27 May 2013

Eat with your eyes

After spending a couple of hours sorting out my photos from the Chelsea Flower Show (post coming very soon!), I wandered down to the veg patch on this beautiful sunny day.  I've been a bit busy recently so I'm pleased to see that the garden is doing it's own thing and looking very lush without me (apart from a bit of watering and transplanting).

As I uprooted a couple of tiny orache seedlings, the word 'lunch' popped into my head.  I gathered a few more seedlings, added some white viola flowers and a few blue borage flowers, a pinch of herbs*  - feathery fennel, lime mint, celery leaf, lemon balm (a mistake), sweet cicely (yum) and golden oregano (because the colour is stunning).

Herbs 27May

Back upstairs, with the herbs and leaves being refreshed in a bowl of icy water, I picked a few outer leaves** from Lollo Rosso, Saladin and beetroot growing on my windowsills.

Windowsill Lettuce

On my tiny balcony, baby leaves of frilly red mustard, bijou lettuce, black peppermint, nasturtium (Blue Pepe, Empress of India and variegated Alaska, but sadly no flowers yet), coriander (yum), flat-leaved parsley and chives were collected and added to a wash bowl.

Balcony leaves & herbs

As I cleaned and finely chopped, little pebbles of Jersey Royal potatoes boiled in a pan, after which they were glazed with Spanish olive oil, Cornish sea salt and garden mint.  Many of these didn't make it to the plate - I adore warm new potatoes!

The leaves were drained, dumped into a clean tea-towel and dried by swinging said cloth back and forth. All was plonked on a plate, the flowers and a few herbs added over the top, more olive oil drizzled over the top, a squeeze of lemon and ....

Nearly there salad

... no, needs a bit more colour.  Into the fridge where I unearthed some cherry tomatoes and baby orange peppers.  Nice.

Salad finished

Yum.  Healthy.
Until I found the ice-cream.

* I wouldn't normally put this many herbs into one salad but was in the mood to experiment having just read Jono's post on Lemon Balm.  With hindsight, adding lemon balm to this salad was every kind of wrong. I only put a tiny bit in and yet it still dominated. It's probably best to use it sparingly by itself where it can take the floor and shine.  Parsley, cicely and chives on the other hand were delicious.

** I'm not yet brave enough to 'cut and come again', leaving the plant to reshoot.  For now, I'm happy to just pick the large outer leaves with the comfort of being able to see what's still to come.
Michelle over at Veg Plotting, who started the Salad Challenge, has written a great post on different ways of harvesting your home-grown salad.

24 comments:

  1. That last photo is just amazing! That is the sort of salad I like - and so much better when it comes from your own garden. I agree about Lemon Balm. I no longer treat it as a culinary herb, but grow it because I like the look of the young foliage and the bees like the flowers in due course. Did you grow the potatoes? I think new potatoes are best after they have been allowed to cool to lukewarm. You can taste them better that way.

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    1. Thanks Mark! It IS lovely to have everything fresh from the garden, somehow makes the whole thing seem more vibrant than opening a bag from the supermarket! Sadly the potatoes were not grown by me; I have some on the go but they're not ready yet because I wasn't organised enough to get them planted in good time! Soon, though, I hope ....

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  2. Mmmmm - a veritable feast for the eyes and tummy too. I had to laugh at your last sentence Caro.

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    1. Haha! Well, I couldn't have you all thinking that I was THAT saintly! Love a bit of ice-cream when the sun's shining :D !!

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  3. Caro. The salad is amazing!!! It looks so beautiful. I love putting flowers on mine too. My husband loves flowery salad too. Is that plate an Emma Bridgewater?!
    Erin

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    1. Hey Erin! Thanks! Edible flowers in salads do perk up the look of it; can't wait until my calendula is ready - that's another one that can be added - but texture and crunch are important too! I confess the plate is a Waitrose bargain picked up at Christmas; I probably liked it because it's very similar to Emma Bridgewater designs, which I love.

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  4. That all looks, and sounds, rather delicious. Flighty xx

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    1. Thanks, Flighty! It was - especially the ice-cream!! C xx

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  5. What a beautiful plate of food, a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach, so colourful and tasty. I'm sure the ice cream was lovely too!

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    1. Indeed it was, Pauline! I blame Morrisons and all their special offers on ice-cream, hard to resist!! I also enjoyed the salad - but made even better because the sun was shining which, sadly, it hasn't done so for the past couple of days.

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  6. Yum! beautiful, and I'm sure tasty!

    Yes - lemon balm is best kept on its own, or as a tea, it just takes over everything. I also can't bring myself to cut-and-come again, and pick the outside leaves as well.

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    1. Hey Colin! Yes, it was really delicious, such a treat to have really fresh food, so pleased the salad season is getting into gear!
      I was given the Lemon Balm from a friend's garden so feel obliged to find uses for it. I love lemon herbal tea - picked up some delicious Lemongrass from Jekka McVicar at Chelsea. Will have to try lemon balm as well! Glad I'm not the only one wimping out on the lettuce cutting! ;)

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  7. I hope it tasted as good as it looks! I would love to include nasturtiums in a salad but mine get covered in black fly very early on. Still, it keeps them off my broad beans I guess.

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    1. I love salad so, yes, it was very tasty (except the lemon balm!). I've just been reading about protecting nasturtium flowers - I plant some around my broad beans specifically as sacrificial plants to attract blackfly away from my beans. My salad nasturtiums will be covered in a very fine mesh which will protect the plant from aphid attack. Worth a try if you don't want extra crunch in your salad!

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  8. Such a beautiful salad! How could anything that pretty not also taste wonderful!

    KK

    www.preppypinkcrocodile.com

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    1. Hi KK, thank you! and thanks for reading and commenting, and good luck with your new allotment! I always like to make food look nice with lots of colours - it's that mantra of trying to eat a rainbow of colours every day! (Doesn't always work, but I try!)

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  9. A wonderfully lovely salad!
    Happy Gardening!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie

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    1. Thanks Lea - and to you too! Thanks for stopping by to comment and thereby introducing me to your lovely blog. After a quick browse, I'll be going back to read more thoroughly. Love the wildflowers!

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  10. Everything tastes so much nicer when you've just been and picked it fresh from your own garden. It certainly looks delicious.

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    1. That's certainly true, Jo! I just wish there was more of it to pick! Gathering food from the garden makes me feel like a real country girl and I think you're right, it does taste more delicious!

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  11. Oh yum, how lovely. And so varied too. With all the visitors this past month I have utterly failed to sow seed for mustards, nasturtiums etc, but at least I was able to give everybody home grown salads. I am also feeling slightly relieved that I hadn't got around to sowing the lemon balm either, at least I am now forwarned, for which, thank you!

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    1. Hi Janet! I bet your guests were impressed with home-grown salads, especially given the awful weather we've had - and your bad weather lingered even longer! I have gone a bit potty this year with salad; I was inspired back in March to get sowing as part of VPs salad challenge. Nothing like a challenge to focus the seed sowing fingers!! My lemon balm was gifted from a friend and has stayed firmly in its pot!

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  12. Caro...these are some of the prettiest salads I've ever seen. I have saved your photos so that I can look at these for inspiration. Thank you for the post!!

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    1. Hi Erin, Glad to have inspired! I like my food to look beautiful and it gets easier as I can pick things from the garden. After long English winters, I want to see colour in the garden and on my plate so I think about colour variations when I plant: Marigolds next to Bulls Blood Beetroot for example - it's a riot of colour!

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Caro x

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