Volunteering at the work weekends at Bennison Farm – By Chris Wagland

I have always loved organic gardening.

Having been a keen advocate of organic growing methods for several decades and, due to many career related house moves, we have found much joy over the years in turning each newly acquired garden into a wildlife friendly and chemical free zone. Accordingly, having moved to Wivenhoe, I had Bennison Farm on my radar for a while, as well as carrying out house improvements and starting on another garden.

With the arrival of the first “lockdown”, our thoughts focused more towards supporting local growers rather than using supermarkets and so we decided to join the Bennison Farm scheme.  We have been very happy with the results. It’s been so nice to nip down to the pub and pick up our bag of fresh veg every week, saying hello to the chickens on the way in.  I’ve been very impressed at how clean and slug free Danny’s cabbages are, as my home grown ones usually have passengers that need to be rescued from the sink, however hard I have tried to deter them.  I clearly still have a lot to learn! 

Despite getting on a bit in years, we have, hopefully, kept reasonably fit and so we were up for helping out with the work days on the farm, where possible. So far, we have managed the June and July days and enjoyed both of them despite the weather on each day being diametrically opposed to the other! The June day was warm and sunny and Danny made us very welcome.  The time went quickly as we worked with a lovely family and could chat whilst weeding. (This can get complicated as both my husband and I are called “Chris”, but we have had to get used to that one). 

The July day was wet underfoot but dry-ish from above, so that worked out well. We were quite a large group of people, all very friendly and welcoming.  With the soil being soft and friable, the weeds came up easily, often revealing all sorts of interesting little critters to observe while working. 

It beats a gym membership any day, as far as I’m concerned.

Recipes and facts – Squash

Squash is comforting, delicious, and healthy. It’s often steamed or roasted, but its name actually derives from a Native American term for raw or uncooked vegetables.

While it is often treated as a vegetable, squash is actually a type of fruit, as it comes from a flower and contains seeds. You can enjoy these seeds, as well as the flesh and, in many cases, the skin.

Squash in its different varieties contains sources of Vitamins C, A and B6, beta-carotene, antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, calcium and iron.


Butternut squash, apricot and chickpea tagine

Squash Soup Bowl

Butternut squash, apricot and chickpea tagine

By Emma Chesters (Good Souls Bakery)

This is a recipe I adapted from an Ottolenghi recipe. I always make it as soon as I get a butternut squash in my Bennison Farm bag. You can get most of the other ingredients from Colchester Food Coop.

Serves 4

  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Half a chilli, thinly sliced
  • 4 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • Small pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • Small pinch of saffron (if you happen to have some handy, don’t worry if not)
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 medium sized butternut squash (around 800g), peeled and chopped into 3cm chunks
  • 100g dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 small preserved lemons, chopped roughly
  • Chopped coriander leaves

Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan and cook the onions for 5 minutes or until they are slightly softened.

Add the garlic and cook for 2 two minutes.

Add the squash and cook for 5 minutes.

Then add the parsley, bay leaf, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks and the rest of the spices.  Cover with the vegetable stock and simmer for 10 minutes. The squash should have softened but not become too mushy.  The sauce should have thickened slightly. If it hasn’t done this, then just increase the heat for a couple of minutes to reduce it.

Add the chopped tomatoes, dried apricots, preserved lemons and chickpeas, and cook for 10 minutes more. 

Serve with couscous or brown rice and garnish with chopped coriander.

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Squash Soup Bowl

  • Small or medium squash
  • Vegetable stock
  • Crème Fresh or cream
  • Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (non-fan)

Cut top off squash and scoop out seeds and stringy bits

Cook in oven for 45 minutes (for small, add about 15 minutes for medium)

Scoop out some of the flesh, trying not to split the outside. Add into a pan with some water, stock. Bring to the boil.

Reduce heat and add a scoop of crème fresh

Add Gruyere cheese to the squash and pour in the soup

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Recipes and facts – Basil

Basil is a flavourful, leafy green herb that originated in Asia and Africa.

