The root of all joy

We’ve been chatting beetroot today. All things from baby beets boiled in the pan to bigger ones roasted in the oven. We were at The Black Swan at Oldstead for my birthday in January – a hard time of year for chefs produce-wise – and they did a whole course of beetroot, which was incredible. And I still remember an incredible bowl of borscht I had at a little restaurant in New York years ago. It was one of the best nights of my life.

Beet is so versatile and we’re going to plant a variety this year. It’s at its best used simply, so last night we roasted some, cling filmed the cooling tray and then slipped the skins off (way easier than pink fingered peeling!) and served them with lots of dill and a little white balsamic vinegar. If I’d had it, I would have popped a dollop of sour cream on top, but it was amazing all the same.

We’ve also been talking courgettes. I was googling Italian courgette salads for a bride we have this summer (her mum is Italian) and I found a recipe that asks for white courgettes. Weirdly, as I write this we’re on holiday in Lanzarote and lo and behold the supermarket here sells them! They’re now on the list to be grown this year and we’re planning to have them tonight with a barbecued rib of beef. God, I love food!

I’ve got to educate myself about how they grow things in the black volcanic soil here. It’s the strangest thing, like someone’s put big rocks into a rock muncher to make tiny rocks they call soil. It’s so weird. I know from O-Level geography years ago that it’s super fertile, but it still seems like magic to me.

We’re also enjoying fantastic wine here and what with that, the food and the sun, I’m in Lanzarote heaven, while at home there is spring snow. Roll on summer!

Vicky Moffitt, of Vallum Farm on Hadrian’s Wall, shares the trials and tribulations of the Kitchen Garden which supplies produce to the farm’s weddings and events marquee, and Restaurant Pine. Vallum, Military Road, Newcastle, NE18 0LL, tel 01434 672 652,

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