I’d heard about veg and recipe boxes, but it was a concept I didn’t really get historically. I really don’t mind physically going to the supermarket and picking out my own ingredients. That said, I believe the men of the house are probably getting bored of my attempts to make my Chickpea Stew different! I’m also struggling for time more now with Dinky in the house. Interested in discovering what these boxes had to offer, I received one from a local Riverford agent (you can find your own here). The box contained enough ingredients to make two meals, and there were helpful recipe cards included. Based on the directions, there were also some ‘leftovers’ from the produce in the box which could be used in other meals throughout the course of the week.
What I liked about their website is that you can choose which box you receive based on the recipes that interest you. The vegetarian boxes also cost less than the meat and fish versions, so if you’re trying to economise this could be a more cost-effective way of buying this organic produce. I also thought the fact that the meat boxes also include a vegetable dish was a great idea. It seems like the dishes are easily adapted for those with dietary requirements too, so I had no concerns about feeding Mr. Canny out of what arrived.
I decided to make the Cauliflower Caponata dish first, which ended up being our Sunday lunch. Thankfully there was nothing really complicated in terms of the cooking, and all the equipment I needed was there already in my kitchen. The extra ingredients were already in my store cupboard – salt & pepper and olive oil. Allergen information is also helpfully included, if that is a concern.
Cauliflower Caponata (suitable for vegans)
- 2 shallots
- 2 celery stalks
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 cauliflower
- Olive oil
- 2 tbsp capers
- 2 tbsp sultanas
- 3 tomatoes
- 40g green olives
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- ¼ tsp chilli flakes
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 30g parsley
- 40g flaked almonds
- 2 tortillas
- Salt & pepper
- Boil the kettle. Peel and finely slice the shallots. Wash the celery sticks and roughly dice. Peel and finely chop or crush 3 garlic cloves. Remove the leaves and main central stalk from the cauliflower. Cut or break the florets into small, bite-sized pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the frying pan. Add the shallots and celery and fry for 5 minutes, until they start to soften.
- While they cook, put the capers into a cup of water to help purge the salt. Put the sultanas in another cup and cover with hot water from the kettle to plump them up. Add the cauliflower to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until it begins to soften and take on a little colour.
- While the cauliflower cooks, roughly dice the tomatoes. Halve the olives. Drain the capers and sultanas and add to the pan with the tomatoes, olives, vinegar, chilli, turmeric, cumin, sugar (which are handily mixed already in the spice pot) and ⅓ of the chopped garlic. Season with salt and pepper, mix well and leave to cook on a gentle heat for 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower is tender. Add a dash of water if it starts to dry out.
- While the cauliflower mix cooks, preheat your oven to 200˚C/Gas Mark 6. Wash the parsley, shake it dry, remove the leaves and roughly chop. Mix half of the parsley with the remainder of the chopped garlic and 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, until it forms a pesto-like paste. Spread the flaked almonds evenly on a baking tray and pop into the oven for 2-3 minutes to lightly toast. Be very careful not to burn them: they should be a light brown colour only! Remove and leave to cool.
- Lay out 2 of the tortillas from the pack and evenly spread the garlic and parsley mix across them. Scatter with salt and pepper. Roll each one up into a loose cigar shape and wrap separately in foil. Pop into the oven for 8 minutes, until hot. When the cauliflower is done check the seasoning and adjust. Scatter over the toasted almonds and remaining parsley. Serve with the hot, unfurled tortillas.
I’ll admit, not everything went to plan and there were bits of the recipe I hadn’t read properly and improvised. That said, what I turned out looked worthy of a food magazine and I felt very proud of myself!
Mr. Canny was also impressed. The contrast of salty (olives and capers) worked well against the natural sweetness of the cauliflower and the sultanas. There was a mild kick for the chilli flakes, but nothing that would cause offence. Although the recipe states it was for two people, there was easily enough for 3 with a side included. A green salad would be nice alongside the herby tortillas.
The second recipe of Steamed Teriyaki Fish – which I substituted for Aubergine – was not as quick and easy to prepare, being totally honest. I’m lazy with certain ingredients and found having to peel and chop my own ginger fiddly when I normally use the jars (shameful, but remember I have two kids!). I was told afterwards that a spoon is a useful tool in this endeavour, so I’ll bear that in mind in future!
If you are apprehensive or rusty in terms of preparing vegetables, like me, Riverford are hosting a Vegetable Cookery Class on the 3rd November in Ouseburn. More information can be found here. This hands-on course will help you get to grips with the green stuff, and will be using seasonal produces grown at Riverford’s organic farms. The cost of the class also includes your first vegbox, as well as a useful cookery book to use at home.
I was impressed with the quality of the ingredients and what I was able to produce following the instructions. I don’t think they are fast suppers, but if you want to spend a bit of time in the kitchen to create something different for a weekend supper – for example – these are perfect. I would definitely consider ordering another box in the future to help ‘pep up’ my weekly meal plans.
Thanks for reading,
Like our recipes? Check this one out for the Brazilian classic Feijoada here.