Friday, 4 June 2010

The Gardener's Treats.

I don't know if many amateur veggie growers would say that growing your own is less expensive than buying the same veggies in the grocery store. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, (probably) but the amount of money that we've spent on gardening tools, lumber to build raised beds, fencing, compost, seeds and young plants would probably take a few years to make back in commercial value.
That's not factoring in the amount of time and back-breaking effort involved in establishing a healthy veg patch, or the frustration when seedlings fail to thrive or are eaten by F*@&ing ba$t£rd caterpillars and pigeons.
These days, I think you'd struggle to find anyone growing veggies who doesn't do it purely for the love of the hobby and the pleasure of eating something that has traveled mere yards from the garden to the kitchen sink.

One of my favourite things about growing some of my own veggies is being able to eat parts of the plant that don't normally make it to the shops, like tiny, tender beetroot leaves or the side shoots of adolescent asparagus spears.

Just as we did last year, we're growing our potatoes in sacks on the patio, freeing up valuable veg patch for brassicas, corn, squash and so on. One of my favourite sneaky things to do at this time of year is feel around under the soil of some of the early cropping varieties to steal a few babies packed with sweet nuttiness and perfect for a summer salad.
The French Breakfast radishes have been popping up out of the soil for a couple of weeks now and those that do not get eaten on the spot have been making their way into all manner of salads, sandwiches and nibble plates.
I decided to roast the little potatoes in a little garlic confit oil and chill them to make a light and summery salad along with the peppery little radishes. We had ours with burgers, but it would be lovely by itself as a lunch or as part of a picnic or barbeque spread.

Roasted Miniature New Potato and Radish Salad
serves 4, takes approx 90 mins, including coking and cooling

500g (1 lb) tiny baby new potatoes, about the size of a 50p (half dollar)
500g (1 lb) French Breakfast radishes or other spicy variety, halved or quartered.
2 tbsp free range mayonnaise
2 tbsp plain yoghurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 stalks celery from the heart of the bunch, including the leaves, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely diced
2 tsp dijon mustard (Maille recommended)
2 tsp white wine vinegar
small handful parsely, finely chopped
2 tbsp garlic confit oil (*or olive oil plus 2 cloves of garlic in their skins)
Coarse sea salt
Black pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F)
Wash the little potatoes well, dry them thoroughly and toss them in the garlic oil*
Roast them for 30-40 minutes or until thoroughly cooked, with golden, wrinkly skins. Cool to room temp before refrigerating completely.
Whisk the mayonnaise and yoghurt together well with a the mustard, vinegar, garlic and a little sea salt.
Stir in the potatoes, radishes, celery, parsely and shallot and preferably refrigerate for half an hour or so before serving to allow the flavours to meld.

I had the leftovers for lunch the following day and it was every bit as lovely, but I wouldn't leave it for longer than that, because the radish and celery would likely go a little rubbery.

What is you favourite Springtime salad??


  1. This is simply lovely! It makes me want to feel around my potato plants to see if there's any I can sneak away, too :)

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  3. Oh Emily, those radishes are so beautiful. I want to be at your house!

    By the way, I tried to plan an inexpensive garden for my Mom. You know, I planned how many bags of soil, so that we didn't get lost in buying too much (expensive it is). I also planned a garden by means of companion planting with only seeds (seeds are cheap-even organic). And I washed her ancient garden tools making sure that I had everything and accepted it would be a bit more difficult with them, but whatever...

    By the time she came outside and heard my plan, she rejected it all. We ended up buying new tools, pots, tons of soil, starter plants (not seeds), and neem. Have you every bought neem? It's a great, organic pesticide/fungicide, but it's expensive. Anyway, point of this long arse comment is my cheap garden plan was dashed! So your'e probably right-it ends up being expensive sometimes. Radishes are cheap to grow though, and they nitrogenate that soil! yeah!

  4. Those radishes are lovely. So many of them. I too am growing potatoes, but not in sacks, large pots. Maybe I should have a feel for some little potatoes too.

    Love the recipe.