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Grow It Yourself - September

Courgette

I own more cookbooks than is sensible, and though I can sometimes be accused of being a little slow on the uptake, I’ve spotted a trend in them of late – yes my fellow laggards, I bring you astonishing news: to an increasingly large number of our fellow citizens, carbs are bad. But fear not - if you’re finding the idea of going gluten-free a bitter pill to swallow, there are a slew of gorgeous food writers to help you on the journey. The message is clear – buy their cookbook, cut the gluten and you too could look like them.

Yeah, so you might have guessed - I don’t buy in to the whole ‘carbs are bad’ thing. I think it’s a dangerous generalization that lumps heavily refined, low nutrient carbs like white bread in with nutrient-rich, unprocessed, vitamin-replete carbs like potatoes.

It’s a blunt instrument that fails to differentiate between the joys of a good quality sourdough bread and a processed sliced pan that takes a month to go off. It’s undeniably true to say that our diets contain too much wheat and we should eat more wholefoods but we should also mistrust any diet that relegates an entire food group to pariah status.

That said, there’s plenty to like in new books from the likes of Lily Simpson, Ella Woodward and the Hemsley sisters Melissa & Jasmine, particularly if you’re a fan of putting veg centre stage and want to eat less refined foods.

So instead of spaghetti with your Bolognese why not try courgetti (spiralized courgettes) instead? Or swap out noodles for spiralized cucumbers, or even (whisper it) blitz a head of cauliflower to use instead of rice.

Yep, it’s time to add one more piece of kitchen equipment to your arsenal – a spiralizer. It’s a nifty and relatively inexpensive little machine that turns fruit and vegetables in to noodle/pasta shaped lengths. Mrs Kelly and I have recently taken delivery of a spiralizer but not because we feel particularly guilty about eating pasta, or because we’ve gone gluten free (we haven’t).

Instead it’s because the spiralizer is a brilliant way to eat veg raw, make it look prettier or just a little more interesting. It also helps us make light work of two of the most glut-prone vegetables that can be a struggle to keep up with – courgettes and cucumbers.

We’ve tried all the recipes you could imagine to deal with courgettes – throwing them in to stews, soups, breads, cakes and more – hell even throwing them at the neighbours. None of these are as quick or delicious as converting them in to courgetti. If you have trouble getting your kids to eat vegetables, they might well be more inclined to eat them if they’ve been involved in the fun of spiralizing them.

Incidentally, I don’t think one would ever necessarily confuse courgetti with actual spaghetti but that’s hardly the point. It’s delicious in it’s own right.

GIY Ireland

Recipe of the Month – Panzanella

This is my version of the classic Italian peasant’s lunch of stale bread and tomatoes. Though purists might sniff at the presence of courgettes, I think it works well if sliced very finely. Because the tomato crop was slow this year, I used 300ml of passata to soak the bread instead of fresh tomatoes, but if you have a glut of tomatoes you could of course use them instead (rubbed through a sieve). All in all, it’s not too shabby being a peasant. Serves 4.

Ingredients:

• 300ml organic passata
• 300g slightly stale sourdough bread
• 1 small cucumber, peeled, deseeded and chopped
• 1 small yellow courgette, thinly sliced
• 1 small red onion, halfed and thinly sliced
• 200g red or green pepper, de-seeded and sliced
• 20 black olives
• Handful basil leaves, chopped roughly
• 10-15 cherry tomatoes, halved
• 4 tbs olive oil
• 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
• 1 tbs capers

Directions:

Tear the bread in to large chunks and put it in a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix the passata, olive oil, vinegar and season well. Add it to the bread bowl, stirring well to mix it all together. Add the olives, capers, courgette, cucumber, onion, tomatoes and basil. Toss it all together again. Leave it to stand for half an hour to let all the flavours mingle.

Join GIY

By joining GIY you help us to continue the work of supporting people just like you to grow food at home, at school, in the workplace and in the community – each year we support over 65,000 people and 1,500 community food growing groups and projects. It costs just €35 to join GIY for a year, and to say thanks we will send you a seasonal copy of our supporter’s magazine GROW and some GIY seeds for you to sow each quarter. We will also send you our weekly tips, news and advice ezine and offer you discounts to GIY events like the annual GROW Fest. Join today at www.giyireland.com.

Michael KellyAbout GIY

GIY is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to create a healthier, more sustainable world where people grow their own food. We inspire and support people to grow food more successfully by bringing them together to share advice, tips and ideas. There are approximately 65,000 people involved in the GIY movement in Ireland, which is proudly supported by Woodies DIY.

For more information check out www.giyireland.com

Michael Kelly is a freelance journalist, author and founder of GIY Ireland. 
© GIY Ireland 2016 – all rights reserved.

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