Organic or not organic is another issue. It is largely dictated by finances and availability. If there is a farmers’ market near you, there will be many spray-free crops. This means they don’t have the certification, but avoid the use of chemicals. Box schemes are a great way of getting local produce, and any health-food shop should have a selection of vegetables. Be wary of buying too much wrapped in plastic and sealed in bags. Supermarkets are easy, but the vegetables are rarely delicious. There is much you can do to give energy and life to vegetables once they are at home with you. Money is energy and you Small glass jars of His mixture are potentrand a great addition to any table.
Small green and red chillies, the green ones have the flavour, the red, the heat. Keep the seeds as they are the guardians of the heat. Rosemary, optional Squashed garlic, Olive oil
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1 For 1 litre of oil, finely chop 250 grams of chillies.
2 Lay out your washed jars with lids and fill 1/3 full with the chopped chillies and a clove of squashed garlic in each jar. If you are using the rosemary, make sure the stalk does not stick out over the top of the oil.
3 Fill with the oil, tightly close the jars and store in the back of the fridge.
It is best to wait two weeks for the oil to mature. If you have to have instant gratification then make a small jar with more chili and garlic and shake well.
Chilli has wonderful properties, especially when there is no vinegar involved. (Vinegar makes the stomach burn, aided further by the heat of the chili). It is cooling, antibiotic, stimulating. This sauce must be kept in the fridge or it will go bad very quickly. I have a friend who spoons it over salad instead of dressing. By the end of lunch he is always bright red, but smiling broadly.
Pasta e Fagioli
This is the classic winter-warming stew and soup all in one. It is rich and delicious.
1 Borlotti Beans, tinned and drained or dried and soaked for 8 hours (soaking water discarded)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 twigs of thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 carrot, sliced
2 tins chopped tomatoes 1 glass white wine
1 tbsp honey
1.5 litres of vegetarian stock Soup pasta (the short stumpy tubes)
Salt to taste
Parmesan cheese or alternative for serving Freshly ground black pepper Truffle oil (optional)
1 For dried beans: Heat the oil in a pressure cooker. Add the garlic, onions, carrot and thyme and cook till the onions are transparent.
2 Add the chopped tomatoes. Add the raw, soaked beans to the ingredients in the pressure cooker with 1 litre of water and cook for 20 minutes on two bars. Let the pressure drop before opening. Check for seasoning. (If you add salt before this point the beans will not cook. The salt would make them go hard. Conversely, the pasta cooks better with a little salt).
3 If you are using tinned beans, heat the oil in a heavy pan. Add the garlic, onions, carrot and thyme and cook till the onions are transparent.
4 Add the chopped tomatoes, and 1 litre of water. Bring the pan back up to the boil, add salt to taste.
5 Now you do the same for either method: add the pasta. Usually you would need about half a packet for this much. You need to keep stirring the pan because of the sauce. It will stick and burn if you do not keep an eye on it. The pasta needs to have a good bite to it, but be getting close to being cooked. As you are not draining away the water, it will continue to cook, so once you feel you have a good texture left in the pasta, remove from the heat.
6 Serve in open bowls with a drizzle of olive or truffle oil, some fresh black pepper and parmesan cheese.