a blog by Gemma Thomas.
When talking about seasonal eating, it is very difficult to get the tone right. It’s the same with healthy eating; there is a tendency for the writer to sound a little pompous, a little smug and more than a little patronising. I get it, they’ve found a way that works for them and want to share it with others, but writing about this way of life without turning it into a lecture can be somewhat difficult.
Recently a friend told me, rather disdainfully, that she couldn’t believe that with all my “talk about seasonal eating, veg bags and organic ingredients” she saw a picture on my Instagram of a huge bag of KFC. I felt a little chastised, if I’m being honest, but didn’t really need to start explaining myself. I was hungover, and I love a bit of fast food from time to time.
This got me thinking about how we think we should eat vs. how we actually eat. If you have read my blog before, you will know that I am very keen on eating seasonally. There are many reasons for this; reducing food miles, being in touch with the landscape, and simply that the food tastes better when in season. I haven’t eaten a strawberry or a stalk of asparagus since they went out of season at the end of the summer, and I try to avoid, where possible, fresh food that has been imported from another country where local food is available. That being said, I don’t find it realistic to live like this all of the time – I have a busy life, often eat on the fly, and I have more guilty pleasures in food than on my embarrassing Spotify playlist. The truth is, that no matter how much we talk about our chia seed breakfasts, our Nutribullets and our homegrown veg, most of us have found ourselves munching a Big Mac on the nightbus at one stage or another (or equivalent dirty food mishap), so therefore we shouldn’t be too sanctimonious when it comes to our eating habits.
This rant was mainly in aid of me talking about changing the format of my blog a little. In recent weeks, I have found it difficult to post with the same regularity as I used to; so instead I am going to focus on posting just once a week (with a few in between if I can find the time) and focus each week on one seasonal ingredient. The idea is to spend a week getting to know the ingredient, finding new ways to use it and then write up the recipes. This week I have been focusing on spring onions, which are so beautifully versatile so as not to pose much of a challenge, but also pungent enough to warrant a permanent supply of breath mints.
In the meantime, I have a seasonal recipe for you. Recently, I have been focusing on evening meals that take under half an hour to prepare and cook and, hence, have been eating rather a lot of pasta. This dish combines beautiful cavolo nero, one of my favourite vegetables, and still relatively easy to find, even this late in the winter, chickpeas and lemon.
Tagliatelle with Cavolo Nero, Chickpeas and Lemon
Large bunch of cavolo nero
1 lemon, zest only
1 tbsp lemon juice
150g cooked chickpeas
Sea salt and black pepper
50g parmesan, finely grated
Bring a deep saucepan of water to the boil and blanch the cavolo nero for one minute. Refresh in cold water and drain thoroughly. Roughly chop and set aside.
Cook the pasta according to packet instructions and drain.
Return the pasta to the pan and stir in the cavolo nero, lemon zest, lemon juice, chickpeas and seasoning. Stir in all but a little of the parmesan.
Transfer to large bowls and garnish with the remaining parmesan.
Serves two. Adapted from a recipe from BBC Food.