It has been the first year of the vegetable patch in France and it has been amazing! I can't take all the credit. My husband put up the greenhouse and made me some staging in 40 degree heat and my sons have been taking turns rotovating and digging up tree stumps when they have been here.
I've always had a vegetable patch but have had mixed results, mainly because the soil where we used to live was predominantly clay. We spent a fortune having top soil brought in and digging constantly. Now we are living in proper farmland and the soil is a deep, chocolatey brown. It's fantastic to see the constantly changing landscape and the stream of tractors and machinery clattering by. That is the only traffic! It's so different to living in a town in England.The view from the garden is rather autumnal at the moment, we've had a lot of rain and that means comfort food is calling me. So what better than mashed potato? My lot go mad for it, in fact my eldest and husband positively ask for it in English restaurants rather than chips. The vegetable patches are now looking a bit sad but I can't help but get excited that the swede, broccoli, leeks, cauli and parsnips will soon be ready.
I usually serve a potato dauphinois, either the real one or my cheat version: http://chezlerevefrancais.com/?p=478 to go with the duck confit: http://chezlerevefrancais.com/?p=492 but, if I'm honest I was running out of hours in the day, as well as potatoes, so I came up with this instead.The inspiration was this. The rather boring broccoli plants, that had looked sad all summer, had suddenly churned out loads of luscious leaves. To date, however, there was no sign of the purple sprouting broccoli! I've been trying to concentrate on the winter veggies that are the most expensive here to buy.
Compared to the UK France seems to have bigger, better, juicier vegetables, but over the last few years I have noticed a real hike in prices. Hence the vegetable garden, which is now four patches.
And I wondered.....could we eat the leaves while waiting for the spears or would we kill it? Is it like rhubarb, where the leaves are poisonous? Nah..I have to admit that a quick google confirmed that you could take a couple of leaves a week from a plant without any damage to the plant.So sorry about my boring little story.....must get out more! Who could resist those fresh, free leaves? Just take about 4 large potatoes and peel and cut into chunks. Cover with boiling water and microwave on full power for about 10 minutes until tender. Slice the spring onions and wash and slice the greens. You could use savoy or kale, anything which keeps the green colour. Fry the vegetable gently until softened. Drain the potatoes and mash. Season and add some butter or milk if you like. Enjoy with your favourite dish. The broccoli leaves have a mild flavour so are more palatable for any fussy people in the house!
- 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks.
- 4 large broccoli leaves or other dark green leaf, washed and sliced.
- 4 large spring onions, sliced.
- optional butter/ milk
- Boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes.
- In the meantime gently fry the broccoli and spring onions until softened.
- Drain the potatoes and mash with butter and milk if liked.
- Season and combine all the ingredients together.