Thursday, 9 February 2017

Seasonal Food in February

So it’s February. 

February seems to float in and out of winter’s spectrum quite swiftly, with it being a short month smattered with a quick celebratory offering of Valentine’s Day and Shrove Tuesday - it’s then gone.

That to one side, thinking about food (as always), I was asked by Central England Co-op to explore the scope of seasonal goods available in February.

So whilst we’ll all familiar with seasonal goods in summer and even at Christmastime, what’s around in February?  Quite a lot actually. 

On the cusp of remaining seasonal are: cabbage, cauliflower, rhubarb, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, leek, parsnip and swede - whilst oranges, kale, purple sprouting broccoli are at their peak.  All of which lend themselves well in many recipes.

My first recipe suggestion, in lieu of purple sprouting broccoli, I made some griddled Tenderstem Broccoli, a snack I make when I don’t want a full meal, but when I just want ‘something’ or equally, it makes for a nice side dish.  Flavoured with oil, salt and lemon juice, it’s simple and quick.  Ideal.  This time, I ate it alongside a few Co-op Olives on one of those days when something ‘picky’ was just enough.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
Tenderstem Broccoli (Or Purple Sprouting Broccoli)

200g Tenderstem Broccoli
Drizzle of Co-op Olive Oil
Grinding of Salt (preferably Pink Himalayan Salt)
Juice of Half a Lemon

·         Shallow fry the broccoli in water in a griddle pan (just enough water to cover the base of the griddle).

·         Shallow fry until the water has evaporated and the broccoli has slightly wilted.

·         Drizzle over the oil, lemon juice and salt.

·         Continue to fry for another 2 minutes until the broccoli has absorbed all the flavours before serving.

One dish which encompasses a lot of the goodness in February’s repertoire is Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie which I made and tweaked, inspired by Lorraine Pascale’s recipe featured on the BBC programme The Hairy Bikers and Lorraine Pascale: Cooking the Nation's Favourite Food

With vitamin C rich cauliflower, leeks packed with fibre and vitamins A, B1, B6 and C there is plenty of nutrition within and ingredients are available at Co-op Stores with some support from a few store cupboard essentials. 

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie

For the filling

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 leek, trimmed, finely chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 75g chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 200g Ready to Eat Puy Lentils (from a tin <drained> or a packet)
  • 200g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 100ml vegetable stock
  • 100ml red wine
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping

  • 1 (2 if small) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm/¾in chunks
  • 2 potatoes peeled and cut into 2cm/¾in chunks
  • ½ small cauliflower, leaves and root removed, separated into florets
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp finely grated cheese (cheddar)

For the filling, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the leek and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until beginning to soften.

Add the carrots, mushrooms and garlic and continue to cook, stirring regularly, for 4-5 minutes.

Add the dried mixed herbs, lentils, tinned tomatoes, stock and red wine and stir together until well combined. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat until it is simmering and continue to simmer for 15 minutes while you make the topping.

Preheat the oven to 200C/180 Fan/Gas 6.

For the topping, add the sweet potato and potato to boiling water and boil for 10-12 minutes. Add the cauliflower and boil for a further 8 minutes, or until tender.

Drain the vegetables well and return them to the pan. Add the oil, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then mash until smooth. Set aside and keep warm.

Add the chilli flakes (if using) into the filling mixture, which should have thickened during cooking. Continue to simmer for a further 1-2 minutes, adding a little water if the mixture is too dry (simmer for longer if the mixture is too watery). Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Transfer the filling mixture to an ovenproof baking dish, then spoon over the topping and spread into an even layer. If you like a crispy topping, create peaks in the mash using a fork. Sprinkle over the cheese.

Take the shepherd’s pie in the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until the topping is golden-brown and the filling is bubbling.


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
A quick easy-peasy dessert is an Instant Chocolate Mousse which was inspired by a recipe taken from Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Express book.
Taking a seasonal orange (or blood orange if you can get one) as the signature flavour here, I used the recipe in the link below, however, I removed the marshmallows, swapped the butter for olive oil and the water for juice from the orange. 

Taking the orange theme one step further, I used Co-op 56% Cocoa Dark Chocolate with Orange from the ‘Irresistible’ range. 

Chocolately, citrusy, creamy – it’s got it all!

Click here for the recipe.


More information is available on the Co-op Food website about seasonal food via this link. 

Disclosure:  I was sent complementary Co-op vouchers to explore seasonal foods.  The review was conducted honestly without bias. For further information about reviews, please see the Disclosure tab on this website.