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Tips & Techniques

VEGETABLES - KNOW YOUR VEG

Carrots"An onion can make people cry but there's never been a vegetable that can make people laugh.” ~ Will Rogers

Vegetable is a term which generally refers to an edible part of a plant. The definition is traditional rather than scientific and is somewhat arbitrary and subjective. All parts of herbaceous plants eaten as food by humans, whole or in part, are normally considered vegetables. Mushrooms, though belonging to the biological kingdom Fungi, are also commonly considered vegetables.[citation needed] In general, vegetables are thought of as being savory, and not sweet, although there are many exceptions. Nuts, grains, herbs, spices and culinary fruits are normally not considered vegetables.
(Wikipedia - the free encyclopedia)

For further reading see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegetables

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VARIETIES OF VEGETABLES WIDELY AVAILABLE:

 

Globe ArtichokeGlobe Artichoke
An impressive-looking green-purple globe-shaped vegetable covered in layers of leaves, that is actually an edible type of thistle. Globe artichokes require a little effort in preparation and cooking, however the results are well worth it and they are often considered to be a luxury. A hairy choke is surrounded by the inner leaves which are not eaten but are discarded to reveal the deliciously nutty edible part of the artichoke the heart. If the artichokes are young and fresh the stem can also be eaten. Choose artichokes with slightly closed stiff leaves and a short stalk.

How to Use
Globe artichokes are served cooked. Serve whole globe artichokes as single-portion impressive-looking starters with melted butter or vinaigrette for dipping. Artichoke hearts also add a wonderful flavour to salads, pasta dishes, vegetable bakes and pizzas.

How to Prepare
Cut off most of the stalk and trim off the points of the outer leaves with scissors or a sharp knife. Wash thoroughly in cold water and then rub any cut surfaces with lemon juice.

How to Cook
Artichokes can be boiled or steamed. To boil, cook in a pan of boiling water with 1 tbsp lemon juice for 30 - 40 minutes or until a leaf will pull out easily. To steam, place in a steamer and cook for 35 - 45 minutes or until a leaf will pull out easily. To eat artichokes pull away the leaves individually, dip the base of the leaf into butter or vinaigrette and pull through your teeth, discarding the rest of the leaf. When you reach the hairy choke (it looks like the closed head of a thistle) pull it out and discard to reveal the prized meaty heart at the base which can be removed with a teaspoon and eaten.

How to Store
Keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.

 
  Jerusalem ArtichokeJerusalem Artichoke
Quite different in appearance and taste from the globe artichoke the Jerusalem artichoke is a knobbly root vegetable that is similar in appearance to fresh root ginger and can be up to 12 cm in length. Rather confusingly the Jerusalem artichoke is not a member of the artichoke family and has nothing to do with Jerusalem! It is a member of the sunflower family and its name is thought to have originated from the Italian for sunflower, girasole. Jerusalem artichokes have a satisfying nutty, earthy flavour. When buying, choose firm, unblemished tubers, try to avoid really misshapen artichokes as they are difficult to peel.

How To Use
Jerusalem artichokes can be eaten raw or cooked. Grated raw artichokes add a subtle nutty flavour to salads or they can be simply tossed in vinaigrette or mayonnaise. Cooked artichokes are great served with butter, mashed with other root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots or parsnips or served in a creamy sauce. They can also be made into vegetable crisps or soup.

How To Prepare
Peel or scrub the artichokes and cut into even-sized pieces for cooking. Place them into a bowl of water with a squeeze of lemon juice added to prevent them from discolouring. If the artichokes are particularly knobbly, cook them first and then peel off the skins before serving.

How To Cook
Artichokes can be boiled or steamed; the cooking times will depend on the size of the pieces. To boil, bring a pan of water to the boil and add the prepared artichokes, cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until tender. To steam, place the artichokes in a steamer and steam for 20 - 25 minutes or until tender.

How To Store
Keep in a cool, dry place or in the fridge for up to 1 week.

 
 

AsparagusAsparagus
Often considered to be a delicacy, with its straight spears and compact tip, asparagus is an attractive elegant looking vegetable with a wonderfully subtle flavour. Choose firm, fresh-looking stalks.

How To Use
Asparagus is usually served cooked, but can be served hot or cold. It can be served as an accompanying vegetable to light summer meals such as poached fish or grilled chicken. Add cooked asparagus to rice or pasta salads, pasta sauces, quiches or risottos. Hot asparagus can also be served as a simple but flavoursome starter with plenty of warm crusty bread and hollandaise sauce, melted butter or a classic vinaigrette dressing made from olive oil, lemon juice, freshly ground black pepper and sea salt for dipping.

How To Prepare
Wash each stalk and snap or cut off the end if it is woody or tough. Trim the stalks to roughly the same length to ensure even cooking and tie in bunches of 6 - 8 stems.

How To Cook
Asparagus can be boiled or steamed, for best results keep the tips away from direct heat as they cook faster. The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness and freshness of the stalks. To boil, place the bundles upright in a pan of boiling water to come three-quarters of the way up the stalks, cook for 3 - 8 minutes or until tender. To steam, place the bundles upright in a steamer, cook for 3 - 8 minutes or until tender.

How To Store
Keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.

 
 

AubergineAubergine
This attractive-looking dark, glossy purple vegetable is often thought to be native to the Mediterranean but in fact it was originally from Asia. Also known as the eggplant, aubergines have a ‘meaty’ texture and a very subtle, but delicious earthy flavour. Aubergines have the ability to absorb other flavours and are often cooked with a selection of aromatic spices and onions. They are a particularly popular ingredient in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cookery. When buying, look for plump, heavy aubergines with a shiny, unblemished skin.

How To Use
Aubergines are always eaten cooked. They can be diced or sliced and included in a variety of hearty dishes such moussaka, ratatouille, roasted vegetables, curries and dips. Aubergines can also be stuffed or sliced and grilled or served as fritters. Flavours that combine particularly well with aubergines include garlic, tomatoes, peppers, cumin, coriander and cinnamon.

