Darina Allen: Enjoy natures winter bounty with these recipes and ferments

Autumn is fast sliding into Winter, the gardens and greenhouses look quite different to when the 12 Week students arrived in September.

On the first day, when I was showing them around, I urged them to take photos to remember the changing landscape.

We picked the last tomatoes off the vines a couple of weeks ago and made green tomato jam and chutney with the last of the fruit.

Basil hates the cold, those few nights of hard frost that gave us the spectacular Autumn colour killed the Genovese basil but surprisingly the Thai purple stemmed basil survived rather better.

Darina Allen: Enjoy natures winter bounty with these recipes and ferments

Cucumbers too, have finished for another year but we’ve still got a few tiny aubergines to pop into a Thai green curry during the next few days.

The last of the borlotti beans are drying in the pods on the plants, they will be wonderful for hearty bean stews and winter soups.

So now we’re well and truly into the root vegetable season. Parsnips are unexpectedly sweet once again due to the nights of hard frost, which concentrated the sugar.

We’ve also started to use the knobbly new season Jerusalem Artichokes — what a brilliant winter vegetable, super versatile, they roast deliciously, are great in gratins, soups and stews, and make the most irresistible crisps to nibble or scatter over a salad.

The Winter greens are flourishing too, there’s a forest of curly kale, cavolo Nero, red Russian, curly kale and lots of chard, so when I’m asked how do you manage for veg in the winter, people are astonished at the variety and I haven’t even mentioned leeks, celeriac, Romanesco or swede turnips.

Here are some of the new ways we’ve been enjoying natures Winter bounty in recipes and ferments…

Roast Fennell, Squash, Chorizo and Basil Frittata

Serves 6–8

400g Butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 2cm thick wedges

300g fennel, outer leaves removed, cut into 2cm thick wedges

3 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tsp and extra to drizzle

1 red onion thinly sliced

150g chorizo, skinned and sliced

250g spinach, washed

10-12 free range organic eggs — depending on the size of your pan

Small bunch of basil

1 garlic clove

4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

Mixed leaf salad (optional), to serve

Sea salt and black pepper

Darina Allen: Enjoy natures winter bounty with these recipes and ferments


You will need a 24 – 26 cm ovenproof pan or quiche dish.

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas Mark 6.

Toss the squash and fennel with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and season well. Roast for 20–25 minutes, until golden and just tender.

Ten minutes before the squash and fennel are cooked through, toss the red onion and chorizo in 1 tsp of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and add to the tray. Roast for 10 minutes, then remove and leave to one side.

Meanwhile, put the spinach in a large dry pan over a high heat. Turn the spinach as it wilts, then remove and drain in a sieve, pressing out any excess water. Season the spinach with a little salt and a drizzle of olive oil.

Crack the eggs into a bowl, whisk and season well. Put most of the squash, fennel, spinach, onion and chorizo into the ovenproof pan or quiche dish. Pour over the beaten egg and finish with the remaining fillings so that they stick out over the top of the egg.

Cook in the oven for about 35 – 45 minutes, until the frittata has souffléd up and the top is just firm to the touch. If it is still uncooked in the centre, cover with foil to prevent burning and cook until just firm.

While the frittata is cooking, chop the basil finely and combine with the garlic and the extra virgin olive oil, to create a loose basil oil.

Let the frittata cool a little, drizzle over the basil oil and serve immediately with a light mixed-leaf salad.

Winter Vegetable and Borlotti Bean Soup with Spicy Sausage

Serves 8-9

We make huge pots of this chunky soup during the colder months of the year. It freezes brilliantly.

The sausage can be chorizo, merguez or the Polish kabanossi, these give a gutsy slightly smoky flavour to the soup which although satisfying is by no means essential.

The beans too can be varied, borlotti are wonderful but haricot, black-eyed beans, or chickpeas or a mixture, are also deeply satisfying.

