Side Dish

Spring Herbal Vinegar with Dandelion, Nettle & Comfrey

For us, the season of Spring is a beautiful and abundant time for making herbal medicine. Herbal vinegars are one of our favourite things to make this time of year and have become a real staple in our kitchen. Infusing herbs in raw apple cider vinegar is such a simple, delicious and effective way of drawing out the potent minerals and vitamins from the plants. Head out into nature and you’ll be sure to find many wild herbs that you can bring back to the kitchen. Often, we can be lured into believing that health has to come from expensive superfoods or supplements, but these wild herbs have many medicinal properties and are completely free to forage (or can be grown easily at home).

Spring Herbal Vinegar Dandelion Nettle
Spring Herbal Vinegar Dandelion Nettle
Spring Herbal Vinegar Dandelion Nettle
Spring Herbal Vinegar Dandelion Nettle
Spring Herbal Vinegar Dandelion Nettle
Spring Herbal Vinegar Dandelion Nettle

Although this vinegar is rich in nutrients, the main reason we make it again and again is because it tastes so delicious. It’s an amazing ally to have in the kitchen to make tasty salad dressings, blend into dips and sauces, add to soups or stews or even put on roast vegetables for a burst of flavour. Even though this is a recipe, we invite you to be creative and adapt it depending on what you have growing or can forage, what flavours you like or what medicinal qualities you’d like to include (for example, if your family suffers a lot with sore throats then thyme would be an excellent herb to add). We also have a recipe for the well-loved Fire Cider Vinegar that is amazing for fighting viruses. Below we’ve listed some more ideas for herbs/roots/ingredients that work really well:

Spices/etc
Garlic
Onion
Ginger
Orange/Lemon Peel
Cloves
Cardamom
Chilli
Cinnamon

Herbs
Dandelion leaves or root Tarragon
Mint Lemon Balm
Oregano Sage
Fennel Bay Leaves
Stinging Nettle Comfrey Leaf
Rosemary Nasturtium petal
Thyme
Dill
Chives


In our Spring Herbal Vinegar that you see pictured, we used dandelion leaf, nettles, rosemary, comfrey leaf, bay leaf and sage. Our preferred vinegar is raw apple cider vinegar because of the flavour and live cultures it contains, however you can use other varieties like red or white wine vinegar.

Method
1. Using your hands or a pair of scissors, cut or tear your chosen herbs into small pieces and lightly fill a clean jar. You don’t want to overpack the jar. Any ingredients like garlic or ginger should be finely diced.
2. Next, pour the vinegar over the herbs and fill the jar.
3. Using the end of a wooden spoon, push down the herbs and allow any air bubbles to rise to the surface.
4. Screw on the lid of your jar. Vinegar reacts with metal so using a plastic lid is preferred. However, if you don’t have this you can place a piece of baking paper between the jar and the lid (as seen in the photo).
5. Label the jar with the date and leave for 4-6 weeks. We like to leave ours on the kitchen surface and give it a shake every few days with some good intentions!
6. After 4-6 weeks you can strain the vinegar and compost any herbs or plant material. Now the vinegar is ready to be enjoyed!

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What herbs are growing near you this time of year?
Have you ever made a herbal vinegar?

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Overnight Sourdough Spelt Bread

This overnight sourdough recipe has been pretty life changing for us. Although we appreciate the care and skill that goes into a true sourdough, we love this recipe for it’s simplicity and speed. As this is a quick ferment, the flavour is less tangy than a loaf made with a starter, but it still has all of the delicious flavour and texture of homemade bread. We love to add seeds or nuts to the bread for extra nutrition as well as taste. Poppy seeds on top create such a delicious crust, whilst pumpkin seeds bring so much flavour and a burst of green in each slice.

We’ve used spelt flour in this recipe as we love the taste and the way it bakes. Spelt does contain some gluten, although much less than normal wheat flour. We personally find it so much more digestible than other grains such as wheat or rye, so we tend to make this bread every 2 or so weeks. It’s incredible topped with our vegan turmeric butter or with mashed avocado and lemon.

