Riverford Companions – Autumn and winter veg by Guy Watson, Riverford Organic Farms Ltd, 2015.
Riverford Organic Farms is a very popular Vege Box/ Meal Kit supplier in the UK. I know a few people who get boxes from Riverford, and one of them gave us this cookbook circa 2016. I have rarely used it so thought it was time to give it a whirl.
The book is organised by vegetable, A-Z, and I assume covers the vegetables they supply over autumn, winter. There us another volume for spring/summer. The selection covers the range we grow in our garden or can get at the market over autumn, winter. The only think I have never tried is salsify and I have to confess, that it doesn’t look very appealing.
We have a surfeit of chard in the garden at the moment, so I started in the spinach and chard chapter lemony chicken and chard curry, p270. The actual recipe specified spinach which doesn’t grow well in our garden so I always substitute chard. This was a winner chicken dinner. I tend to cook with Italian and Middle Eastern flavours these days and I really enjoyed the warmth of the Indian spices for a change. This dish was great because it had a creamy quality although there was no cream. May have frozen well but didn’t get the chance as I enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the next day.
For soup Monday I made kale, farro and chorizo soup, P140. The recipe says spelt, but I didn’t have any and I did have farro which I love. I did buy kale but could have just as easily used chard. I did substitute passata for the tomatoes. A definite make again soup. Could leave out the chorizo and up the chilli flakes.
For a family supper I made leek and cheese macaroni, p154. Another great adaptable meal. This is macaroni cheese with leeks. I cooked the leeks down until they were almost melting which gave a delicious depth. I added English mustard powder to the sauce rather than Dijon because I like it and I did not have smoked cheddar, however the Linkwater cheddar I used is very flavourful. I added frozen peas because the little kitchen helper likes them with his pasta. You could add any blanched green vegetable, but this is equally delicious with just the leeks.
I had some chicken mince in the freezer, which is rather unusual as I don’t think I’ve ever cooked with it before and there was a recipe for turkey meatball broth with greens, p60, so I made chicken meatballs with savoy cabbage. This was another winner. I used savoy cabbage but chard would also be great here.
I wanted to pick the last of the carrots and beetroot which corresponded perfectly with the recipe for roast beetroot and potatoes with red onions, balsamic vinegar and rosemary, p29. When I foraged in the garden, there was in fact only one small beetroot left so, setting the leaves aside for a salad, I halved the wee beetroot and included a few baby carrots. I halved small waxy potatoes, the beetroot, unpeeled but well scrubbed, left the carrots whole and cut a red onion into wedges. The vegetables were sauteed in butter on top of the stove for 5-10 minutes until slightly coloured then a good slosh of balsamic vinegar was added to the pan along with a tablespoon of finely chopped rosemary leaves and salt and pepper. The dish then went in a hot oven, 200°C, and roasted for about half an hour until everything was cooked. Another versatile recipe where you could swap the vegetables around depending what you have in the garden, pantry. I served this with some venison steaks I had in the freezer and because I had some kale left from Monday’s soup, I made kale with currants and sherry vinegar, p131. The recipe suggests raisins however I prefer currants for their slight tartness. Soak a handful of currants in boiling water. Whisk 2 tbsp of sherry vinegar with 3 tbsp olive oil and mix in the drained currants. Wilt some shredded kale in a pan and mix through the dressing.
The final recipe was Brussels sprouts and pancetta pasta with sage and roast garlic cream, p42. I used up the savoy cabbage from the meatballs dish which worked very well but I am keen to do this with sprouts. I also didn’t take the time to roast the garlic, so I added it to the onions once they were cooked down. I didn’t blanch the cabbage but just added it finely sliced to the onion mix and let it cook down a little before adding the pasta. I didn’t have penne so use casarecce, and although the recipe doesn’t suggest it, and I didn’t on this occasion, I think you could add a pinch of chilli flakes.
One of these things I love about this book is that for every vegetable there is an introduction on storage, preparation and different basic cooking methods and ideas on what to eat it with. And with each recipe there are ideas for variations and substitutions. The perfect approach to using what you have on hand. I had started out thinking that perhaps I didn’t need this book, but it is in fact a great ideas manual for cooking from your winter garden. However as all the recipes in the book, (apart from roasted beetroot and potatoes), plus many more are on the website, I have bookmarked Riverford Organic Farms and sent the book to a new home.