Friday 26 September 2008

Making the most of allotment produce

Spinach beet and torta pasqualina.

After breaking your back on the allotment all your spare time, the last thing you would want is to throw away any green stuff. Usually, though, when something is in season you get far too much of it, albeit for a very short period of time, as family and friends of allotment holders surely know.

Well, the spinach beet that has grown from self-seeding is doing very well, so that I cannot keep up with it (why do slugs not exterminate it as they do with the rest, I wonder?). Anyway, each time I do a round of leaves I come home with some two pounds (they are so big I can hardly carry them home on my bike!) so now I have to figure out ways of using them that are not too boring (not another two pounds of boiled beet, no!!!).

So I have at times resorted to the Pizzoccheri della Valtellina recipe, a very hearty meal that I cook with cabbage, chard/beet, potatoes AND French beans... always one of my favourites and you almost get your 5-a-day with it! However I have run out of pizzoccheri and forgot to have some sent from Italy, so I thought of the next best recipe I know: torta pasqualina.

I had never actually made one myself before, and I had not been cooking anything serious (apart from pizza) since we came to the UK more than three years ago - for personal reasons of incompatibility with the oven, more than anything else, really!

But, you see, that's what your allottment makes you do! I decided to have a go, resuscitated my tools and... it was easier than expected and the result outstanding! Proof of the pudding: the two of us got rid of it in just two meals! If you read Italian, this is the recipe I loosely followed.

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