It’s a member of the mint family, and many different varieties exist.

Popular as a food seasoning, this aromatic herb is also used in teas and supplements.

Because basil is generally used in small quantities, the only substantial nutrient it provides is vitamin K. Basil also supplies plant compounds, which contribute aroma and flavour.


Basil Pesto

Basil Sorbet

Classic Basil Pesto

  • basil a large bunch (approx. 100g), leaves picked
  • sea salt 1 tsp
  • garlic ½ clove, crushed
  • pine nuts 50g, toasted
  • extra-virgin olive oil 100ml
  • parmesan 50g, finely grated

Put the basil, salt, garlic and pine nuts into a small food processor and pulse until broken down.

Drizzle in the olive oil with the motor running until you have a smooth–ish sauce with a little texture remaining.

Tip into a bowl and stir in the cheese.

Season with salt and pepper

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Orange and Basil Sorbet

  • oranges 4, 2 zested
  • caster sugar 250g
  • basil a large bunch

Gently heat the sugar with 250ml water until dissolved, then simmer for 2 minutes.

Tear the basil leaves, add to the syrup and infuse until cool.

Strain, mix with the orange juice and zest then churn in an ice cream maker until frozen, or freeze in a container, stirring once or twice.

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Recipes and facts – Jerusalem Artichokes

From the Jamie Oliver website


  • 600 g Jerusalem artichokes
  • olive oil
  • a few bay leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 splash white wine vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper

Peel the artichokes, then cut them into chunks.

Place them in an oiled frying pan and fry on a medium heat until golden on both sides, then add a few bay leaves, 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced, a splash of white wine vinegar, some salt and pepper, and place a lid on top.

After about 20 to 25 minutes they will have softened up nicely and you can remove the lid and the bay leaves.

Continue cooking for a couple of minutes to crisp the artichoke slices up one last time, then serve straight away.

These go well with both meat and fish and are particularly good in a plate of antipasti, or in soups or warm salads.

Serves 4.

Recipes and facts – Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is a cruciferous vegetable that’s closely related to cabbage. Its leaves, stems, and bulbs can be eaten raw or cooked.

One cup (135 grams) of kohlrabi provides 93% of your daily vitamin C needs. It’s also a good source of potassium, fibre, and vitamin B6.


Kohlrabi Slaw with Coriander, Jalapeño and Lime

Creamy Kohlrabi Soup

Kohlrabi Slaw with Coriander, Jalapeño and Lime

From the Feasting at home website.

  • 6 cups kohlrabi -cut into matchsticks or grated in a food processor -about three x 4 inch bulbs (or you could substitute sliced fennel, apple, jicama, cucumber, or cabbage for part of the kohlrabi for more diversity)
  • ½  cup chopped coriander( one small bunch)
  • half of a jalapeno -minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped Spring onion
  • orange zest from one orange, and juice
  • lime zest from one lime, and juice

Citrus Dressing :

  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • ¼ Cup  fresh orange juice ( juice form one orange)
  • 1/8 Cup lime juice plus 1 T ( juice from one large lime), more to taste
  • 1/4 Cup honey ( or agave syrup)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar

Trim and peel kohlrabi. ( I normally have to peel twice to get thru the thick skin). Cut off two ends. Cut in half from top to bottom. Thinly slice, rotate and slice again, making 1/4 inch matchsticks.

Place in large bowl with chopped coriander, spring onions, finely chopped jalapeño ( 1/2), lime zest and orange zest.

Whisk dressing together in a small bowl. Toss with salad. Refrigerate until serving. Garnish with zest and coriander. 

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Creamy Kohlrabi Soup – Abel and Coles website

  • 1 kohlrabi or 300g broccoli stalks, peeled and diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • A nugget of butter or splash of olive oil
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and diced
  • 500ml veg or (chicken stock)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • A handful of fresh parsley, plus more to serve
  • ½ lemon, juice and zest
  • A grating of fresh nutmeg (optional)
  • A dollop of crème fraîche (optional)

Gently fry the kohlrabi, onion and garlic in butter or oil over a medium-low heat for a few mins.