How To Prepare
Wash and top and tail, then slice, dice or split horizontally if stuffing. Salting aubergines isn't essential (in the past it was necessary to remove any bitter juices, but modern varieties are not usually bitter) but it can prevent them absorbing too much oil in recipes where they are fried. If you choose to salt them, place the prepared aubergine in a colander, sprinkle salt evenly over the cut surfaces and leave for about 30 minutes. Rinse under cold running water and pat dry with kitchen towel before cooking.

How To Cook
Aubergines can be fried or baked. To fry aubergine slices, coat them in flour, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and add the slices, cook stirring often until browned and tender. To bake halved aubergines, preheat the oven to 190°C, Gas mark 5, top with a tomato sauce or slices of tomato and mozzarella cheese and bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until tender.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
 

Baby LeeksBaby Leeks
These tender little leeks are a member of the garlic and onion family, they have a wonderfully subtle, sweet flavour and are an attractive pale green colour. Baby leeks are ideal for cooking and serving whole. Choose firm, fresh-looking leeks that have a firm white bulb.

How To Use
Baby leeks are usually cooked before eating. Leeks go particularly well with lamb and pork. Serve as an accompanying vegetable in a cheese or white sauce, or sauté whole leeks in butter, wrap in ham, sprinkle with grated Cheddar cheese and bake in the oven for a simple starter.

How To Prepare
The layers between leeks can trap grit or soil so they should be thoroughly washed before use. If serving whole leeks, stand the leeks upside down to soak in a tall jug of water, so that any dirt will float out. If you are using sliced leeks cut off the root and any of the green top that looks tough and slice and rinse thoroughly under cold running water.

How To Cook
Baby leeks can be pan-fried, baked, braised or roasted. To pan-fry, heat a little olive oil and butter in a frying pan, add the prepared whole leeks and cook gently for 10 - 15 minutes or until tender. To bake, preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5, place the prepared leeks in an ovenproof dish, cover with cheese or white sauce and bake for 30 40 minutes or until tender. To braise leeks, pour 3 cm chicken or vegetable stock into a frying pan, add the leeks, cover and cook gently for 15 - 20 minutes or until tender. To roast preheat the oven to 200C, gas mark 6. Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a roasting tin and heat in the oven, add the leeks, season well and roast for 35 - 45 minutes or until tender.

How To Store
Keep in the fridge for 4 - 5 days.

 
 

BasilBasil
Basil is originally native to India, South East Asia and North East Africa. It is commonly used in Mediterranean and Italian cooking and is an essential ingredient in pesto.

How To Use
With its versatility basil adds colour and flavour to a number of dishes. It can be added to most Italian pastas and pizzas, mixed with olive oil, tomato puree and garlic to make a salad dressing, or simply scattered on a tomato salad.

How To Prepare
Basil leaves can be used chopped or whole and should be washed before use.

How To Cook
Fresh basil can be added either after or towards the end of cooking, or used as a garnish.

How To Store
Basil should be kept in a cool part of your kitchen, but not in the fridge.

 
 

Flat BeansFlat Beans
Also known as helda beans, flat beans are similar to the well-known runner bean. They are flat, stringless green beans with a smooth skin.

How To Use
Flat beans are served cooked as an accompaniment to a variety of main courses including fish, chicken, pork and lamb. To serve, toss in butter and freshly ground black pepper or flavoured olive oil.

How To Prepare
Wash and top and tail the beans and chop into into even-sized pieces or slice into ribbons before cooking.

How To Cook
Flat beans can be boiled or steamed. To boil, bring a pan of water to the boil, add the prepared beans and cook for 5 - 10 minutes or until just tender but still crisp (do not overcook as they will turn an unattractive khaki colour and go soggy). To steam, place the beans in a steamer and cook for 8 - 12 minutes or until just tender but still crisp

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
 

Runner BeansRunner Beans
Long, flat green beans that have a coarse textured skin. More mature beans may have a fibrous string running down each side.

How To Use
Runner beans are served cooked, usually as an accompaniment to meat or fish dishes. To serve, toss in butter and a little lemon zest or stir in 1 tbsp pine nuts and a drizzle of oil from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes.

How To Prepare
Wash and top and tail the beans and if necessary remove the string from the side of the bean using a small, sharp knife. Chop the beans into even-sized diamond pieces or slice into ribbons before cooking.

How To Cook
Runner beans can be boiled or steamed. To boil, bring a pan of water to the boil, add the prepared beans and cook for 5 - 10 minutes or until just tender but still crisp. To steam, place the beans in a steamer and cook for 8 - 12 minutes or until just tender but still crisp.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
 

Dwarf BeansDwarf Beans
Also known as French or round beans, dwarf beans are small straight green beans. They are quite plump and fleshy and have a soft and tender skin when cooked. Dwarf beans have a fresh, clean flavour.

How To Use
Dwarf beans are served cooked and can be eaten hot or cold. They can be served as an accompanying vegetable and go well with a variety of foods particularly fish, chicken and pork. Dwarf beans can also be included in stir-fries, soups and salads such as the classic French salad Tuna Nicoise which also includes potatoes, olives, anchovies, hard-boiled eggs and salad leaves.

How To Prepare
Wash and top and tail the beans and leave whole or chop into even-sized pieces before cooking.

How To Cook
Dwarf beans can be boiled or steamed. To boil, bring a pan of water to the boil, add the prepared beans and cook for 4 - 8 minutes or until just tender but still crisp. To steam, place the beans in a steamer and cook for 6 -10 minutes or until just tender but still crisp.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase

 
 

Broad BeansBroad Beans
Broad beans are small oval shaped creamy green beans with a distinctive flavour and a smooth creamy texture. They are available either in the pod or removed from the pod. Choose young small tender plump pods or small beans for the best flavour.

How To Use
Broad beans are usually served cooked and can be eaten hot or cold. Broad beans are a popular summer vegetable, serve simply with a sprinkling of fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, dill or thyme. Or include cooked broad beans in salads. For a quick, tasty supper fry some chopped streaky bacon, stir in some cooked broad beans, sprinkle with salt, pepper and fresh parsley and serve with warm crusty bread or mashed potato.

How To Prepare
Small broad bean pods up to 7 cm long, with the beans inside, are quite a delicacy, if you're lucky enough to find them they can be cooked whole simply wash and top and tail before cooking. To remove larger beans from the pod, snap off one end of the pod and split it open to reveal the broad beans. Wash the beans before cooking.

