a purple phase

artichoke flowerbee on verbena

We are going through a purple phase. The artichokes are flowering, the verbena is attracting the bees alongside the fading lavender and we’re eating purple meals.

The problem is that though the vegetables are growing fast (I turn my back for a moment to find the courgettes have doubled in size and the runner beans are almost a foot long) sometimes there are only a few of each ready at any one time. Rather than make lots of saucepans dirty, I make a  vegetable stew based on Half the Garden Soup from The River Cottage Year book that uses small quantities of lots of different vegetables. Adding potatoes means another saucepan saved too. Not only is this easy to make but it varies as the season progresses.
I made the stew last week. One of our most successful vegetables at the moment is beetroot and I used quite a lot in the stew. Consequently, supper consisted of soft confit of rabbit leg perched atop a purple stained mound of vegetables and then, showing a distinct lack of planning in the visual department, we ate blackcurrant compote for pudding that was an even deeper purple. It was a very purple meal that reminded me of an art teacher we had at school whose wardrobe consisted almost entirely of purple clothes. I wonder if she still wears purple or if it was just a phase. Should you decide to make the stew, purple or otherwise, the recipe is below.

half the garden stewHalf the Garden Stew

For four to six servings, depending on how many of each vegetable you use, fry 500g onions until they’re soft, add the same or more of chopped skinned tomatoes and when they’re soft and pulpy,  pour in 300ml of water. Add a pinch of salt and some diced potato and simmer for ten minutes.

While it’s simmering roughly chop some or all of whatever’s growing in the garden such as carrots, beetroot, courgettes, peas, runner beans, French beans, pumpkin, squash, leeks, parsnips … and throw in the pot.

Simmer for another ten minutes or until the vegetables are only just tender and then add a mixture of finely shredded leaves such as chard, parsley, cutting celery or spinach and cook for two minutes or so, depending on how cooked you like your leaves.

I spoon this into a bowl rather than a plate as there’s quite a lot of liquid.
If I have a joint of cold roast pork in the fridge, I’ll cube it and fry in a knob of butter until crisp and then scatter over the vegetables.

11 thoughts on “a purple phase

  1. Mrs Thomasina Tittlemouse says:

    Your vegetable stew, purple or otherwise, sounds very good but I am treading warily around beetroot at the moment. Got carried away and made a chocolate and beetroot cake – sounded lovely (especially as the recipe said you couldn’t really detect the beetroot flavour) but I am afraid this was optimistic and unless you love beetroot I wouldn’t recommend it – tasted to me as though a flower-pot of earth had been added to a lot of nice ingredients. If you have any tips for what to do with the remainder – about 97% – I’d be glad to hear them! Otherwise the hens are getting it! Though even they may turn up their noses at it! So vegetable stew, yes, but no beetroot in mine! E x

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  2. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial says:

    Anne, this post is SO serendipitous – I’ve just watched this River Cottage episode again yesterday (Autumn series), and I have a post scheduled to go up on Monday about colours in the garden! 🙂 Purple and blue are the colours that we don’t get much in winter – they’re really spring and summer garden colours here! Do you ever use stock in your stew?

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  3. Joanne T Ferguson (@mickeydownunder) says:

    G’day Anne! I love the color purple, true!
    I recently saw a purple cauliflower and could not take my eyes off of and of course, it jumped in my shopping trolley and just HAD to come home with me…luckily, I figured out what recipe to include it into!
    Cheers! Joanne

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  4. elaine says:

    Not sure about putting beetroot in the stew but it is certainly a good way of using up a few different veg. I have a packet of purple cauli seed for next year – looks gorgeous but don’t know whether it will hold its colour when cooked.

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