Add the spuds and stock and simmer till the veg are soft enough to whizz up.

Pop the veg and parsley in the blender. Let the veg cool a bit first as the pressure from the steam can make the lid blow off

Purée till smooth. Transfer it back to the pan to heat up. Taste. Season with salt, pepper and a touch of lemon juice and zest, and perhaps some nutmeg.

Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche, a bit more fresh parsley and even some crispy pancetta or little bits of bacon, if you fancy.

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Recipes and facts – Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable and can be used as a ‘rice’ alternative, served as ‘steaks’ or taking centre stage in a roast.

It’s an easy vegetable to add to your diet – enjoy raw, steamed, puréed, mashed, grated or roasted.

Don’t discard the stem – it’s equally as nutritious and can be pulsed in a food processor to use as a base for vegetable soup, or added to a slaw.

An 80g (raw) portion contains approximately – 24 kcal/02 KJ, 2g protein, 3.5g carbohydrates, 1.4g fibre, 0.3g fat, 202mg potassium, 14mg calcium, 44mcg folate and 45mg of vit C.


Cauliflower Korma

Roasted Stuffed Cauliflower

Simple Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower Korma – From the Earth Share website 


  •  1 onion

  •  2 tsp garlic, finely chopped

  •  2 tbsp grated fresh ginger

  •  1 oz ground almonds

  •  1 tbsp ground coriander

  •  1 tsp cumin

  •  1 tsp ground cardamom

  •  1/2 tsp turmeric

  •  pinch of chilli powder

  •  1/2 cinnamon stick, ground

  •  2 tsp fennel seed, toasted and ground

  •  1 tbsp tomato puree

  •  1/2 pint coconut milk/water

Finely chop the onion; fry in a little oil for 10 mins until soft.

Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a further 2 mins.

Add the ground almonds; stir for 2 mins.

Add the spices; fry for 1 min then add the tomato puree.

Add some coconut milk and/or water to make a sauce consistency; simmer gently for 5 mins.

Prepare and steam the cauliflower; just before it is cooked, add to the korma sauce; simmer for a few minutes until the cauli is tender.


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Roasted stuffed cauliflower – BBC Good Food Website

  • 1 large or 2 small cauliflowers (about 850g)
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • For the stuffing
  • 250g kale , chopped
  • 1 tbsp milled linseed
  • 1 onion , chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves , chopped
  • ½ small pack sage , leaves chopped
  • ½ small pack rosemary , leaves chopped
  • 150g cooked chestnuts , finely chopped, plus 30g for the topping
  • 2 lemons , zested
  • good grating nutmeg

Trim and discard the cauliflower leaves. Turn the cauliflower upside-down on a chopping board and use your knife to carefully cut out the stalk and core, leaving a cavity – the florets should still be holding together.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Submerge the cauliflower and cook for 7 mins, then remove with two slotted spoons and set aside to steam dry.

Add the kale to the pan and cook for a min or so until wilted. Drain, then run under cold water to cool. Squeeze out the excess liquid and roughly chop.

To make a linseed ‘egg’ (this will bind the stuffing together), mix the ground linseed with 3 tbsp water and set aside for 5-10 mins until gluey.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan, add the onion and a pinch of salt, and cook until softened, then stir in the remaining stuffing ingredients, including the kale, and cook for a min or so more.

Remove from the heat and season, then put in a blender with 150ml water and the linseed egg and blitz to a thick purée. Transfer to a piping bag. 

Pipe the stuffing mixture into every nook and cranny of the cauliflower, getting in as much of the purée as you can. Transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment. Can be made up to this point in the morning and kept in the fridge.

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Mix the remaining chestnuts with the breadcrumbs and some seasoning. Spoon the remaining oil all over the cauliflower, then pat on the breadcrumb chestnut mix.

