Quiet achievers

This week we salute the stalwarts of the garden – the perennials.

Oft neglected but always there when you need them or willing to fill a seasonal gap, perennials are the unsung heroes of our gardens. Almost everyone has a rosemary bush or bay tree at least, and most people have a fruit tree, in their garden or nearby on a roadside, which asks for almost nothing but gives plenty of fruit or flavour in return.

We are attempting to go one step further in our garden each year in terms of perennial plantings, and are always on the lookout for new and interesting perennial vegetables.  Not that “new” is really the right term – the perennial versions of vegies like kale, broccoli and celery are actually much older than the annual versions which tend to grow (and obviously die) more quickly but yield more than their perennial ancestors.

Beyond the better known perennial veg like asparagus and globe artichoke is a world of exciting and tasty variants, two of which feature in the boxes today.

These are the Egyptian Walking Onion (cue Bangles song and requisite dance moves) and the Rocoto perennial tree chilli. Both survive more than one season in the ground if given the chance and are just as delicious and useful as their annual cousins.

We hope you enjoy these fruits of absolutely no labour at all – and if you know of any other wonderful perennials please let us know – we are always looking for lazier ways to garden!

Tomato sambal

While sambal is technically a sauce, this version is so chunky and moreish it easily holds its own as a side. Great with rice, eggs and/or tofu, and so fast to make…..serves 4 as a topping/side.

Ingredients

  • 80ml vegetable or canola oil
  • 1-2 chillies, depending on desired heat
  • half a red onion or 2 shallots
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 medium-sized tomatoes
  • handful of cashews or macadamias
  • sliver of shrimp paste (about 1/2 tsp) or 1 tsp fish sauce
  • good pinch of sea salt
  • juice of 1-2 limes or half to 1 lemon, depending on desired acidity
Method 

Step 1: Throw all the ingredients except for the oil and lime/lemon juice in a food processor or blender and blend until the mixture resembles a salsa or chunky soup.

Step 2: Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok over medium heat and fry the blended sauce, stirring from time to time, until it changes colour, reduces and dries out a little (about 10-15 mins).

Add more oil during the cooking if the sauce looks too dry – now isn’t the time to worry about fat and calories as the oil is needed to achieve a luscious end product.

Step 3: Season with the lime/lemon juice to taste before serving, and adjust salt if needed.