Liz Ashworth, author of our Walled Garden Recipe Book, has written some spring recipes using season produce currently in the garden. We hope you enjoy and if you make any of the recipes please share your pictures with us. 

“The garden looks bare just now, inert perhaps, but underground things it is a different story. Mother nature is at work. Snowdops and crocuses emerge as I write and daffodil leaves are pushing up through the soil to greet the chilly winter sunshine.

There is still garden produce to be had even in the cold winter months and here are a few recipes to whet your appetites for the start of the growing season and the fruits of this productive garden to come.”

BAKED BEETROOT
Simple to make. Serve as a vegetable hot or cold, with salads, or use as an ingredient in soups, sauces and dips.
Scrub the beetroot well, rub with a little butter or oil then wrap in foil and place into a roasting tin.  Bake at 180C (160C fan) 350F, Gas 4  up to one hour depending on size. Leave the beetroot to cool a little then don thick clean rubber gloves and gently rub off the skins, wash in hot water and serve hot. Alternatively leave to cool and chop, slice or grate to add to salads.

BEETROOT TZATZIKI
115g (4oz) thick Greek yoghurt
1 medium cooked beetroot – grated
1 clove garlic crushed (optional)
Chopped fresh dill, coriander or parsley
Olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper
Lemon juice
Drain the grated beetroot through a sieve for about ten minutes, press down gently using the back of a spoon to remove the liquid. Do this over the sink or a pan which will not stain pink!  Toss into a glass bowl and mix with the yoghurt, garlic, herbs, and a generous drizzle of olive oil and mix together. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to lift the flavour.
Serve as a dip with toasted bread, tacos even toast finger. Delicious with smoked fish such as mackerel, cold meats or hot fried fish.

OLD FASHIONED STEWED LEEKS
Amended from a recipes found in a book of household accounts dated 1737 to 1739 which describes a Scottish kitchen garden similar to Gordon Castle.
Serves 4 people
4 large leeks – trimmed and washed
Vegetable stock
15g ( ½ oz ) butter – softened
15g ( ½ oz ) flour
Sea salt and ground black pepper
Cut the leeks into thick rings and put into a pan, just cover with vegetable stock and bring to a simmering boil. Cover and cook till tender – about 20 minutes. Mix the butter and flour into a paste (beurre manie). Use a draining spoon to lift the leeks onto a heated serving dish then stir in the beurre manie to thicken the sauce, season to taste with salt and pepper, pour over the leeks and serve.

CHEESE CRUNCH LEEKS
Cook the leeks as above. Drain the juices and use to make a rich cheese sauce.
Melt 30g (1oz) butter and stir in 30g (1oz) flour over a low heat. Add milk to the vegetable stock till it measures 300ml ( ½ pt) and gradually stir this  into the flour mixture. Keep stirring till the mixture thickens and boils. Add 60g (2oz) grated cheese (mature cheddar gives a good flavour) and stir to melt. Remove from the heat and  season to taste with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pour over the cooked leeks then make the topping below to cover the dish.

CHEESY OAT TOPPING
60g (2oz) medium oatmeal
75g (2 ½ oz) oat flakes
1 tablespoon sunflower oil or melted butter
Mix in:-
60g (2oz) smoked mature cheddar cheese
60g (2oz)  mature cheddar cheese
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 180C, (160C fan) 350F, Gas 4  till golden and crisp on top. Serve hot with plenty crusty bread.
To make a more substantial meal:-
Add chopped ham or smoked fish to the recipe.
Add a beaten egg to the sauce

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