Roast for 45 mins until golden brown and tender (place under a hot grill for the last part of cooking time if it needs to crisp-up).

Serve with any crisp bits that have fallen onto the baking tray.

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Simple Roasted Cauliflower – from The Bitery Website

  • 1head Cauliflower
  • 5 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp All Spice
  • 1tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Handful of fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 220 ºC.

Wash the cauliflower, remove the leaves and stalk and cut into small florets. In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, cinnamon, all spices, red wine vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper.

Coat the cauliflower florets with the marinade and spread on the baking sheet

Bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes, until the cauliflower florets get crispy and turn golden brown. Allow to cool down for a few minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the pomegranate seeds and chop the parsley.

Drizzle some olive oil over the cauliflower and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and parsley.

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Recipes and facts – Celery

Celery is a low-calorie vegetable with a high water content that contains a sizable dose of fibre, along with some vitamins and minerals. It’s a convenient on-the-go snack as well as a vegetable that can be incorporated into cooked dishes, stir-fries and salads.


Simple Celery Soup

Creamy celery gratin

Simple Celery Soup – Sylvia Fountaine for Feasting at Home website

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 fat garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • 6 cups celery, sliced thin (about 1 ¼1 ½ lbs ) 1 extra-large head, save some leaves for garnish
  • 2 cups potatoes, sliced into ½ inch thick rounds ( about ¾ lb)
  • 4 cups veggie or chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf (optional, remove before blending)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, start conservatively, add more to taste or leave it out entirely.


  • ¼ cup fresh dill (small stems ok)
  • ½ cup fresh parsley (small stems ok)
  • Stir in: ½ cup (or more) of sour cream, plain yogurt, vegan sour cream, heavy cream or cashew cream. 

Heat the oil in a big pot over medium high heat, and add the onion, stirring occasionally, letting the onions get golden, about 5 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, rough chop the garlic, celery and potatoes. When the onions are golden add the garlic and stir 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the celery, potatoes, broth, water, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and cayenne. The liquid should just cover the veggies. Cover, bring to a rolling boil, turn heat down and simmer gently until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

Turn heat off, remove bay leaf and add the fresh herbs and just wilt them (don’t cook herbs or you lose the vibrant colour!)

Using a stick blender blend until very silky smooth – OR if using a regular blender, let cool before blending in smaller batches. 

Blend well, a full minute, until herbs are fully blended, creating a vibrant coloured soup. For extra “green” colour, add a handful of raw spinach if you like, or more fresh parsley. Place it back in the same pot over low heat. Stir in your choice of sour cream, or any of the other options.

***Gently heat, careful to not over simmer, or you may lose the lovely vibrant colour.

To make the crispy celery leaves, heat a generous amount of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat.

Wait until the oil is hot. Fry a “tester” celery leaf for 10-20 seconds on each side. Set on a paper towel. If it is crisp, continue on.

Adding a few at a time, not overly crowding. If not crisp, fry them a little longer. You want about 3-5 leaves per serving bowl.

In the same oil, you could fry the nigella seeds until you just begin to hear popping. Turn heat off. Arrange the crispy celery leaves in a crescent shape. Spoon a little of the nigella seeds along with a little oil in the same shape. Sprinkle with hemp seeds if you like.

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Creamy celery gratin – BBC Good Food website

  • 2 celery heads, trimmed
  • 50g butter
  • 1 onion , thinly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 100g breadcrumb
  • 50g walnut , roughly chopped
  • 75ml white wine
  • 250ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • 100ml double cream
  • 25g grated parmesan (or vegetarian alternative)

Cut any thick celery stalks in half, trim all of it into thumb-size lengths, then wash and leave wet.

Melt half the butter in a large frying pan, then add the celery, onion and bay leaves.

Season, cover, then cook over a medium heat for about 30 mins, stirring occasionally to stop the onions catching.

Meanwhile, prepare the breadcrumbs. Melt the remaining butter in a separate pan, then toss in the crumbs and walnuts, stirring often until lightly golden and toasted. Set aside.

