The hot nights of last week brought us outside at sunset, riding bikes and waiting for the house to cool to sleep. I always joke that we can grow every vegetable here “medium” as we are not too warm for cool loving crops, like lettuce and broccoli, but not too frigid for the heat lovers, like the tomatoes and peppers. The growing season is a bit of a roller coaster ride, depending on the weather the different types of crops thrive. The heat wave last week induced incredible growth in the tomatoes and peppers, although no ripening white yet! They look big and happy. The kale on the other hand wilted and looked miserable no matter the amount of water it received.
This week we are planting the winter chicories, plus more cabbage and broccoli. The winter field is growing beautifully!
This week’s pick list:
Parsley, Basil, Cilantro, Dill
Puy lentil and aubergine stew, from ottolenghi.co.uk
3 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra to serve
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 large red onion, finely chopped (160g)
½ tbsp picked thyme leaves
2 small aubergines, cut into chunks, about 5 x 2cm (420g)
200g cherry tomatoes
180g Puy lentils
500ml vegetable stock
80ml dry white wine
100g crème fraîche
1/2 - 1 tsp ground chiles
2 tsp picked oregano leaves
salt and black pepper
Put 2 tablespoons of oil into a large, high-sided sauté pan and place on a medium high heat. Add the garlic, onion, thyme and ¼ teaspoon of salt and fry for 8 minutes, stirring often, until soft and golden. Tip into a bowl, leaving the oil behind. Set aside.
Place the aubergines and tomatoes in a bowl and season with ¼ teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper. Add the remaining oil to the same pan (don’t worry about wiping it clean) and, once very hot, add the aubergines and tomatoes. Fry for 10 minutes, on medium high, turning them often until the aubergine is soft and golden-brown and the tomatoes are beginning to blacken. Return the garlic and onion to the pan, then add the lentils, stock, wine, 450ml of water and ¾ teaspoon of salt. Bring to the boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer gently for about 40 minutes, until the lentils are soft but still retain a bite.
Serve warm, or at room temperature, with a dollop of crème fraîche, a drizzle of oil and chilli flakes and oregano on top.