Introducing… Seed 2 Stove: Autumn roots.
In the first of a new series for the magazine, keen allotmenteer Lia Leendertz cooks up her colourful autumn crop.
"My allotment sits at the top of a hill in north Bristol. Much of the time my two kids are climbing the apple trees and demanding drinks or snacks, but not now. Autumn is a gentle, quiet time to be here. They’re in school and the mad tsunami of summer bounty is behind me. My autumn crops sit and wait until I’m ready for them. What a change. I can think and tend and decide what to cook, rather than the allotment dictating.
It’s a time for reordering summer growth and chaos. Grass edges that have crept into beds can be sliced into satisfying sharpness with a spade, and new areas of the plot must be conquered, the white couch grass roots slowly disentangled from the earth and thrown straight onto a little smoky fire. Some things will need planting soon too: new fruit bushes must be ordered, as well as garlic and broad beans – promises of flavours to come."
In season this month "Beetroots and carrots are pretty malleable and dependable crops. I sow direct into the soil every few weeks from early summer to late summer, picking the babies earlier in the year but leaving some to get big for autumnal roasts and pickles. You can, of course, sow carrots and beetroots that look just like the ones in the shops, but where’s the fun in that? It’s precisely as easy to sow and grow white and yellow beetroots, candy striped ones, yellow, black and white carrots as it is the usual suspects, and this year I really went for it. They make for a pleasingly colourful and unusual autumn crop.
At this stage of the game they’ve toughened up a little, so we’re not really in salad territory here. These roots are best when slowly cooked and dressed with spices to bring out their inherent sweetness and complexity. Suits me."
Try something new There’s a world of unusual colours and varieties to try. The future is not necessarily orange for the humble carrot.
1. White Belgian "I’ll let you into a secret – these huge, heavy fellows were once commonly grown on small farms to be used as animal feed. But don’t let that put you off! They’re deliciously tender and mild, and look great pickled in jars with their orange friends."
2. Spanish Black "This year I also sowed some of these striking black carrots. They were around long before the orange sort, and are popular across Asia and the Middle East. Roast, don’t boil them as you’ll lose the colour (and taste)."
3. Jaune Obtuse du Doubs "A French heirloom. That makes these carrots sound almost too special to eat, but eat them you must as they’ve got a great, strong, sweet taste and look brilliant grated in a salad."