Heat grill to medium.

When the celery is tender, turn the heat right up, pour in the wine and stock, then reduce by two-thirds.

Pour in the cream, then reduce for a final few mins until you have a syrupy sauce.

Check seasoning, tip into an ovenproof dish, then scatter with the breadcrumbs and Parmesan.

Grill for 2-3 mins, until the sauce bubbles.

Let it sit for 5 mins before serving.

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Recipes and facts – Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are in the cruciferous family, related to broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, and kale. 

When you prepare them the right way, Brussels sprouts have a mild, sweet, almost nutty flavour. But they’re very easy to overcook, which can lead to a bitter taste, mushy texture, and a strong, sulphur-like smell. 

To cook, rinse your sprouts well to remove any dirt. Slice off the bottom (which has a tough texture, even when cooked), and remove any outer, wilted leaves.

You can toss Brussels sprouts with olive oil and roast them until browned, or steam them in a pot with a few inches of water. They’re also easily sautéed or microwaved. You can add raw, shaved Brussels sprouts to soups and salads.


Sizzled Sprouts

Chicken tagine with spiced Brussels sprouts & feta

Brussels Sprout Pad Thai

Sizzled sprouts with pistachios & pomegranate – BBC Good Food  Website

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g Brussels sprouts, halve
  • 50g pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 100g pomegranate seeds
  • pomegranate molasses, to drizzle (optional)

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat.

Put the sprouts in the pan, cut-side down, and leave them to fry for 10-15 mins, tossing occasionally.

If they’re just lightly brown, carry on cooking for a further 5 mins until blistered.

Scatter over the pistachios and stir-fry until toasted.

Remove from the heat and stir through the pomegranate seeds.

Season with salt and tip into a serving dish.

Drizzle with a little pomegranate molasses, if you like.

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Chicken tagine with spiced Brussels sprouts & feta – Joe Wicks

  • 1 ½ tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 large red onion , sliced
  • 1 red pepper , finely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves , finely chopped
  • 10 chicken thighs fillets (boneless and skinless)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 6 dried apricots , cut in half
  • 175g canned chickpeas , drained and rinsed
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 275g Brussels sprouts , shredded
  • 50g feta
  • ½ small bunch coriander , roughly chopped

Heat 1 tbsp of the coconut oil in a large flameproof casserole dish over a medium heat. When melted and hot, add the onion, pepper and garlic.

Cook, stirring regularly, for 3 -4 mins or until just starting to soften.

Increase the heat to maximum and add the chicken thighs. Fry everything together for about 3 mins, stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle in the spices, squeeze in the tomato purée and fry, stirring almost constantly, for 1 min.

Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and partially cover with a lid. After 30 mins, add the dried apricots and chickpeas, and continue to simmer for a further 10 mins.

While the tagine is bubbling away, heat the remaining 1/ 2 tbsp of coconut oil in a frying pan over a high heat.

When melted, add the cumin seeds, toast for 10 secs, then add the shredded sprouts.

Fry the sprouts over the high heat, stirring almost constantly, for 5 mins, by which time they should have softened and browned in places.

Serve the tagine in a large bowl, scatter over the fried sprouts, crumble over the feta and finish with the coriander.

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Brussel Sprout Pad Thai

  • 250g flat rice noodles
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • Juice 2 limes
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 red chilli, sliced
  • 200g cooked Brussels sprouts, sliced
  • 100g bean sprouts
  • 30g peanuts, chopped (to serve)
  • Lime wedges (to serve)

Put the noodles in a large heat proof bowl, cover in boiling water and leave for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water, then set aside.

Mix together the soy sauce, lime juice and sugar.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok. Fry garlic, spring onions, chilli and the cooked or left over Brussels sprouts for around 2 minutes. Add the noodles and beansprouts and fry for one minute more.

Pour over the sauce and toss well, working quickly to coat the veg and noodles. Once everything is heated through, season and divide between four plates.

Scatter with the peanuts and serve with lime wedges.

