Health & Wellbeing

Healthy family meals with seasonal vegetables

Cooking with the seasons is good for your health, the environment and your wallet. It’s even good for our farmers because choosing local produce means supporting local businesses. Autumn is great for root vegetables like pumpkin and sweet potato, and for hearty, warming meals that are easy to get to the table.


PUMPKIN-PARMESAN SOUP WITH GOAT CHEESE CROSTINI

A good root vegetable soup can be a versatile way to feed the family without breaking the bank. This one-pot soup is fast, easy and cheap and is a terrific way to use up bread that’s gone a bit stale, as well as the end of a wedge of parmesan once you’ve grated all you can. You could even show the kids how to make this meal, so they build their confidence in the kitchen too. Chopping the pumpkin is the hardest part – from then on, it’s as easy as boiling a pot of water. Note: You’ll need a hand-held stick blender for this recipe—it’s what makes this soup so easy to make.

Serves: 6

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Whole butternut pumpkin (or two halves if you’re worried about getting one that’s no good on the inside)
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 20g parmesan rind
  • Day-old baguette
  • 150g goat’s cheese
  • 2 tablespoons double cream (optional)
  • Handful of pepitas (to garnish)

Method:

Chop the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds with a soup spoon and chop the rind off. Cut the pumpkin in to cubes. Put the parmesan rind into the bottom of a big saucepan, add the pumpkin and pour the stock over the lot. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for about 10 minutes until the pumpkin is soft and easy to squash with a fork against the side of the saucepan.

While the pumpkin is cooking, pre-heat the grill. Cut the baguette into slices not more than 3 centimetres thick. Cut the goat cheese into slices around 5mm thick. Place a slice of cheese onto each of the baguette slices and arrange on a tray that can slide into the griller. Now, turn your attention back to the pumpkin. It should be nice and soft by now. Use a wooden spoon to fish around and find the remains of the rind. Take it out – it’s done its job and is no use any more. Use your hand-held stick blender to blend the stock and pumpkin together. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to season. Take the soup off the heat.

Slide the cheese-laden slices of baguette under the grill. Ladle the soup into bowls. Dollop a spoon of cream into the centre of the soup, crack some pepper and sprinkle the pepitas into the centre of the soup to create a focus in the bowl. Check under the grill – if the cheese has melted, then the bread will have toasted into crostini and all will be ready to serve. Pull the crostini from under the grill, arrange on a plate and serve with the soup.

STUFFED LAMB BREAST WITH ROAST VEGETABLES

When it comes to roast lamb, people tend to make a leg of lamb their first choice. But the beauty of roasting is that the slow-cooking process can unlock rich flavours from inexpensive cuts of meat. Often overlooked, lamb breast can make for a delicious roast if it’s wrapped around a flavourful stuffing. Breast is the fattiest of all butcher’s cuts, which makes for delicious drippings. Chump is also cost-effective and a boneless joint means no waste. To make the most of all the roasting juices, rest the meat on a rack of root vegetables like carrot, potato and parsnips in the bottom of the roasting tray. Tip: Leftover roast lamb can be used in sandwiches for school lunches. If you have access to a microwave, then roast vegetables can easily be re-heated for an easy workday lunch.

Serves: 4

Cooking time: 2 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Roasting foil (it’s aluminium foil, but wider than usual so you can wrap it around the whole roast)
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 45g unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary, chopped thyme, chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed with 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 60g breadcrumbs
  • 90g lamb mince
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 large boned breast of lamb
  • 2 carrots, potatoes
  • 1 large parsnip

Method:

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Crack the egg into a large bowl and beat it with a whisk. In a small frypan, melt the butter. Cook the onion on a medium heat, just until it starts to turn transclucent. Stir in the rosemary, then the thyme and then the garlic. Cook for 3 minutes, take it off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Tip the onion mixture into the bowl with the egg. Add the grated nutmeg, orange zest, black pepper, breadcrumbs. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Add the mince and mix together with your hands. Lay the lamb breast flat acoss a flat surface, with the skin side down. Spoon the stuffing out in an even layer across the lamb. Roll it up lengthways, or along the short edge depending on the size of your roasting pan. Tie the rolled lamb with string at 1 inch intervals. Prepare the foil. Lay the foil out flat and spread a thin layer of oil across it. Place the rolled lamb in the centre. Wrap well by folding the short edges in first, then the long layers. Fold it so you can easily open it up later without having to handle the whole roll out of the pan. Put the lamb in a roasting tray on a rack and roast for 95 minutes.