How To Cook
Broad beans can be boiled or steamed. Cook small broad beans in the pod in boiling water (without any salt or the skins turn tough) for 5 - 7 minutes until just tender. Cook broad beans in boiling water (don't add salt or the skins tend to toughen) for 5 - 10 minutes or steam for 7 - 12 minutes, the cooking time will depend on the size and age of the beans really fresh, small beans will cook quickly while larger, mature beans will take longer. When cooked, remove larger beans from their skins as they may be tough.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
 

Fine BeansFine Beans
A small, straight, narrow green bean that has a delicious flavour and tender texture.

How To Use
Fine beans are served cooked and can be eaten hot or cold. They can be served as an accompanying vegetable and are particularly good included in salads try adding them to potato salad with chopped sun-dried tomatoes and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Chopped, cooked extra fine beans can be added to an omelette with cheese and ham for a tasty one-pan meal.

How To Prepare
Wash and top and tail the beans and leave whole.
How To Cook
Fine beans can be boiled or steamed. To boil, bring a pan of water to the boil, add the prepared beans and cook for 3 - 8 minutes or until just tender but still crisp. To steam, place the beans in a steamer and cook for 5 - 10 minutes or until just tender but still crisp.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
 

BeetrootBeetroot
With its beautifully vivid dark reddish-purple colour, beetroot has to be one of the most distinctive looking vegetables. Related to the sugar beet and also known simply as beet, it is naturally high in sugar and has an earthy, sweet flavour with a hint of smokiness and a velvety smooth texture when cooked. When buying, look for firm, unblemished small to medium-sized beetroot with crisp, fresh looking tops. Beetroot tops can also be eaten the crinkly green leaves have an attractive red stalk, cook and serve as for spring greens.

How To Use
Beetroot can be eaten raw or cooked. Tender baby beetroot is the best choice if the beetroot is to be served raw. Raw beetroot can be grated and included in salads. Cooked beetroot can also be included in salads, made into soups, such as the classic Eastern European Bortsch, included in mixed roast vegetable dishes or pickled in vinegar. Baked or boiled beetroot can be sliced and tossed in butter and parsley or dill and served as an accompanying vegetable. Mint, horseradish, fennel and caraway all go well with cooked or raw beetroot.

How To Prepare
Wash the beetroot thoroughly; taking care not to damage the skin or the colour and flavour will bleed out during cooking. Trim the root to about 2.5 cm from the end and trim off any tops. If serving raw beetroot, trim the roots and top off and peel using a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler.

How To Cook
Beetroot can be boiled or baked. To boil, place the whole prepared beetroot in a pan of cold, salted water, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 1 - 3 hours until tender, depending on size. The beetroot is cooked when the skin slides off easily when rubbed. Remove the skin before serving. To bake, preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4, wrap the beetroot in foil and bake for 2 - 3 hours according to size. Remove the skin before serving.

How To Store
Keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.

 
 

BroccoliBroccoli
Also known as calabrese (it is originally from the Calabria region of Italy) broccoli with its tiny bright green buds, is one of the most popular vegetables in the UK. Along with cauliflower and cabbage it is a member of the brassica family. Look for bright green flower heads with firm stalks; avoid yellowing heads or wilting stalks.

How To Use
Broccoli can be served raw or cooked. Raw broccoli can be added to salads. Serve cooked broccoli as an accompanying vegetable it goes particularly well with chicken or fish dishes. Serve it simply steamed or dress with melted butter or olive oil and lemon juice. Broccoli can be added to stir-fry dishes and cooked florets make a tasty and colourful addition to pasta sauces or bakes.

How To Prepare
Broccoli is often sold ready-trimmed so there is very little wastage. Trim the stalk using a small sharp knife. Cut into even-sized florets and rinse in cold water.

How To Cook
Broccoli can be boiled, steamed or stir-fried. It is easy to overcook broccoli its beautiful vivid bright green colour turns to a dull greenish grey and it loses its crisp texture. To boil broccoli, place the florets in a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 6 – 8 minutes. To steam broccoli, place it in a steamer and cook for 6–8 minutes. To stir-fry broccoli, break it into bite-sized florets, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan and add the florets, cook for 4 – 5 minutes or until tender.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
 

Purple Sprouting BroccoliPurple Sprouting Broccoli
Often simply referred to as purple sprouting, this is the original version of broccoli and has long stalks and small purple flower heads. The leaves, heads and stalks are all tender and edible. Look for strong, firm green stalks with tightly packed purplish green heads.

How To Use
Purple sprouting broccoli is served cooked. It is usually served as an accompanying vegetable although it can be included in dishes such as quiches, salads, pasta bakes or stir-fries.

How To Prepare
Wash thoroughly and discard any tough leaves before cooking.

How To Cook
Purple sprouting broccoli can be steamed, boiled or stir-fried. To steam, place the prepared broccoli in a steamer and cook for 6 - 8 minutes or until just tender. To boil, bring a pan of water to the boil and add the prepared broccoli, cook for 5 - 7 minutes or until just tender. To stir-fry, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and add the broccoli and stir-fry for 6 - 8 minutes or until tender.

How To Store
Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days and use when it is as fresh as possible.

 
 

Savoy CabbageSavoy Cabbage
With its dark green crinkly or curled leaves, Savoy cabbage has quite a different texture and appearance from white, spring or green cabbage. It has loose tender leaves and a mellow flavour. Choose Savoy cabbage that has crisp-looking dark green leaves without any holes or discoloured patches. It should be firm and heavy for its size.

How To Use
Savoy cabbage is served cooked. Serve as a side dish with black pepper and butter, include in stir-fries or use individual leaves to enclose savoury fillings such as risottos or minced meat mixtures.

How To Prepare
Remove any damaged outer leaves and cut the cabbage in half and then into quarters, cut off the hard core from each quarter at an angle. Slice and wash thoroughly.