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Recipes and facts- Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Purple sprouting broccoli is a delicious and gorgeous alternative to the green heads found during the summer months.

Broccoli is famous for its glucosinolate content, which are phytonutrients that support all processes of detoxification within our bodies.

Purple spouting broccoli is high in vitamin C (1 cup offers 135% of the daily recommended value), so it can also help support your immune system. It also contains vitamins A and K, which help to support the metabolism of vitamin D. A pan of sautéed broccoli will provide you with all these bone supporting vitamins.


Griddled purple sprouting broccoli with peppers and walnuts

Purple sprouting broccoli and kale gratin

Griddled purple sprouting broccoli with peppers and walnuts

  • roasted red peppers from a jar 2 large
  • sweet smoked paprika ½ tsp
  • garlic 1 clove, crushed
  • lemon ½, juiced
  • olive oil
  • purple sprouting broccoli 350g, trimmed
  • walnuts 40g
  • sourdough bread charred to serve

Pat the peppers dry and dice them. Toss with the paprika, garlic, lemon juice, 1 tbsp olive oil and season.

Blanch the broccoli for 1 minute in a large pan of boiling salted water. Drain, pat dry, then toss the spears with ½ tbsp olive oil. Heat a griddle pan, then char the spears in batches until tender and smoky. When the broccoli is done, tip the walnuts in and toast for 30 seconds, tossing them in the pan.

To serve, put the charred broccoli on a plate, crush over the toasted walnuts with your hands, and add the red peppers, drizzling over the paprika oil from the bowl. Serve with some charred bread if you like.

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Purple sprouting broccoli & kale gratin

  • 400g kale
  • 15g butter
  • 1 small garlic clove , finely chopped
  • really generous grating of fresh nutmeg
  • 300g purple sprouting broccoli
  • 500ml double cream
  • 100g fontina , very thinly sliced
  • 50g parmesan , grated

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/ gas 6.

Remove the tough stems from the kale, then boil it in lightly salted water for 3-5 mins. Drain and press out the excess water.

Heat the butter in a frying pan and add the kale and garlic.

Cook over a low-to-medium heat for a few mins. Season well and add some nutmeg.

Trim the broccoli and halve any thick stalks lengthways.

Steam for 3-4 mins or until only just tender. Blot with a tea towel to get rid of the moisture on the surface.

Tip the kale into the base of a gratin or casserole dish and place the broccoli on top.

Season well and grate over some nutmeg.

Pour the cream over, then add both cheeses.

Bake in the oven for 30-35 mins or until golden and bubbling.

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Recipes and facts- Aubergine

Aubergines belong to the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. These are all the edible parts of flowering plants from the Solanaceae family.

Aubergines an excellent source of fibre while being low in calories, and are a great source of some vitamins and minerals which you need in your diet.

Aubergines are a good source of vitamins B1 and B6. Vitamin B1, also called thiamine, helps your body turn food into energy and can also help keep your nervous system healthy. Vitamin B6, which is also known as pyridoxine, helps the body use and store energy from carbohydrates, and helps keep our red blood cells healthy.

There are lots of ways to cook this unique fruit, from roasting and frying to stewing and even BBQing. 


Sicilian spaghetti alla Norma – Jamie Oliver

Aubergine & chickpea bites

Burnt Aubergine Veggie Chilli


Sicilian spaghetti alla Norma – Jamie Oliver website

Aubergine, baby capers and basil

  • 2 aubergines
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • ½ a bunch of fresh basil , (15g)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon baby capers
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 x 400 g tin of quality plum tomatoes
  • 320 g dried wholewheat spaghetti
  • 50 g pecorino cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil

Chop the aubergines into rough 2cm chunks. Place into a colander in the sink, sprinkle with sea salt to draw out the moisture, then set aside for around 20 minutes.

Peel and finely slice the garlic, then pick the basil leaves and finely slice the stalks.

Rinse the aubergine and pat dry with kitchen paper, then place into a large bowl with the oregano, chilli flakes, a splash of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Toss together well.