While the lamb is cooking, peel and chop the vegetables lengthways. Turn the oven up to 200°C. Take the tray out of the oven, and the lamb and rack out of the tray. Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into the tray. Add your peeled root vegetables. Toss to cover the vegetables in the oil. Add a pinch of salt.

Take the lamb out of the foil and carefully lay it on top of the vegetables. Be sure not to let any of the roasting juices spill. Save the foil, you’ll be using it again soon. Tip the roasting juices from the foil over the vegetables. Put the lamb and vegetables in the oven for 25 minutes. Once finished cooking, take the tray from the oven and cover it with the foil. Allow the meat to rest for 20 mins for a really tender roast. Carve the lamb into thick slices, and serve with the roasted vegetables.

FARMER’S FAVOURITE LASAGNE

When it comes to roast lamb, people tend to make a leg of lamb their first choice. But the beauty of roasting is that the slow-cooking process can unlock rich flavours from inexpensive cuts of meat. Often overlooked, lamb breast can make for a delicious roast if it’s wrapped around a flavourful stuffing. Breast is the fattiest of all butcher’s cuts, which makes for delicious drippings. Chump is also cost-effective and a boneless joint means no waste. To make the most of all the roasting juices, rest the meat on a rack of root vegetables like carrot, potato and parsnips in the bottom of the roasting tray. Tip: Leftover roast lamb can be used in sandwiches for school lunches. If you have access to a microwave, then roast vegetables can easily be re-heated for an easy workday lunch.

Serves: 4

Cooking time: 2 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Roasting foil (it’s aluminium foil, but wider than usual so you can wrap it around the whole roast)
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 45g unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary, chopped thyme, chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed with 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 60g breadcrumbs
  • 90g lamb mince
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 large boned breast of lamb
  • 2 carrots, potatoes
  • 1 large parsnip

Method:

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Crack the egg into a large bowl and beat it with a whisk. In a small frypan, melt the butter. Cook the onion on a medium heat, just until it starts to turn transclucent. Stir in the rosemary, then the thyme and then the garlic. Cook for 3 minutes, take it off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Tip the onion mixture into the bowl with the egg. Add the grated nutmeg, orange zest, black pepper, breadcrumbs. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Add the mince and mix together with your hands. Lay the lamb breast flat acoss a flat surface, with the skin side down. Spoon the stuffing out in an even layer across the lamb. Roll it up lengthways, or along the short edge depending on the size of your roasting pan. Tie the rolled lamb with string at 1 inch intervals. Prepare the foil. Lay the foil out flat and spread a thin layer of oil across it. Place the rolled lamb in the centre. Wrap well by folding the short edges in first, then the long layers. Fold it so you can easily open it up later without having to handle the whole roll out of the pan. Put the lamb in a roasting tray on a rack and roast for 95 minutes.

While the lamb is cooking, peel and chop the vegetables lengthways. Turn the oven up to 200°C. Take the tray out of the oven, and the lamb and rack out of the tray. Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into the tray. Add your peeled root vegetables. Toss to cover the vegetables in the oil. Add a pinch of salt.

Take the lamb out of the foil and carefully lay it on top of the vegetables. Be sure not to let any of the roasting juices spill. Save the foil, you’ll be using it again soon. Tip the roasting juices from the foil over the vegetables. Put the lamb and vegetables in the oven for 25 minutes. Once finished cooking, take the tray from the oven and cover it with the foil. Allow the meat to rest for 20 mins for a really tender roast. Carve the lamb into thick slices, and serve with the roasted vegetables.

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