We're big fans of eating in-season veggies at Braintree, so we always look out for healthy recipes that are easy to make and naturally delicious.
Kale and spinach are great for us, but there are a few less championed (or less trend-led) veggies like courgettes and fennel that are just as good for you - and they happen to be at their best right now. Here are some green recipes I've found and plan on giving a go. I think you'll enjoy them too.
Pea & Asparagus Barley Risotto
This lighter, summery interpretation of classic risotto brings together peas with iron-boosting barley.
2 tbsps olive oil
1 cup pearled barley
2 leeks, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine, or water
2 cups of water
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
400ml vegetable stock
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut on bias into 2-inch pieces
280g fresh peas
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan
1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves, plus small leaves for garnish
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the barley and leeks and cook until they begin to soften.
2. Add the wine and continue to cook until it's evaporated.
3. Add 2 cups of water, bring to the boil, season with salt and pepper and simmer for about 10 minutes.
4. Add the vegetable stock and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender and creamy.
5. Add the asparagus and cook until tender but still with bite. Add the peas and warm through.
6. Serve, garnished with parmesan, mint, salt and pepper.
Recipe adapted from Whole Living's Spring Barley Risotto
I've yet to try Gazpacho and I've only recently become an Avocado convert so this green recipe really caught my eye. While it does take 2 hours to cool, there's absolutely no cooking involved. You could easily make it in the morning and come home to a ready-to-eat healthy supper.
(makes enough for 4)
100g baby spinach
2 garlic cloves
1 large cucumber, chopped (and deseeded if preferred)
½ green chilli, deseeded
½ small pack of parsley
½ small pack basil
½ small pack mint
1 ripe avocado, stoned and peeled
4 spring onions, topped and tailed
200g natural yoghurt
Tbsp sherry vinegar
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or rapeseed oil
Handful pea shoots
Edible flowers (optional) and ice cubes, to serve
1. Put all the ingredients except the oil, pea shoots, ice cubes and flowers (if using) into a blender or food processor. Blitz, add a good pinch of salt and pepper and enough water to get a soup-like consistency. Taste and season to your liking.
4. When ready to serve, add a couple of ice cubes to each dish, scatter with pea shoots, flowers and a little oil.
Recipe adapted from BBC Food's Green Gazpacho
Cucumber, Feta & Fennel Dip
The mild, liquorice-like flavour of fennel in this Bellau Kitchen
dish really complements the fresh cucumber. Try serving this with warm crusty bread or with tortilla chips if you're hosting a barbecue.
1 cucumber, peeled and diced into small cubes
1 block of feta cheese, crumbled
1 fennel bulb, very finely chopped
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped or torn
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice and zest of one lemon
1. Chop the cucumber and fennel bulb into small cubes.
2. In a frying pan, gently heat and toast the fennel seeds for a minute or so until their aroma releases.
3. Add the cucumber mix and fennel seeds to a bowl and crumble in the feta.
4. Next, add the coriander, lemon juice and zest, drizzle with oil and serve.
Courgette & Apple Cake
Another of Bellau Kitchen's
easy to make recipes - it's a fruitier version of the one Nigel Slater
suggests. Try it on it's own or with a dollop of natural yogurt.
200g caster sugar
150g courgettes, coarsely grated
1 small apple, coarsely grated
200g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and grease (or line with baking paper) a large loaf tin.
2. In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs and beat thoroughly.
3. Squeeze out any excess water from the apple and courgette (I usually do this using a clean tea towel) and add them, with the sultanas, into the bowl.
4. Fold the flour, salt, cinnamon into the bowl and mix well. Pour the mix into your loaf tin and bake for 1 hour, or until golden and risen.
5. Allow to cool, then drizzle with a little icing sugar mixed with orange juice.
Beginner's Luck Smoothie
Like Jo, I’m a huge fan of green smoothies
. This is the very first one I tried and I consistently return to it - it's delicious. My top tip is to chop up the ingredients and freeze them so it's even easier to make. It always tastes better when at least one of the ingredients has been pre-frozen too.
(makes 1 large serving)
1 cup water
1 large handful of spinach – swap for kale, if preferred
1 small handful of pineapple
1 small handful of mango
1. In a blender, whizz the spinach and water together first.
2. Add the pineapple, mango and banana all at once, if you can, and blitz.
3. Serve with a straw and enjoy!
Lettuce, carrots, cauliflower, celery, raspberries (and of course, strawberries) are also at their best in July. If you have a recipe you'd like to share, please do! Drop us a note in the comments box below.