How To Cook
Cabbage can be steamed, boiled, stir-fried or used as a wrap for fillings, it is easy to overcook Savoy cabbage and spoil its texture and flavour so just cook until tender. To steam cabbage, place in a steamer and cook for 5-10 minutes until tender but still crisp. To boil, bring a pan of water to the boil, add the prepared cabbage and cook for 5 8 minutes until tender but still crisp. To stir-fry cabbage, heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan, add the cabbage and stir fry for 4-5 minutes or until tender but still crisp. To use individual leaves for fillings, place the filling in the centre of the leaf and bring the sides of the leaf over and then tuck in the top and bottom. The parcels can be steamed or covered in sauce and baked.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
 

Spring GreensSpring Greens
Spring greens are actually young, tender cabbage plants and are sold as loose heads of thick green leaves. Spring greens do not have the hard core which is found in the middle of fully-grown cabbages.

How To Use
Spring greens are served cooked. Serve as a side dish with plenty of butter and seasoning to accompany lamb, game, pork, beef and sausages. Or add to soups, stir-fries or vegetable bakes.

How To Prepare
Remove the leaves from the loose head, wash thoroughly and shred finely.

How To Cook
Spring greens can be steamed or stir-fried. To steam, place the leaves in a steamer and cook for 5 - 7 minutes or until just tender. To stir-fry, heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan and add the greens, stir-fry for 3 - 5 minutes or until just tender.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
 

Pointed CabbagePointed Cabbage
Pointed, hispi, hearted or sweetheart cabbage as it is sometimes known is a type of green cabbage with green leaves and a pointed head. The leaves are more open than those of a green cabbage and they have a softer texture and sweeter taste. When buying pointed cabbage look for crisp, bright looking leaves and avoid any that are wilting, yellowing or have discoloured patches or holes.

How To Use
Pointed cabbage is usually eaten cooked. It can be added to stir-fries or served with butter and black pepper as a side dish. It makes a tasty accompaniment to hearty stews and casseroles as well as grilled chops or steaks.

How To Prepare
Remove any damaged outer leaves and cut the cabbage in half and then into quarters, cut off the hard core from each quarter at an angle. Slice and wash thoroughly.

How To Cook
Cabbage can be steamed, boiled or stir-fried, it is easy to overcook cabbage and spoil its texture and flavour so just cook until tender. To steam cabbage, place in a steamer and cook for 5 - 10 minutes until tender but still crisp. To boil, bring a pan of water to the boil, add the prepared cabbage and cook for 5 - 8 minutes until tender but still crisp. To stir-fry cabbage, heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan, add the cabbage and stir fry for 4 - 5 minutes or until tender but still crisp.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
 

Green CabbageGreen Cabbage
Green cabbage is one of the most popular types of cabbage. Choose green cabbage that has crisp, bright looking leaves without any holes or discoloured patches. It should be firm and heavy for its size.

How To Use
Green cabbage is served cooked. Serve as a side dish with black pepper and butter or include in stir-fries.

How To Prepare
Remove any damaged outer leaves and cut the cabbage in half and then into quarters, cut off the hard core from each quarter at an angle. Slice and wash thoroughly.

How To Cook
Cabbage can be steamed, boiled or stir-fried, it is easy to overcook cabbage and spoil its texture and flavour so cook until just tender. To steam cabbage, place in a steamer and cook for 5 - 10 minutes until tender but still crisp. To boil, bring a pan of water to the boil, add the prepared cabbage and cook for 5 8 minutes until tender but still crisp. To stir-fry cabbage, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan, add the cabbage and stir-fry for 4 - 5 minutes or until tender but still crisp.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
 

Chinese LeafChinese Leaf
A type of Oriental cabbage, Chinese leaves or Peking cabbage as it is also known is a pale green, closely packed long cabbage with elongated crinkly leaves. It has a subtle cabbage flavour and is used mainly for its crunchy texture rather than its flavour. Chinese leaves have the ability to absorb other flavours and are often combined with rich or strong-tasting foods. Look for firm, compact leaves that feel crisp and fresh.

How To Use
Chinese leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Serve raw in salads. Include in mixed vegetable stir-fries to serve as a side dish or add to pork or chicken dishes. Lightly steamed or stir-fried Chinese leaves can be served as a vegetable side dish.

How To Prepare
Remove any damaged outer leaves and trim the root end. Separate the leaves and wash thoroughly in cold water. Slice into equal-sized strips for cooking or bite-sized pieces for eating raw.

How To Cook
Chinese leaves can be stir-fried or steamed, the leaves should still retain some crispness and bite after cooking. To stir-fry, heat 1 tbsp olive or sunflower oil in a frying pan, add the prepared leaves and stir-fry over a high heat for 1 - 2 minutes until heated right through but still crisp. To steam, cook the prepared leaves in a steamer for 2 - 3 minutes or until just cooked.

How To Store
Keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

 
 

Red CabbageRed Cabbage
The distinctive dark purple colour of red cabbage adds a beautiful splash of colour to a variety of savoury dishes. It benefits from long, slow cooking methods to bring out its mellow flavour. Choose red cabbage that has crisp-looking leaves without any holes or discoloured patches. It should be firm and heavy for its size.

How To Use
Red cabbage can be served raw or cooked. Raw red cabbage can be served in salads or pickled in vinegar to serve with cold meats and baked potatoes. Serve braised red cabbage cooked with apple and brown sugar as a side dish to accompany beef, pork or game dishes or include in stir-fries.

How To Prepare
Remove any damaged outer leaves and cut the cabbage in half and then into quarters, cut off the hard white core from each quarter at an angle. Slice and wash thoroughly.

How To Cook
Red cabbage is best braised, unlike other types of cabbage it does not spoil if overcooked. To braise red cabbage, layer the prepared red cabbage, 1 diced cooking apple, 3 tbsp brown sugar, 3 tbsp red wine vinegar, seasoning and a knob of butter in a flameproof casserole. Cook on the hob over a low heat or in the oven at 150°C, gas mark 2 for 1 - 2 hours or until very tender and cooked right through. To stir-fry red cabbage, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan, add the cabbage and stir fry for 4 - 5 minutes or until tender but still crisp.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase

 
 

KaleKale
Kale is an attractive looking member of the cabbage family. With its dark green or red frilly leaves and distinctive cabbage-like taste it is a popular alternative to cabbage, spring greens or spinach. Look for small bunches of kale with crisp, fresh-looking leaves.

How To Use
Kale is served cooked. It can be served finely chopped or as a purée for a side dish or included in soups and sauces or the classic dishes, bubble and squeak and champ. Kale complements a wide variety of food and its flavour profile means that it also works well with stronger dishes such as game or with spicy dishes. It can also be used in Indian dishes such as Kale Dhal.

