks and spike them onto some skewers. A simple dressing of lemon juice, olive oil and a few fresh herbs will also lift the flavours, or follow the steps in Jamie’s Rive Café inspired recipe for Chargrilled marinated vegetables. Once you have grilled your vegetables, you can serve them hot or cold. They make a great jacket potato filling topped high with cream cheese. For a summer picnic, slice a freshly baked loaf in half lengthways and fill it up with your grilled veggies, or simply serve your veggies with cooked pasta or cous cous as a tasty salad.
Finally, stir-frying is another great way to use up almost any kind of vegetables. The trick is to slice your vegetables as thinly as possible so that they take just a few minutes in a hot pan or wok to cook. Jamie’s recipe for Stir-fried vegetables with cabbage, chillies, garlic, mange tout and water chestnuts is one of our family favourites, all finished off with a drizzle of sesame oil and a generous helping of sesame seeds.
Ren Behan is a mum of two and a food writer – find out more at www.renbehan.com