225g rindless streaky bacon, cut into 5mm lardons

2 tbsp olive oil

225g onions, chopped

300g carrot, cut into 5mm dice

215g celery, chopped into 5mm dice

125g parsnips, chopped into 5mm dice

200g white part of 1 leek, 5mm slices thick approx.

1 spicy sausage (110g approx) cut into 3mm thin slices or 5mm cubes

1x 400g tin of tomatoes

Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

1.7L homemade chicken stock

225g borlotti beans, cooked * (see below)


2 tbsp parsley, freshly chopped

Blanch, the chunky bacon lardons, refresh and dry well. Prepare the vegetables. Put the olive oil in a saucepan, add bacon and sauté over a medium heat until it becomes crisp and golden, add the chopped onion, carrots and celery.

Cover and sweat for five minutes, next add the parsnip and finely sliced leeks. C

over and sweat for a further 5 minutes. Slice the sausage thinly, and add.

Chop the tomatoes and add to the rest of the vegetables and the cooked beans. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar, add the chicken stock. Allow to cook until all the vegetables are tender, 20 minutes approx.

Taste and correct the seasoning. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with lots of crusty brown bread.

Soak the beans overnight in plenty of cold water.

Next day, drain the beans and cover with fresh cold water, add a bouquet garni, carrot and onion, cover and simmer until the beans are soft but not mushy — anything from 30-60 minutes. Just before the end of cooking, add salt.

Remove the bouquet garni and vegetables and discard.

Parsnip or Jerusalem Artichoke Crisps

Serves 6 - 8

We serve these delicious crisps on warm salads, as a garnish for roast pheasant or Guinea fowl and as a topping for parsnip or root vegetable soup.

1 large parsnip or 3-4 Jerusalem artichokes

Sunflower or arachide oil


Heat good quality oil in a deep fryer to 150C. Scrub and peel the parsnips. Either slice into wafer thin rounds or peel off long slivers lengthways with a swivel top peeler. Allow to dry out on kitchen paper.

Drop a few at a time into the hot oil, they colour and crisp up very quickly. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle lightly with salt.

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🍅🥬 These days we eat so many veggies that myself & my partner Doug decided to have a look at official UK growers that were organic and delivered to the door. (We would love to grow our own but with no garden it’s just not possible right now) We found the company @riverford and so decided to go for it & order our first box. We went for seasonal vegetables as I really don’t know what grows in what season so felt this would help me learn more about it. In our first box we got some Jerusalem artichokes. I had never eaten artichokes until last year and again these particular ones were very different. We made some chip-like roasted ones as per instructions but Saturday eve as a snack we made artichoke crisps! I actually think these are better than normal crisps. So much flavour 💯 if your feeling experimental definitely have a go! **Slice thinly, warm olive oil with a pinch of salt, fry till brown. Leave to cool and they will crisp up**🔥 • . . . #artichokes #artichokecrisps #riverfordorganic #riverford #vegetarian #vegetables #vegan #veganlife #veganlifestyle #plantbased #plantbaseddiet #actress #consciousliving #recipes #veganfood #organic #organicfarming #farm #ukfood #consciousconsuming #wastenotwantnot #eatplantsnotfriends #eatmoreplants #veggies #alltheveggies #homecooking

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Jerusalem Artichoke Crisps

Scrub the Jerusalem artichokes well, slice in wafer thin rounds and cook as above.

Cabbage and Kale Kimchi

Makes 1 x 1 litre jar

1 large Napa/Chinese cabbage (roughly 1.2kg)

150g kale, stalks removed (I find cavolo nero works best)

1.2litres of water

40g fine table salt

60g sea salt


7 garlic cloves

5g fresh root ginger, peeled

100g onion, peeled

50g goghugaru (Korean chilli powder)

80ml fish sauce

2 tsp soy sauce

1 tbsp coconut palm sugar or maple syrup

2 tbsp rice vinegar


200g carrots, peeled and cut into fine julienne strips

30g chives, cut into 4cm lengths

4 spring onions, halved lengthways and cut into 4cm lengths


You will need 1 x 1 litre jar with a lid, sterilised

Cut about 10cm deep across the base of the cabbage, then gently split the entire cabbage in half lengthways. Rinse the cabbage and kale under running water, getting in between the leaves.