How To Prepare
Cut the stalks off the frilly leaves and wash the leaves in cold water.

How To Cook
Kale can be steamed, stir fried or boiled. To steam, place the prepared leaves in a steamer and cook for 3 - 5 minutes or until just wilted. To boil, place the leaves in a pan with 2 tbsp water, cook, covered for 2 - 3 minutes or until just wilted. Kale absorbs a lot of liquid during cooking and should be drained thoroughly after cooking. Drain in a sieve and use a metal spoon to press out as much liquid as possible before serving.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
 

CarrotsCarrots
One of the most versatile, reasonably priced and popular vegetables in the UK, carrots have a sweet flavour, crisp texture and a distinctive orange colour. Baby carrots, which are cooked whole, are especially tender and sweet. Choose carrots that feel firm to the touch, have a smooth skin and a bright colour.

How To Use
Carrots can be eaten raw or cooked. Raw grated carrots are included in salads such as coleslaw and can be added to rice and nut salads or pasta salads. Cooked carrots are a popular accompanying vegetable and combine particularly well with other root vegetables such as swede or parsnip. They can be included in soups, stews and pies. Spices such as cardamom, cumin and coriander and herbs such as parsley and chives go particularly well with cooked carrots. Carrots are also included in a variety of sweet recipes, such as carrot cake and Christmas pudding.

How To Prepare
Carrots should be peeled, topped and tailed and washed before cutting into rounds, cubes or strips. Baby carrots need to be scrubbed, topped and tailed and washed before cooking whole.

How To Cook
Carrots can be boiled, baked, roasted or steamed. To boil carrots, bring a pan of water to the boil, add the chopped carrots or whole baby carrots and cook for 10 - 12 minutes, depending on size, until tender. To bake, preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5, place sliced carrots in an ovenproof dish with a knob of butter, 5 tbsp water and 1 tbsp clear honey, cover tightly with foil or a lid. Cook for 50 -55 minutes or until tender. To roast preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a roasting tin and heat in the oven, add sliced carrots, season well and roast for 45 - 55 minutes or until tender. To steam, place chopped carrots or whole baby carrots in a steamer and cook for 10 - 15 minutes or until tender.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
 

Chantenay CarrotsChantenay Carrots
Chantenay carrots have recently been revived in the UK, having not been available in this country since the 1960s. They are crisp, sweet and have a pronounced 'carroty' flavour.

How To Use
Chantenay carrots are extremely versatile and while they're delicious lightly boiled and served with butter and seasoning, there's no need to stop there!

Chantenay carrots can be eaten just as they are and are particularly popular with children because of their sweet crunchiness and small size. They can be served halved or whole as crudités with other vegetables and a dip.

How To Prepare
Simply wash Chantenay in cold water and they're ready to eat or cook with. No need to peel or top and tail.

How To Cook

Boiled
Cover whole Chantenay in boiling water and add a pinch of salt if you like. Simmer for five minutes or until they are just tender which you can test with the point of a sharp knife. Serve with melted butter, chopped parsley and season to taste

Steamed
Steaming is more gentle than boiling and allows the Chantenay to keep their colour, shape, flavour and texture. Place whole Chantenay in a steamer over a pan of simmering water and put the lid on. Steam for five minutes or until the carrots are tender. Try serving with toasted sesame seeds or pine nuts.

Microwaved
Place whole Chantenay in a microwaveable dish with a couple of tablespoons of water. Cover with cling film, pierce and microwave for five minutes or until they are just tender Roasted

Toss whole Chantenay in olive oil, sea salt and black pepper and herbs or spices to taste. Try cumin or chopped thyme and experiment to create your own favourites. Arrange the carrots in a single layer in a roasting tin and place in the oven at 190°C / 375°F for 20 to 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender, slightly browned and caramelised.

Baked
Wrap whole Chantenay in foil with a couple of tablespoons of wine, a knob of butter, a handful of fresh, chopped herbs and a pinch of salt, leaving them plenty of room to move. Put the parcel on a baking tray and bake for 40 minutes at 220°C / 425°F. Drain the liquid off and sprinkle with chopped parsley to serve.

Stir fried
Cut Chantenay lengthwise into halves or quarters and cut your other vegetables to similar sizes. Try spring onions, peppers and courgettes. Heat a small amount of oil in a wok over a high heat, add the vegetables and cook for a short time, stirring periodically, but not constantly. Add grated ginger, chopped garlic, chopped chilies and coriander to taste. Finish with a splash of soy sauce, a squeeze of lime and a drizzle of sesame oil.

Chargrilled
Slice Chantenay lengthwise into 5mm thick slices. Blanch briefly in boiling water (bring to the boil, simmer for a minute or so and plunge into cold water). Drain the carrot slices, toss in a little olive oil and seasoning and place on a hot, ridged griddle pan until they are marked on one side then turn and repeat.

In salad
Chantenay work well in salads either sliced or grated, and can be included either raw, roasted or blanched. Try a fresh dressing of lemon, olive oil and chopped shallots to contrast the sweetness of the Chantenay.

Chantenay juice
Naturally sweet Chantenay make delicious juice. Bear in mind that to make enough juice for one you will need around thirty Chantenay. Try juicing Chantenay with ginger and/or apple or orange to make a delicious and nutritious drink.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
 

CauliflowerCauliflower
A member of the brassica family, along with broccoli and cabbage, cauliflower was first eaten in Europe in the Thirteenth century and was originally from the Middle East. Cauliflower was originally known as coleflower, meaning cabbage flower. With its classic creamy white florets and delicate flavour it is an attractive and popular choice. As well as the familiar white variety, Romanesco cauliflowers are available. These are conical-shaped and pale green in colour. Baby cauliflowers can also be bought and are an ideal size for a single portion. Whatever variety you buy choose a cauliflower that has a clean, firm head with crisp-looking green outer leaves.

How To Use
Cauliflower can be eaten raw or cooked. Raw cauliflower can be served in salads or as a crudité for dips. It can be made into the ever-popular dish, cauliflower cheese or served simply as an accompanying vegetable. Cauliflower can be made into soup or included in curries, stocks, stir fries and chutneys. Along with green beans, marrow and cucumber it is the one of the classic ingredients in piccallili, a mixed summer vegetable preserve flavoured with mustard and turmeric which gives it a distinctive yellow colour.

