Here’s a couple of fun facts for you:
- Lincolnshire produces over a quarter (28%) of all the Field vegetables grown in the United Kingdom and they’re in season NOW.
- East Lindsey has 73.8% of it’s population classed as overweight or obese, making it the 3rd worst Local Authority region in the whole of the United Kingdom
So, in simple terms we have approximately 100,000 overweight or obese people, huffing and puffing around feeling rubbish about themselves who are surrounded by acres and acres of healthy, nutritious green vegetables. Call us idealistic, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could take advantage of what nature has provided and find a way for us all to engage with this bounteous harvest to eat more healthily, save money AND support our local economy?
This blog champions some of the vegetables our region is world-renowned for, and will highlight some of the best ways of using them in your everyday cooking and snacking.
Lincolnshire is the home of Brassica vegetables in the UK, which include Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale and cabbages. They grow brilliantly on our silt soils and they are soooooo good for you it’s hard to fit all of their benefits in a single blog, so here’s just a few headlines:
- Pound for pound, Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts contains more Vitamin C than oranges
- Kale is one of Nature’s best sources of Vitamin K, essential for healthy blood function
- Dark green vegetables like Spring Greens are high in Lutein and Zeaxanthin which protect the eyes and reduce the effects of AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration)
- All brassica vegetables contain glucosinolates, which give them their slightly peppery taste. These little molecular bundles of joy protect the plants against pest and disease, but have also been shown in countless studies to lower the risk of cancers of the lung and digestive tract in humans.
As many of the nutrients found in green veg are water soluble, it’s never a good idea to boil them to death as this will cause the goodness to leach out and give your kitchen a grim, fart-like aroma that no amount of Febreze or essential oils can mask. Personally, I can never be bothered with the faff of a steamer either, so we tend to just drop them into half an inch of boiling, salted water (ALWAYS season your water), put on the lid and half boil/half steam them for 2-3 minutes to retain their bite and goodness. If you have any residual water left in the pan, use it elsewhere in your cooking like a vegetable stock.
If you’re using brassicas in their traditional form, as a Sunday lunch accompaniment, it’s best to cook them as above and then whilst warm in the pan, drizzle with olive oil (or add a knob of butter if you’ve been to two of our classes that week), a little squeeze of lemon juice and toss together. You’ll be amazed at how this brings out the flavour, and it’s a world away from the bland, tasteless guff you used to get down at the school canteen…
Roasting is a surprisingly good way of cooking brassica vegetables that retains all the goodness. Cooked dry and at high temperatures, a wondrous thing called the Maillard reaction happens on the surface of the veg that causes them to brown and develop a glorious, nutty flavour. Try floretting a cauliflower, tossing in a simple spice mix (ground coriander, turmeric, ground cumin or a combination of all three works well), a splash of vegetable oil and a teaspoon of red wine vinegar. Roast in the oven at 200°C for 15 minutes.
Kale, surprisingly, also roasts well and makes a brilliant healthy snack. Simply toss half a bag of pre-shredded kale with a couple of teaspoons of sesame oil, a decent pinch of salt and a teaspoon of Chinese five spice blend, then roast at 160°C for 10-12 minutes, turning with a spoon halfway through. Make sure you use your hands to coat the kale well, ensuring each leaf is covered.
Even better, for maximum healthy crunchiness you can eat brassicas raw. Forget gloopy, lardy, shop bought coleslaw that’s mixed up on a nightshift in a factory somewhere near Holbeach and buy yourself a lush, tender, fresh out the field sweetheart cabbage instead. Halve it, lay the flat side down and slice it as thinly as you can, then use a box grater to grate a whole carrot and a crunchy pear. Chop in a small handful of flat-leaf parsley, add a pinch of salt, the juice of half a lemon and a good lug of extra virgin olive oil, mix well and serve immediately.
Before we go, a quick note on how to store green vegetables. Brassicas are basically immature flowers and continue to respire (breathe) after harvest, so ALWAYS keep them in the fridge and if they’re looking a bit droopy, give them a drink (yes, really). If your broccoli starts to look a bit floppy and feel a bit rubbery (oo-err), simply trim the bottom of the stalk and place the base in an inch of water and it will perk up in no time – guaranteed to impress the neighbours… 😉
So get out there, find a farm shop, greengrocer or supermarket (it all comes from the same place anyway) and rejoice in the goodness our glorious countryside provides, whilst you still can.
Be good to yourselves
Gav & Emma xx