September signals the end of harvest and is a bountiful time for fruit and vegetable fans. With summer’s last gasp and the school doors creaking open, budgets are tight, so hit farmer’s markets to make the most of the early autumn glut. Cheaper than vegetables but just as spectacular is September’s wild fruit and nut free-for-all, with blackberries, damsons, bullaces, elderberries and hazelnuts just waiting to be picked from a hedgerow near you. Even city dwellers can get involved, either on trips to the countryside or courtesy of a trusty local market. Whether or not you can get out of town for a day; Clive Martin of Cambridgeshire organic farm HolmSelect (www.holmselect.co.uk) has some top tips for vegetable lovers that everyone can enjoy.
French dwarf beans
With all the goodness of potassium, iron and vitamins A and C, these beans might be smaller than most but they still come with a full complement of nutrients. ‘They’re a really good late-summer type vegetable,’ adds Martin, who recommends steaming or stir-frying your beans to maximise flavour. HolmSelects’ Green Arrow beans are grown over a 10-week period from the end of July to September, making them extra crunchy.
‘It’s an up-and-coming vegetable,’ says Martin. ‘They’re great because they look fantastic and come in many different shapes, sizes and colours.’ A good source of vitamin C and potassium, squash also provide plenty of beta-carotene, a chemical that helps with cell production and good eyesight. The darker the skin of the squash; the more beta-carotene it contains.
‘Popular on the continent,’ according to Martin, artichoke is famous for cleansing the digestive system, and stocking your body with vitamin C and potassium in the process. A versatile vegetable, Martin says artichoke can be boiled, baked and more before it gets to your plate. ‘The hearts can be eaten with butter, sauce, or marinated,’ advises Martin. They can even be sliced thinly and served with pasta.
High in flavonoids, an antioxidant believed to protect against cancer and heart disease, onions give you more than bad breath, and when cooked right, they don’t even give you that. ‘September is the main season in this country for onions,’ says Martin, who describes onions as ‘very versatile.’ A good addition to almost any dish, onions are especially useful for flavouring soups and salads.
Hailing from the La Coruña region of Spain, these peppers are hotter when you harvest them in September; perfect for those who like to take risks with their supper. ‘They’re really hot - you never quite know what you’re going to be eating,’ says Martin. Admitting that Padrón peppers are ‘a little bit unusual,’ Martin nevertheless recommends baking them in olive oil and enjoying them as a starter or canapé.
Baked artichokes with breadcrumbs and Parmesan
Serve warm on its own, or alongside roasted meat or fish.
• 90g dry breadcrumbs
• 1 handful grated Parmesan cheese
• 2 tablespoons assorted fresh chopped herbs
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2 artichokes
To prepare your globe artichokes and follow steps one to three in our preparation guide above. While still warm, press the leaves gently back, leaving them attached, so that the artichoke resembled a flower. Pull out the small white and purple centre leaves and scrape out the choke (the fuzzy part) with a spoon. Preheat your oven to 190°C, 375°F, gas mark 5. Mix the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, herbs and oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pack the breadcrumb mixture onto the artichoke. Place on a baking dish and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. To eat the artichokes, pull the leaves off and scrape the soft base of the leaf off with your teeth. When you've finished the leaves, eat the rest.
Recipe courtesy of Abel & Cole, www.abelandcole.co.uk
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