Drizzle a splash of olive oil into a large frying pan over a medium heat. Once hot, add the aubergines in a single layer, and fry for 5 to 8 minutes, or until softened and golden, stirring occasionally – you may need to do this in batches.

Add another splash of olive oil, followed by the garlic, capers and basil stalks, then cook for a further 2 minutes, or until golden.

Stir in the vinegar and the tomatoes, breaking them up with the back of a spoon. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes, or until thick and glossy.

Cook the spaghetti in a pan of boiling salted water for 8 minutes or until al dente, which means that it should be soft enough to eat, but still have a bit of bite and firmness to it.

Drain the spaghetti, reserving a cupful of the cooking water, then add a good splash of the reserved water to the aubergine sauce.

Finely grate in half the cheese and tear in most of the reserved basil leaves. Add a lug of extra virgin olive oil, then season to taste.

Add the spaghetti to the sauce and toss well, adding an extra splash of the reserved cooking water to loosen, if needed.

Divide between bowls, grate over the remaining cheese and finish with the remaining basil scattered on top.


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Aubergine & chickpea bites – BBC Good Food website


  • 3 large aubergines, halved, cut side scored
  • spray oil
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 400g can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tbsp gram flour
  • 1 lemon, ½ zested and juice, ½ cut into wedges to serve (optional)
  • 3 tbsp polenta

For the dip

  • 1 tbsp harissa (we used Belazu rose harissa)
  • 150g coconut dairy-free yogurt (we used Coyo)

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Spray the aubergine halves generously with oil, then put them cut-side up in a large roasting tin with the garlic, coriander and cumin seeds.

Season, then roast for 40 mins until the aubergine is completely tender. Set aside to cool a little.

Scoop the aubergine flesh into a bowl and discard the skins.

Use a spatula to scrape the spices and garlic into the bowl.

Add the chickpeas, gram flour, lemon zest and juice, roughly mash together and check the seasoning. Don’t worry if the mix is a bit soft – it will firm up in the fridge.

Shape the mixture into 20 balls and put them on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, then leave to chill in the fridge for at least 30 mins. Swirl the harissa through the yogurt and set aside. Can make ahead to this point the day before and kept covered in the fridge.

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Tip the polenta onto a plate, roll the balls in it to coat, then return them to the tray and spray each one with a little oil.

Roast for 20 mins until crisp, hot and golden.

Serve with the harissa yogurt and lemon wedges, if you like.

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Burnt aubergine veggie chilli – BBC Good Food website


  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or rapeseed oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 70g puy lentils or green lentils, rinsed
  • 30g red lentils, rinsed
  • 400g can kidney beans
  • 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 20g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 800ml vegetable stock
  • ½ lime, juiced

To serve

  • brown rice
  • tortilla chips, mashed avocado, yogurt or soured cream, grated cheddar, roughly chopped coriander (optional)

If you have a gas hob, put the aubergine directly onto a lit ring to char completely, turning occasionally with kitchen tongs, until burnt all over. Alternatively, use a barbecue or heat the grill to its highest setting and cook, turning occasionally, until completely blackened (the grill won’t give you the same smoky flavour).

Set aside to cool on a plate, then peel off the charred skin and remove the stem. Roughly chop the flesh and set aside.

In a large pan, heat the oil, add the onion and carrots with a pinch of salt, and fry over a low-medium heat for 15-20 mins until the carrots have softened.

Add the aubergine, both types of lentils, the kidney beans with the liquid from the can, soy sauce, tomatoes, chocolate, chilli powder, oregano and the spices.

Stir to combine, then pour in the stock.

Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to very low.

Cover with a lid and cook for 1½ hrs, checking and stirring every 15-20 mins to prevent it from burning.

Remove the lid and let the mixture simmer over a low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 mins until you get a thick sauce.

Stir in the lime juice and taste for seasoning – add more salt if needed.

Serve hot over rice with whichever accompaniments you want!

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