How To Prepare
Cut away any outer leaves (these can be cooked like cabbage) and trim the base of the stem. Wash the cauliflower thoroughly in cold running water. If cooking whole either cut a cross in the base of the stem or remove a core from the stalk with a potato peeler this helps to ensure even cooking. Alternatively cut the head into even-sized florets and discard the main stalk which can then be used in stocks or soups.

How To Cook
Cauliflower can be boiled or steamed. To cook a whole cauliflower, place it stem down in a large pan of boiling water (add a squeeze of lemon juice to enhance the creamy white colour), cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the stalk is tender but still firm. Drain well. To cook florets, bring a pan of water to the boil and cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Alternatively steam florets for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain the florets well before serving and season with black pepper.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
 

CeleriacCeleriac
With the flavour of celery and the appearance of a rough, creamy brown turnip, celeriac is a root vegetable. It has a dense texture similar to turnip or potato when cooked and is also known as turnip-rooted celery or knob celery. Buy small to medium firm bulbs that feel heavy for their size, larger bulbs are likely to be woody. If possible choose ones that have a smoother outside to avoid excess wastage when peeling.

How To Use
Celeriac can be served blanched for salads or cooked. The classic French salad remoulade consists of blanched matchsticks of celeriac dressed with mayonnaise. It can be mashed with other root vegetables such as potatoes, turnips or parsnips or served as a purée flavoured with black pepper and garlic. Celeriac goes particularly well with beef and game dishes and is a flavoursome addition to hearty winter stews with beef or venison or chunky vegetable soups such as celeriac and blue cheese.

How To Prepare
Peel the celeriac and cut into even-sized chunks if cooking or matchsticks if using in salads. To prevent discolouration, place the pieces into a bowl of water, with a squeeze of lemon juice added.

How To Cook
Celeriac can be blanched, boiled or steamed. To blanch celeriac matchsticks for salads (this helps remove a slightly bitter taste), bring a pan of water with a squeeze of lemon juice added to the boil, drain the prepared celeriac and add to the pan. As soon as the water returns to the boil, pour the celeriac into a colander in the sink and rinse under cold running water until well chilled. Pat dry before using. To boil, bring a pan of water with a squeeze of lemon juice added to the boil, drain the prepared celeriac and add to the pan, boil for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. To steam, place the prepared celeriac in a steamer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Serve celeriac chunks whole, topped with butter and black pepper or mash, or purée.

How To Store
Keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

 
 

CeleryCelery
A versatile vegetable that is widely used in a variety of recipes. It adds a fresh flavour as well as a distinctive crunchy texture to both cooked dishes and salads. Celery was first introduced to the UK in the 17th century from Italy where the Romans used to wear it as a protection against hangovers! When buying celery look for regular shaped stalks that are not broken or bruised, it should look moist and crisp and be tight and compact. The darker the celery, (it can range from white to darkish green) the stronger its flavour. Over-large heads of celery tend to be stringy and are best avoided.

How To Use
Celery can be eaten raw or cooked. It can be included in a variety of salads including Waldorf salad where it is combined with chopped, unpeeled red-skinned apples and walnuts and dressed with mayonnaise. Serve pieces of celery with sliced peppers and carrot and cucumber chunks as crudité for savoury dips. Serve the best inner stalks to accompany a cheeseboard, with bread or biscuits and a small dish of sea salt for dipping. Celery can be sautéed or served au gratin as a vegetable side dish. It adds flavour and texture to soups, stocks, casseroles and risottos.

How To Prepare
Remove any damaged or bruised outer stalks (these can be used for stock or soup) and trim off the leaves. Separate the stalks, trim off the ends and pull off any strings. Scrub well and rinse under cold running water to remove any traces of soil or grit. Slice into even-sized pieces for cooking and bite-sized pieces for salads.

How To Cook
Celery can be pan-fried or served au gratin. To pan-fry celery, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan, add the chopped celery and season well, cook stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes or until it is tender but crisp. To cook celery au gratin, preheat the oven to 190C, gas mark 5. Fry the celery as above, transfer to an ovenproof dish and cover with cheese sauce, top with grated Cheddar cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

How To Store
Keep in its plastic sleeve (if provided) in the fridge for up to 1 week.

 
 

ChardChard
It is often said that with chard you get two vegetables in one. The stalks are like a sweeter, less astringent version of celery. The leaves are not unlike spinach, although they hold their shape better when cooked.

How To Use
Mix in salads and pasta dishes, steam as a side dish with cracked black pepper and butter, or stir fry with soy sauce or garlic and olive oil.

How To Prepare
Wash thorougly, rinse and serve raw or wash before cooking.

How To Cook
For best boiled mixed chard, place in a heavy pan with a little water, cover and cook gently for 4 minutes until tender.

Steaming is one of the best ways to preserve nutrients & minerals, place in steamer and steam for 3 - 4 minutes until tender.

How To Store
Refrigerated, use a day or two after purchase as does not have a long shelf life

 
 

ChivesChives
Chives are the smallest and most delicate member of the onion family. With a bright green colour they are the perfect accompaniment to a number of meals, and are excellent as a garnish.

How To Use
Chives are at their best in mild, creamy sauces and egg dishes, or as a garnish for soups and salads. They can also add flavour to cheese sandwiches, and mashed or jacket potatoes.

How To Prepare
Chives are easy to prepare – simply wash before use and cut with scissors or a sharp knife.

How To Cook
To preserve their flavour, chives should be added to cooked dishes at the last moment.

How To Store
Refrigerate for freshness.

 
 

CorianderCoriander
Coriander, a relative of parsley, is indigenous to southern Europe and the Mediterranean. It was used in ancient Egypt for medicinal and culinary purposes and has been popular in Britain since Tudor times.

How To Use
Corainder leaves have a tangy, citrus flavour. They are excellent added to Mexican, Indian and Thai dishes. The flavour becomes more apparent once the leaves are added to cooked dishes.

How To Prepare
Wash before use. Coriander leaves can be used whole or chopped.

