The other day, I published a post singing the praises of the Brussel sprout plant for its ability to feed me twice. My sprouts are now well past their best, but I’ve been treated to a couple of side dishes courtesy of the tasty sprout tops.
This little bonus got me thinking, especially after Alan from It’s Not Work, It’s Gardening pointed out that beetroots also share this double-feed quality. Are there other veg out there that provide me with two different meal opportunities? These (sometimes tenuous) answers are what I came up with:
Beetroots are one of my favourite veg to grow – dead-easy and really delicious. What Alan pointed out (and something I’ve not realised) is that the leaves are added to salads. A quick check on some salad packs in the supermarket confirmed that beet leaves are slipped into many of the leafy salads on sale.
Alan has been trying to convert his neighbour, who, like me, never considered eating the leaves of his beets.
Alan, if you fail with your neighbour, you’ve got one convertee here. I’ll be trying this come summer.
Pumpkins and Squashes
I grow as many squashes as possible during summer as they’re delicious, expensive to buy (I’m saving an average of £1.73 per squash at the mo), and keep for ages, as well as a few pumpkins because they’re great fun to grow.
The daft thing is, I always just discard the seeds, despite many people (including Ailsa) regularly munching on roasted seeds as a healthy snack. The muesli I tuck into at breakfast contains them too.
Squash and pumpkin seeds can both be roasted, and both fruits will spill out handfuls of the things when cutting open. I’ll be trying this soon too…
Okay – as a ‘double-feeder’ this one’s a bit borderline, but here goes:
When I thin my carrots, I keep the little baby seedlings that I pull out, and pop them into salads. They’re really sweet and crunchy, and the early varieties especially have given me a carrot taster while the main crop grows on happily in the ground.
I’m sure there aren’t that many ploholders out there who actively grow an elder tree, so this isn’t strictly an allotment plant, but I love the heady scent and aromatic flavour of the elderflower so much that I couldn’t resist including it. And I reckon that elder is so common, that there must be one within 5 minutes of any plot or garden.
Elderflower cordial is one of my favourite drinks, and poured over ice with a mint leaf is surely the most refreshing taste of the summer. It is also used a lot in jams and sorbets, especially alongside gooseberry.
I’ve bulked up a blackberry jam with the little blackberries too, and my homebrewing mate Dave shared a perfectly passable elderberry wine with me last summer…
In the past, I have tended to just use the leaves of chard like I do spinach – steamed, blanched, or simply folded into curries, etc. However, mum told me that I was missing a trick and that I should also eat the chunky stems as I would asparagus. As per usual, mum’s right, and these crunchy sections are excellent. I’ve also thrown a few in stir-fries like pak choi, and they’re great.
A little Googling also told me that some people use cauliflower leaves and stem in broths and soups, as well as celery leaves chopped up in salads as a sub for parsley. I’m also partial to a blackcurrant leaf tea from time to time.
These choices are largely based on my experience, but I’m wondering if there are more? Does anyone else make use of parts of the plant other than the traditional bits?
I’d love to hear from you.