Feature

Forage, grow, feast

rohan-story
Tarragon-broad-beans

Tarragon broad beans.

Chargrilled-eggplant

Chargrilled eggplant dip.

walnuts

Dried walnuts.

sundried-toms

Semi-dried tomatoes.

Rohan-zucc-story

Hot zucchini relish

Whole Larder Love

These recipes are from the book Whole Larder Love by Rohan Anderson, published by Viking, $29.99.

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Walnut Farfelle

Walk down an urban backstreet, into a park, through paddocks, or down country lanes and there’s a high probability you are walking past free food. I have a mental picture of where all my good foraging spots are; I’m a walking GPS unit. The forager’s code is never tell anyone your good spots. I’m happy to share, as long as I know where you live. It’s an I−can−tell−you−but−then−I’d−have−to−kill−you kind of thing.

Over the years I’ve gotten to know my local haunts fairly well. If you asked (and as I explained, it’s polite not to) I could tell you where there is a fig tree hanging over a neighborhood fence; a patch of nettle; an infestation of sweet blackberries; a dark forest valley laden with mushrooms; and the highly coveted location of mature walnut trees. It is highly coveted because walnut trees take a very long time to mature and become prolific producers of nuts. If keen foragers know its location, it’s sure to get a good hammering. Each year rain, hail, or snow, I’ll drag the kids out with buckets and collect the fallen nuts at one of our spots. Luckily for us there is a playground nearby where the kids retire after five minutes of collecting. I don’t mind. We usually make a game of who can collect the most in the least amount of time. Because the nuts have been out in the elements, we normally place them in the room with the fireplace, on the mantle, or on trays on the floor for at least a week to dry them out.

If I actually had the patience for baking I’d probably be making cakes, slices, and cookies. But the way to treat these beautiful nuts with the utmost respect is by making a pesto.

500 g farfalle
1 cup foraged walnuts (free just tastes better)
Large bunch fresh basil
1 ½ cups parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup olive oil
Salt
Pepper

Warning: This meal may contain traces of nuts.

- Crack the nuts open, remove the good bits, discard the shells.
- Using a food processor mash the nuts to a fine consistency then set aside in a bowl.
- Place fresh basil in the processor and whiz it up fine, then return the processed nuts and grated parmesan.
- Mix on a slow setting, while drizzling the olive oil into the processor.
- Cook the farfalle al dente. When cooked and drained, return it to the pot it was cooked in and stir in the pesto. Mix well.
- Serve with a good grate of parmesan cheese, a dressing of olive oil, and cracked salt and pepper.

Semi-dried tomatoes

At the peak of summer, tomatoes are just starting to ripen. You’ll devour them in salads, as bruschetta, roasted, and as sauce. One other way to harness that summer goodness is to ‘sun dry’ your excess tomatoes. Now, if you live in sunny areas you could lay sliced tomatoes on trays in the hot dry sun turning them occasionally to get that beautiful dry sweetness. Well I live in a cool climate so I cheat. It’s a very simple process; all you need is tomatoes and an oven. No fancy dehydrating gear, no warm climate. Just an oven and a bucketload of ripe tomatoes.

I use these sweet beauties cooking with a hot kasundi sauce, in salads, or just as tapas. If you let some burn just a little, they caramelise. And they taste amazing after their flavour is concentrated by storing them jarred in olive oil.

Ripe tomatoes
Olive oil

- Slice the tomatoes lengthwise into 4-6 slices (depending on the size of the tomatoes). Don’t worry about the seeds, if some fall out, no matter.
- Take the tray grills out from the oven and preheat the oven to the lowest setting. For my oven it’s 60°C, convection.
- Here’s the trick. Jam a pencil in the door so the oven isn’t sealed. Lay the sliced tomatoes directly on the wire racks and return to the low-heat, semi-opened oven and roast until they shrivel up and some even char a little. This should only take around an hour, but check on them regularly.
- Allow to cool. Transfer the tomatoes into sterilised jars and fill with olive oil ensuring all tomatoes are covered. Allow oil to sink and fill into all the cracks between the tomatoes and top up if necessary as any tomatoes exposed may spoil.

Hot Zucchini Relish

Near the end of summer, I often tell myself I must plant less zucchini next year, but when the time comes I always seem to plant more. Zucchini is a wonderful vegetable to grow, as it doesn’t require much work, the seeds are easy to raise, and the zucchini itself tastes great in so many forms. You can even eat the flowers stuffed and fried in batter. When you have a glut of this lovely vegetable, or just want something to top your hot dog, burger, or toasted sandwich, then this is perfect. A good mix of sweet, sour and heat.

These measurements are a base. If you have double the amount of zucchini then double the amount of everything. Savvy?

6 cups zucchini, chopped (any variety, hopefully home grown)
2 onions
3 fresh chillies
½ green capsicum
½ red capsicum
½ yellow capsicum
1 ½ cups sugar
2 cups vinegar
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
Olive oil

- Chop the vegetables (somewhere between rough
and fine).
- Place the vegies (except for the chilli) in a large mixing bowl and cover with salt. Mix well and let it sit overnight.
- In the morning, drain the liquid that has formed from the bowl. Don’t drink it.
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, add the drained vegetables and cook stirring often for at least 10 minutes. This process will soften the veg.
- When the veg is cooked through, add the sugar, vinegar, spices, and finely chopped chilli. Stir well and
simmer for 30 minutes.
- Decant in to sterilised jars and label “See, I Can Make Relish.”

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These recipes are from the book Whole Larder Love by Rohan Anderson, published by Viking, $29.99

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