In a large flat bowl or container, combine the 1.2 litres of water with the 40g table salt.

Sprinkle the 60g of sea salt over each leaf of the halved cabbage, focusing your attention on the thicker root end and working up to the thinner leaf. Put any remaining salt into the salt-water mixture.

Place the cabbage cut side down in the bowl of salted water and mix the kale in around it. Press firmly down on the cabbage and kale to help the leaves soak up the salt water.

It will not be submerged, though. Leave to soak for 2 hours, then turn over and soak for a further 2 hours, until the cabbage leaves are limp and bend easily without breaking. Make sure to time this process so you don’t over-salt the cabbage.

Drain the cabbage and kale and rinse thoroughly under running water at least twice. Taste the leaves: they should be highly salted; however, if it is too strong, keep rinsing until the salt levels are reduced, the drain completely.

In the meantime, mix the glutinous rice flour with 2 tablesps of the water, using a fork or whisk to ensure there are no lumps. Once you have a smooth paste, gradually pour the remaining water into the flour mixture.

Put the mixture into a saucepan, bring to the boil for 5 minutes, until thick and gelatinous. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely.

In a food processor, combine all the paste ingredients and the cooled flour mixture, until you have a smooth paste.

Add this to a bowl, together with the carrots, chives and spring onions, and mix well until thoroughly combined.

Carefully apply this mixture to the drained cabbage, layering the leaves of kale into the cabbage as you go, ensuring every leaf is covered with the mixture.

Use the outer leaf of each to wrap around the cabbage, helping to keep the mixture secure inside.

Put the cabbage into a sterilised jar or other airtight container, press down firmly to remove any air pockets and seal tightly. Keep the jar at room temperature (out of direct sunlight) for 2 days, by which stage it should be beginning to ferment and smell a little sour.

The rate of fermentation will depend on the temperature and climate of the location where you are making it, so a good way to gauge its progress is to taste it at this point — if it has developed those characteristically sour notes, then you are on the right track. Now use a spoon to press the kimchi down very firmly, submerging it in its own juices and making sure there are no air pockets at all.

If you need to, place a smaller jar filled with water, or a small stone wrapped in greaseproof paper, on top of the cabbage to make sure it remains fully submerged. Seal the container again and refrigerate.

Most people find they like the kimchi best after a few weeks in the fridge; others like it after a month or 2, when it has a bit more of a sour kick to it. Try it out at intervals and see when you like it best.

If kept in a very cold fridge, it will keep for about a year.

Recipe extracted from Healthy Baking by Jordan Bourke, published by Orion Publishing Group Ltd.

Thyme and Rosemary Salmoriglio

Makes about 180ml

Salmoriglio is a pungent Italian herb oil, traditionally made with oregano or marjoram, but really good with thyme and rosemary too. It transforms dishes from perfectly good to ‘what on earth is that, I must have the recipe?’ Serve with pan grilled lamb chops, chicken, pork or roast vegetables...

10g rosemary leaves

10g thyme leaves

¼ tsp sea salt

1 garlic clove

Squeeze lemon juice

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Put the herbs in a mortar with the sea salt and the garlic. Pound relentlessly with a pestle until you have a smooth paste. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and slowly pour in the olive oil, stirring as you go with the pestle until everything is combined. It should be stored in the fridge, covered, and keeps for about 3 days.

Both above recipes extracted from Healthy Baking by Jordan Bourke

Hot Tips

Eco-friendly Christmas

With huge amounts of wrapping paper and all that unnecessary plastic packaging, Christmas is one time of the year that sustainability goes out the window.

‘The Kind’, a sustainable Dublin store and ‘Jiminy’, an eco-toy company have come together to create a Christmas pop-up store with a difference.

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