Overnight Sourdough Spelt Bread

Ingredients:
4 cups wholegrain spelt flour
2 cups filtered water
1/8th teaspoon dry active yeast
1.5 tsp Himalayan sea salt
3 tablespoons poppy seeds

Method:
1. In a large ceramic mixing bowl, add the flour, yeast, salt and 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds. Mix well.
2. Add the water and mix until completely combined, make sure you don’t leave any flour unmixed at the bottom of the bowl. (Note that the ideal water quantity may change slightly depending on your flour - but ultimately it should still work with this ratio, you want the dough to be sticky but not too wet, as it will get wetter as it ferments)
3. Cover the bowl and leave for 18-24 hours, the warmer your house, the faster it will ferment, and the more flavour it will have (we cover it with a plastic bag but you could use a large cloth). You should see the dough spread out and rise slightly inside the bowl, with some air bubbles on the top.
4. The next day, when its ready to bake, preheat your oven to gas mark 6 (200 degrees celcius).
5. Gently scoop the dough into a lined and greased loaf tin, or lined cast iron pot. Cast iron pots work really well as they hold the heat better and create a crisper crust, but we often use our loaf tin as we like the shape. Sprinkle the rest of the poppy seeds on top and leave the dough to sit for 10-15 minutes.
6. Bake for 50 minutes with the lid on (or foil on top), then remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the baking dish and tap the bottom of the loaf, it should sound fairly hollow and be quite crisp. If you want you can cook it for another 5-10 minutes out of the tin/pot to improve the crust.
7. Allow to cool before cutting and enjoy!

Overnight Sourdough Spelt Bread
Overnight Sourdough Spelt Bread

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Cashew Cream Sauce (Oil Free)

Next month we fly to India for a few months of travel, a yoga teacher training course & trekking in Nepal. We’re beyond excited to return to this wild and wonderful part of the world, and intend to share our journey on the blog with you! For now, we’re savouring all of the delicious foods we’ll miss during our time away. Don’t get me wrong, we’re so excited for all the incredible Indian food we’ll enjoy, but we’re making the most of fresh, vibrant food and having access to local organic produce.

This delicious cashew cream has been our go-to sauce the past few months. Soaked cashews become so rich and creamy when blended. We’ve combined them with a few other ingredients to make a really tasty sauce. Apple cider vinegar is a must have product in our kitchen - it has so many great uses! Make sure to get a raw vinegar that still has ‘the mother’ (aka live bacteria) in it. This means that it hasn’t been pasteurised and is therefore great for gut health. The vinegar gives the sauce a subtle tanginess that pairs so well with the nutritional yeast and hints of garlic/mustard powder.

cashew cream dressing
Cashew Cream Dressing

A couple of things I love about this sauce, besides the taste, are how easy it is to prepare and how versatile it is too. We’ve been enjoying it as a side to so many meals, here are some suggestions of recipes it pairs really well with:

Smokey Refried Black Beans
Chickpea Frittata with Sage & Rosemary
Sprouted Chickpea Falafel Burgers

Ingredients
1 cup of cashews, soaked for 2+ hours
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon of mustard powder
3/4 cup of water
1 tablespoon of white miso (optional but highly recommended)

Method
1. Soak cashews in water for at least 2 hours.
2. Drain and rinse the cashews and combine together in a blender with all of the other ingredients. Blend until smooth and add more water if you want a thinner consistency.
3. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, it should last at least 5 days.

cashew cream dressing

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Roasted Courgette (Zucchini) with Turmeric and Fennel

There's an abundance of courgettes (zuchinnis) growing in our garden right now, which is such a joy! We're growing 2 types, one of which is the Tromboncino variety .... the most delicious variety of courgette we've ever tried. The garden looks so beautiful this time of year, full of green and yellow shades and buzzing with bees. Growing your own food is rewarding on so many levels.

With all the courgettes around, we've been trying to find some different ways to enjoy preparing this vegetable. This recipe is one of our favourites, and although it's very simple, the flavours are delicious and it makes a great side dish to so many meals. If you've read our blog before, you'll know that we love turmeric and try to add it to our food whenever possible! We've also added fennel seeds for a burst of flavour, plus they are great for the digestive system. We love to serve this with curry or dhal, but it would be delicious with a risotto, stew or mixed into a fresh salad bowl.

Roasted Courgette Turmeric Fennel
Roasted Courgette Turmeric Fennel

Ingredients (serves 3-4 as a side dish)
3-4 medium courgettes (zucchinis)
1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1 tablespoon of organic olive oil
fresh pepper and salt to taste

Method 
1. Grease a large baking tray and pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6. 
2. Cut the courgettes in half, long ways. If the courgette has a lot of seeds in the middle, scoop these out with a spoon. Some varieties have more seeds than others. 
3. Cut the courgette into small cubes and place onto the baking tray. Pour over the olive oil, spreading evenly. Add the turmeric, fennel seeds, salt & pepper, mixing well with your hands. 
4. Bake for around 20-25 minutes. We like to leave them with a little bite. 
5. Serve and enjoy! 

Roasted Courgette Turmeric Fennel

What's your favourite way to prepare courgette/zucchini? We'd love to hear from you! 

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