I have enjoyed the few days’ rain that we have had here last week in Toowoomba. It has made my vegetable patch come ALIVE. I mention the veggie patch from time to time but I don’t think I have really given it a spotlight in the last year... It really does deserve a bit of a mention because it is my own vegetable market in my yard. When we first moved to this house over 18 months ago now there was no such thing as a veggie patch. The yard was neglected to say the least, we had an orchard of sorts, a few mistreated looking citrus trees, guava, nectarine and mulberry tree. It was a widower who owned the house previously and I think the one acre yard was too much for her to handle after the death of the husband.
|Vegetable Garden Stage 1.|
Anyway hubby and I got our heads down and got the vegetable patch started within a month or two of us moving into the house. The ground was black, hard clay soil and it was a HUGE job to mark out the garden beds, dig them up and turn the soil over, and remove the grass from the beds. I think we then shovelled at least 6-8 trailer loads (probably more) of soil between the seven garden beds we had created. It was back breaking, sweaty, hard work! Hubby did a lot of the labour intensive work and I helped where I could – shovelling and wheelbarrowing soil here and there. We eventually fenced off the veggie patch against rabbits, foxes, kangaroos and whatever else travelled through our yard at night. We would have no chance keeping anything in the garden if we didn’t have a fence.
|My gorgeous husband!|
The garden has evolved over the last 18 months with 7 separate beds becoming 4 large boxed beds which has helped create more area to grow things. We spend every afternoon out in the yard, pottering away in it, weeding, mulching, watering, fertilising and picking our produce. It’s one of the other things apart from cooking that I find relaxes me. It’s mindless work and to see the reward of all your hard work pay off in the form of vine ripened tomatoes, freshly picked corn or big fat heirloom beetroot freshly picked from the patch. Not only has that it saved us a lot of money at the supermarket. In summer when our veggie patch is at its peak we can save at least 25% at the checkout.
|Keeper of the garden... our dog Abby!|
I just love to waltz out to the veggie patch with a basket in hand and pick what I need for dinner that night..... Heirlooms carrots and beetroot, a head of freshly dried garlic, big firm round and long green zucchini’s, fresh crunchy green beans and a sprinkling of freshly picked herbs all roasted to perfection. What does this then equal?
My delicious Roast Vegetable Quinoa Salad. I use quinoa a lot and find it satisfyingly good in all seasons – spring, summer, autumn and winter. Eat it hot or cold, for breakfast, lunch or dinner, by itself or as a side the possibilities are endless. This salad is just perfection with the drizzling of truffle infused oil to finish it off. I used this as a side to a lovely roast beef – it was a nice spin to the classic roast meal.
I just love the combinations of flavours that this salad brings. This makes a nice big bowlful and I love eating the leftovers for lunch in the days after making it. The flavours only develop more and it tastes even better! If I eat it by itself I sometimes add a poached egg or a tin of tuna to the salad to give it a bit more protein!
Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad
Serves 6-8 as a side
2 cups quinoa, uncooked
4 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cups vegetables, roughly diced evenly in medium sized pieces
(I used: heirloom beetroots, zucchini, mushrooms, heirloom carrots)
1 whole bulb of garlic, cut in half horizontally.
½ cup green beans, chopped into quarters & blanched
2 tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp truffle oil (or olive oil)
Place the uncooked quinoa in a sieve and rinse under cold water. This removes the bitter flavour from the grains. Place the quinoa into a medium saucepan, over a medium to low heat, with the chicken stock and olive oil. Simmer gently on low for 10-15 minutes until all of the water has been soaked up. Remove from heat and set aside for 1-2 hours or overnight in the fridge. Fluff the grains with a fork upon removing from the fridge.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Meanwhile place your chosen vegetables (excluding the beans) & garlic into a roasting tray and drizzle with a little olive oil and salt & pepper. Roast vegetables for 35-45 minutes until cooked through. Remove from oven and set aside to cool down.
In a small bowl squeeze the flesh of the garlic halves along with the herbs, vinegar, oil and salt & pepper. Mix with a fork until combined.
In a large bowl place half of the cooked quinoa, half of the roasted vegetables & beans and half of the dressing. Toss to combine and repeat with the remaining half.
Garnish with fresh herbs. This salad can be served warm or cold, as a meal in itself or as an accompaniment.
Why not add this to your Christmas Menu for something different!?
How are your Christmas plans going... hoping everyone is on track and not too stressed!
I will be sharing this recipe at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free.