Harvest Festival…All Things Bright & Beautiful!

We so often associate Thanksgiving as an North American celebration that it’s almost hard to remember that it was the early English Puritan settlers who took the idea of harvest thanksgiving there in the first place.

Some local churches are celebrating harvest festival this Sunday, in support of the Bring Home the Harvest campaign, part of the current British Food Fortnight which encourages community organisations and schools to learn more about UK food and support British producers. So why not go along and join in – it’s an opportunity for the community to come together to give thanks for farmers, cooks and food, and to celebrate and eat together. As the Church of England‘s national rural officer puts it:

“Harvest Festival is not just a quaint tradition carried on by the rural church but an opportunity in the modern world to reconnect with food, farming and the countryside. (It) is also a time to have fun in praising God and to share food together.”

Or why not pop along to the RHS London Harvest Festival Show next Tuesday or Wednesday. Unlike the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, this one only costs a fiver and is a foodie feast (rather than a pure visual experience) celebrating the taste of autumn with some of the best growers in UK displaying their bounty and UK home-grown produce to see, taste and buy.

Along with summer we bid farewell to some vegetables that we won’t see again for awhile, like salads, cucumbers and big round juicy red tomatoes (although there may see be some cherry tomatoes around). And like celeriac last week, the arrival of fennel tells us that winter is nigh.

Remove and discard stalks and tough outer layer around the fennel bulb, but keep the fennel tops to add back at the end as they are very pretty (they look like dill) and edible.

  • The aniseed flavour of fennel makes a wonderful pairing for fish, so try it in an easy-peasy fennel gratin. Or skip the cream for a lighter fennel bake option.
  • Many veg you don’t know what to do with can be made into risotto (or soup for that matter) so try fennel and lemon risotto. It isn’t as difficult as it may appear – simply chop up the fennel and cook along with the chopped onions and garlic, then follow the directions on your risotto rice pack and finish with some grated parmesan, lemon zest/juice and/or parsley. Similar to fish, this would pair well with prawns.
  • Simply roast or braise as halves or quarters with olive oil, and garlic and/or a squeeze of lemon. Pairs well with roasted or pan-fried chicken or pork, both also great with apples (whole or quartered, cored).
  • Slice very thinly to add to coleslaw or as a salad on its own with smoked salmon.
  • Ideas above came from Martha Stewart’s 25 recipe suggestions for fennel, but check the link out for more ideas.

Gem squash is also in the box for those with the no-potatoes option. Here’s how to serve up baked stuffed gem squash:

  • Half the gem squash, scoop out the seeds
  • Fill with any combination of chopped onions and/or canned tomatoes, mince or grated/soft/goats cheese, olives and even rice or orzo.
    • If using onions and/or mince than it’s worth frying those up until tender and browned before stuffing.
    • If including rice or orzo then make sure there is enough moisture from the chopped tomatoes or simply add a little water.
  • Wrap up in foil and bake until tender.

The mild and sweet, creamy and delicate flesh which should just melt in your mouth! Here’s a photo of the same but with summer squash.

This Week’s Bounty

Standard Box
* Valour Potatoes, Perry Court
* Onions, Kent
* Purple Carrots, Lancs
* Broccoli, Kent
* Fennel (with tops), Kent
Spinach, Perry Court
Sweetcorn, Kent
Celery, Lancs
Small Box
Items starred (*) above

No-Potato Substitute
Gem squash, Kent

Fruit Supplement
Kiwis, Italy (standard box only)
Gala Apples, Kent

 

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