We are going through a purple phase. The artichokes are flowering, the verbena is attracting the bees alongside the fading lavender and we’re eating purple meals.
The problem is that though the vegetables are growing fast (I turn my back for a moment to find the courgettes have doubled in size and the runner beans are almost a foot long) sometimes there are only a few of each ready at any one time. Rather than make lots of saucepans dirty, I make a vegetable stew based on Half the Garden Soup from The River Cottage Year book that uses small quantities of lots of different vegetables. Adding potatoes means another saucepan saved too. Not only is this easy to make but it varies as the season progresses.
I made the stew last week. One of our most successful vegetables at the moment is beetroot and I used quite a lot in the stew. Consequently, supper consisted of soft confit of rabbit leg perched atop a purple stained mound of vegetables and then, showing a distinct lack of planning in the visual department, we ate blackcurrant compote for pudding that was an even deeper purple. It was a very purple meal that reminded me of an art teacher we had at school whose wardrobe consisted almost entirely of purple clothes. I wonder if she still wears purple or if it was just a phase. Should you decide to make the stew, purple or otherwise, the recipe is below.
For four to six servings, depending on how many of each vegetable you use, fry 500g onions until they’re soft, add the same or more of chopped skinned tomatoes and when they’re soft and pulpy, pour in 300ml of water. Add a pinch of salt and some diced potato and simmer for ten minutes.
While it’s simmering roughly chop some or all of whatever’s growing in the garden such as carrots, beetroot, courgettes, peas, runner beans, French beans, pumpkin, squash, leeks, parsnips … and throw in the pot.
Simmer for another ten minutes or until the vegetables are only just tender and then add a mixture of finely shredded leaves such as chard, parsley, cutting celery or spinach and cook for two minutes or so, depending on how cooked you like your leaves.
I spoon this into a bowl rather than a plate as there’s quite a lot of liquid.
If I have a joint of cold roast pork in the fridge, I’ll cube it and fry in a knob of butter until crisp and then scatter over the vegetables.