How To Cook
Add whole or chopped leaves to curries, stir fries, chillies and couscous prior to serving.

How To Store
Refrigerate for freshness.

 
 

CourgetteCourgette
A member of the squash family, the courgette or zucchini is a summer squash with tender flesh and seeds and soft edible skin. Courgettes range in size from about 6 cm to 15 cm, and baby courgettes have the sweeter flavour. As well as the familiar green type, attractive bright yellow courgettes are also available. When buying either type, look for small (larger courgettes tend to have tougher skins), firm courgettes with smooth unblemished skins and a bright colour. Courgette flowers can also be eaten they are a rich yellow colour and can be coated in batter and deep fried or they can be stuffed and steamed or baked.

How To Use
Courgettes can be eaten raw or cooked. Finely chopped or grated raw courgettes and carrot can be mixed together and drizzled with French dressing to make a classic simple salad. Sliced raw courgette can be added to a green salad. Courgettes can be fried in butter or steamed and served with lemon juice as a mouthwatering side dish. They can also be included in tarts, risottos, pasta sauces and vegetable bakes and are a main ingredient in the classic Mediterranean vegetable dish, ratatouille.

How To Prepare
Wash and top and tail courgettes. They do not need peeling. Slice or cut into even-sized chunks

How To Cook
Courgettes can be fried or steamed, the cooking time will depend on the thickness of the slices or size of the chunks. To fry courgettes, heat a little butter and olive oil in a frying pan and add the prepared courgettes, stir-fry for 5 - 6 minutes or until tender. Sprinkle with lemon juice and black pepper to serve. To steam courgettes, place the prepared courgettes in a steamer and cook for 5 - 8 minutes or until tender.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
 

DillDill
Dill is a native of Asia and is now grown across most of Europe. A member of the parsley family dill is closely related to fennel. It has a sweet, mild flavour and fresh, green colour.

How To Use
Dill can be used in white sauces added to grilled fish and is a popular garnish. It can also be used in omelettes, quiches and salads.

How To Prepare
Dill should be washed before use and finely chopped.

How To Cook
Sprinkle over fish with lemon juice prior to grilling or roasting, or add to white sauces before serving.

How To Store
Refrigerate for freshness.

 
 

FennelFennel
With its creamy white bulb, pale green stalks and feathery leaves fennel is a pretty vegetable that is packed full of flavour. It has a distinctive aniseed flavour that goes particularly well with fish or chicken dishes. All parts of the vegetable are edible the bulb and stalk can be sliced and eaten raw or cooked and the fine leaves can be used as a garnish. Mini fennel is also available and is ideal for cooking whole. Choose small, pale green or white unblemished bulbs as dark green bulbs tend to have a bitter flavour.

How To Use
Fennel can be eaten raw or cooked. Serve slices of raw fennel with French dressing or garlic mayonnaise for dipping or as part of a salad. It can be braised and served as a side dish or cooked in a tomato sauce and topped with cheese for a supper dish.

How To Prepare
Trim off the feathery leaves and reserve for garnish, trim off the root. Leave the bulb whole or quarter or thinly slice it. To prevent discolouration, place the pieces into a bowl of water with a squeeze of lemon juice added.

How To Cook
Fennel can be braised, sautéed or roasted. To braise, place whole fennel or slices in a pan of water or stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 - 40 minutes or until cooked. To sauté, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan, add sliced fennel and cook for 10 - 15 minutes or until just tender. To roast preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a roasting tin and heat in the oven, add sliced fennel, season well and roast for 45 - 55 minutes or until tender.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
 

GalangalGalangal
A close relation of root ginger, galangal is a popular flavouring ingredient in south east Asian recipes. It has a similar knobbly appearance and flavour to fresh ginger although it is more pungent and spicier. When buying choose a fresh-looking root with unblemished skin.

How To Use
Galangal can be included in curries and stir-fries where a spicy, ginger flavour is required. It is particularly popular in chicken and fish dishes and can be pounded with lemon grass, garlic and chilli to make curry paste.

How To Prepare
Galangal is prepared in the same way as root ginger, it needs to be peeled and then finely sliced, chopped or grated before cooking.

How To Cook
Galangal is usually stir-fried with other ingredients such as onion, garlic and chillies. To fry, heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.

How To Store
Keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

 
 

GarlicGarlic
A member of the onion and leek family, garlic is one of the most commonly used flavouring ingredients worldwide. With its distinctive flavour and aroma it is especially popular in Asian, Oriental and Mediterranean cuisines. Fresh garlic is harvested and dried to produce the bulbs that are available all year round. Garlic bulbs consist of several individual cloves, which are wrapped in fine papery skin. When buying garlic choose plump succulent bulbs with unblemished skin. Avoid any bulbs that are sprouting.

How To Use
Garlic can be eaten raw or cooked. Raw garlic adds a kick to salad dressings, salsas, dips and spreads. Use raw garlic to make garlic butter to top cooked meat or fish or to spread on bread to make garlic bread. Garlic adds a wonderful flavour to a vast number of savoury dishes from curries, stir-fries and pasta sauces to soups and casseroles. Garlic can also be roasted and served as an accompaniment or garnish for savoury dishes.

How To Prepare
Divide the bulb into individual cloves and remove the papery skin, if required. Use the cloves whole or finely chop with a knife, crush in a garlic press or using a pestle and mortar. To prepare whole garlic bulbs for roasting, simply brush with olive oil.

How To Cook
Garlic can be fried or roasted. To fry garlic, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and add the garlic, cook over a gentle heat and don't allow the garlic to brown or it will take on a bitter flavour. To roast garlic, preheat the oven to 170°C, gas mark 3 and cook for about 45 minutes or until tender. Slice the bulbs in half and use to garnish soups or grilled or roasted meat or fish.

How To Store
Keep in a cool, dry place.

 
 

GingerGinger
Fresh ginger has a deliciously sweet and fragrant aroma and a fresh, citrus slightly spicy flavour. It has a distinctive knobbly appearance and is usually sold in pieces 6-15cm long, it is actually the root of the plant and is sometimes referred to as root ginger. Ginger has a pale brown skin and a light yellow-coloured fibrous flesh. It is thought to originate from south-east Asia or India, (and was one of the first eastern spices to be taken to the West Indies; by 1547 it was being exported from Jamaica to Spain) and is an essential ingredient in a wide variety of Asian cuisines, particularly Thai and Indian. Choose fresh-looking ginger with a smooth, unshrivelled skin and a firm texture. Buy in small quantities for a fresh flavour.

