Sunday, 16 March 2014

Veggie Garden Dreams: A week of meals from one fruit and veggie basket! (6 dishes including dessert!)

This week I was lucky enough to get a phone call from our family friends ordering us to go and pillage their overflowing veggie patch whilst they were on holidays. When I say veggie patch, I really mean market garden. Their backyard oasis is a veritable array of nearly every fruit and vegetable imaginable. It really is any cook or green thumb's dreamland. Juicy pears litter the ground, zucchinis the size of your arm hide underneath their fuzzy green leaves and the smell of basil wafts through the air. I really find it hard to contain my excitement at seeing these beauties in their natural state not a fluorescent light or fake wooden crate in sight.


The resurgence of the backyard veggie patch is a trend I wholeheartedly embrace. I do have to admit my attempts at my own little veggie plot have been up and down over the last couple of years. Enthusiasm wasn't the issue but time and the effort required whilst managing the two babies was a bit much for me up until recently, so growing my own veggies was put on hold. This week's little sojourn into the dirt has certainly moved restoring my veggie patch to the top of my to-do list. I like many others can only dream of a veggie plot the size of our friends but even just growing your own herbs is extremely satisfying not to mention the flavour it can add to your dishes.
 
Gorgeous Greens!
Seeing the kids enjoy this experience was so gratifying; they oohed and ahhed with each discovery, their excitement equaling that of any Easter egg hunt- and with a much healthier reward!
 

Upon returning home and taking inventory of our harvest my mind raced with recipe ideas to highlight the amazing produce. Since dinner time was quickly approaching my mind turned to another simple pesto recipe adding the eggplant it became Basil Pesto and Eggplant Pasta. Simple and delicious and yes the kids ate it!
 
From here...

 
...to here
After being rewarded with such a crop I decided to forgo the weekly trip to the supermarket and make the rest of the week's meals from what we had in the cupboard and include as much of our veggie haul as I could. It is surprising how much you can come up with when limiting yourself to pantry staples and some seasonal fresh produce.

The next day the usual sandwich was replaced with Zucchini and Cheese Spelt Scones (recipe below), absolutely delicious and definitely a recipe I will be repeating! It fed the four of us for lunch, even more satisfying when you can sneak in some veggies for the kids at lunchtime!
 

 
Zucchini and Cheese Spelt Scones
The leftover eggplant was grilled in some olive oil, salt and pepper and used for our weekly pizza night. I also retrieved some capsicum (from the same garden) from the freezer and made a yummy vegetarian pizza, certainly beats the antipasto out a jar!


The cucumber, zucchini and tomato also made it into two of my lunches inspired by Sarah Wilson's latest book I Quit Sugar for Life ; Great Grated Salad (I was too hungry to take a photo of this one!). Grating some zucchini, carrot, slices of cucumber and tomato I added some cheese and some sunflower and pepita seeds, drizzle of homemade dressing and voila! Yummy (carb free) lunch!

Crazy Cucumber!
Last night it was my favourite Pear and Walnut Salad (we added some grilled haloumi after the photo!), the pears were so sweet Miss M was eating them off the salad plate! We ate this with Potato Frittata made by my Mother-in-law so I got out of this meal easy!


Only one thing left to cook and that is dessert,  I am a sucker for Zucchini and Chocolate (you can find my Zucchini Chocolate Cake recipe here) so next on the weekly menu was Zucchini and Chocolate Cupcakes. Quicker than a cake cause when you need a chocolate fix you can't wait around! (refined sugar-free but I did sneak in a tiny bit of 70% chocolate into the mixture!). Finally had an opportunity to attempt some sugar-free icing using powdered milk and it worked a treat!


Zucchini and Chocolate Cupcake

Amazing what you can come up with when presented with fresh, healthy produce that you have pulled from the ground yourself!
 
Thanks to the Brunos for letting me pillage their amazing garden!

 
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Zucchini and Cheese Spelt Scones

Ingredients

1 cup plain flour
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup milk + 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice (or 1 cup buttermilk)
1/2 tsp paprika
1 medium zucchini, grated
1 cup tasty cheese, grated
3 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
1. Add lemon juice to milk and let stand for 5 minutes (if not using buttermilk)
2. Grate zucchini onto paper towel and squeeze out excess moisture
3. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder into bowl
4. Add salt and paprika to flour mixture
4. Stir in zucchini into bowl, separating strands
5. Add tasty and parmesan cheese and shallot
6. Stir together using knife
7. Once dough comes together turn out onto well floured surface and knead gently
8. Press into 2cm thick circle
9. Using scone cutter or floured glass cut out 10-12 scones
10. Brush scones with milk and place on lined baking tray
11. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden and bottom of scone sounds hollow

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Zucchini and Chocolate Cupcakes with Sugar-Free Powdered Milk Icing

Ingredients

3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup wholemeal plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
5 tbsp organic cocoa powder (or you can use cacao powder)
1 1/2 tbsp stevia powder (or you can use sugar)
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1/4 cup rice malt syrup (you can use honey)
40g 70% Dark chocolate
180g butter
2 eggs

Method

Preheat oven 170 degrees Celsius. Grease or line a 12 hole muffin tin and a 12 hole mini muffin tin (Yes this recipe made 12 normal size and 12 mini cupcakes!)

1. Grate zucchini onto paper towel and drain excess moisture
2. Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa into bowl. Add stevia and combine.
3. Place butter, rice malt syrup and dark chocolate in small saucepan on low heat. Stir occasionally and remove from heat once melted.
4. Let butter/chocolate mixture cool for 10 minutes before adding lightly whisked eggs. Stir to combine.
5. Pour butter/chocolate/eggs into bowl and stir gently to combine.
6. Spoon mixture into prepared muffin/cupcake tins to 3/4 full
7. Place trays in oven, bake mini muffins for approx. 10-12 mins. Normal size cupcakes will take approx. 15-18 mins in oven. An inserted skewer will return clean when cooked.

(Note: These muffins/cupcakes won't rise a lot, this is normal due to the dense mixture)



Sugar-Free Powdered Milk Icing

You can find the recipe for this on my previous post here (this time I used milk powder instead of soy-milk powder. The milk powder produces a creamier, less nutty-tasting icing and my preferred option!)

6 comments:

  1. Yum! So much more satisfying to bake with home grown goods (even when they aren't grown at your home)

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    Replies
    1. Yes definitely tastes better when you can see where its come from doesn't it Lila?!

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  2. Would love the recipe for that delicious looking pasta too please, Flick x

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Flick! Will write up the recipe for the pasta now!

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  3. Going to try the cheese spelt scones! Looks delicious. Thanks for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. Yes definitely give them a go Viv, they were really yummy and filling! Let me know how you go!

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Thanks for your comments!