How To Use
Fresh root ginger is used in sweet and savoury dishes, although ground and preserved stem ginger are more often used in sweet recipes. It is a versatile ingredient and can be used in chicken, fish, seafood, meat, poultry and vegetable recipes. Root ginger is included in dishes such as curries, soups, pickles, sauces, noodle dishes and stir-fries.

How To Prepare
Peel fresh root ginger using a vegetable peeler or a small, sharp knife. Slice, chop or grate the peeled root, according to your recipe. To maintain freshness, peel small amounts of ginger just before using.

How To Cook
Fresh root ginger is often cooked in oil with onions, garlic and other aromatic ingredients such as lemon grass, chillies and spring onions, at the beginning of a recipe.

How To Store
Keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Unpeeled fresh ginger, wrapped in foil, can also be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months.

 
 

LeeksLeeks
A versatile vegetable, which is a member of the onion and garlic family. Leeks have a milder, sweeter flavour than onions, although they need to be cooked thoroughly to bring out the sweetness and to avoid an overpowering flavour. Small to medium leeks are the most tender (see Baby leeks). Choose leeks with firm white bulbs and bright green crisp leaves. Avoid leeks that have had the base of the root removed as they will deteriorate quickly.

How To Use
Leeks can be pan-fried, baked or braised and served as an accompanying vegetable. They can also be included in a wide variety of dishes including casseroles, soups, stuffings, omelettes, vegetable bakes, risottos, pies and quiches and pasta sauces.

How To Prepare
The layers between leeks can trap grit or soil so they should be thoroughly washed before use. Cut off the root and any of the green leaves that look tough. Slice and rinse thoroughly under cold running water.

How To Cook
Leeks can be pan-fried, baked or braised. To pan-fry, heat a little olive oil and butter in a frying pan, add the sliced leeks and cook gently for 5 - 10 minutes or until tender. To bake, preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5, place the prepared, sliced leeks in an ovenproof dish, cover with cheese or white sauce and bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until tender. To braise leeks, pour a little chicken or vegetable stock into a frying pan, add the sliced leeks, cover and cook gently for 10 - 15 minutes or until tender.

How To Store
Keep in the fridge, for up to 1 week.

 
 

Lemon Grass
Lemon grass has a delicate citrus flavour and is popular in Asian cooking.

How To Use
The stem should be finely chopped and added to stir frys for an Oriental taste.

How To Prepare
Finely chop the stem before adding to oriental dishes.

How To Cook
Lemon grass can be added to meat or vegetable and stir fries, as well as marinades, salads and soups.

How To Store
Refrigerate for freshness.

 
 

Mange ToutMange Tout
The fine and slender almost translucent pods of mange tout (from the French for 'eat all') contain very young tiny tender peas. The whole mange tout pod is eaten and they have a crisp texture with a flavour similar to peas. Look for bright green, crisp pods.

How To Use
Mange tout can be served raw or cooked. Include raw mange tout in salads or serve with a selection of mixed raw vegetables as crudité with dips. They can be served as a side dish or included in stir-fries.

How To Prepare
Mange tout need very little preparation, simply wash and top and tail if the ends are tough.

How To Cook
Mange tout can be steamed or stir-fried. To steam, place the prepared mange tout in a steamer and cook for 3 - 4 minutes or until just tender. Do not overcook or they will lose their flavour and crunchy texture. To stir fry, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan, add the mange tout and stir fry for 2 - 3 minutes or until just tender.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
 

Marrow
A member of the squash family, the marrow is a distinctive looking vegetable. Its edible shiny skin can be any shade of green and its flesh is tender with a subtle flavour. When buying marrow choose the smallest one that you can. Over-sized marrows tend to have watery, bitter-tasting flesh. It should be firm and heavy for its size.

How To Use
Marrow is served cooked. It can be baked in halves with the centre scooped out and stuffed with a filling such as sausagemeat and tomato or Bolognese sauce. It can be sliced into rounds and topped with cheese and baked. Or it can be cooked with onions, peppers and tomatoes to make a version of ratatouille. Serve steamed or fried marrow as a side dish to accompany chicken or fish dishes. Marrow can also be combined with ginger to make jam or included in the mixed summer vegetable preserve, piccalilli. Herbs and spices that go particularly well with marrow include sage, thyme, chilli and cumin.

How To Prepare
Top and tail the marrow and slice or cut into chunks as desired and remove the seeds.

How To Cook
Marrow can be baked, steamed or sautéed. To bake, preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5, place the halved, stuffed marrow or marrow rings with topping in a roasting tin and cook for 35 - 55 minutes or until tender. To steam, place prepared marrow chunks in a steamer and cook for 10 - 15 minutes or until tender. To sauté, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and cook the prepared marrow chunks for 5 -10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
 

Mint
There are many different varieties of mint, including spearmint, apple mint, and ginger mint. Mint was introduced into England by the Romans who grew it and pickled it in vinegar.

How To Use
Mint is frequently used when cooking new potatoes and fresh garden peas. It can also be used in jams, jellies and sauces, and as an accompaniment to meat, fish and vegetables. Most commonly in England it is used to make mint sauce, an accompaniment for lamb.

How To Prepare
Crushing the stalks releases flavour when cooking. Finely slice the leaves before adding to new potatoes or fresh peas.

How To Cook
Sprinkle finely chopped mint onto new potatoes or fresh peas, or stir into cooked couscous. To make mint sauce mix with vinegar or a little sugar.

How To Store
Refrigerate for freshness.

 
 

Mushroom - closed cupMushroom - closed cup
The most popular type of mushroom available, closed cup or button mushrooms have creamy white caps with pink gills which darken to beige as they grow.

How To Use
Closed cup mushrooms are served raw or cooked. Raw mushrooms can be included in salads. Cooked mushrooms can be included in a wide variety of dishes including omelettes, risottos, pasta sauces, quiches, soups and stews.

How To Prepare
All mushrooms should be washed and dried with kitchen towel before use. Leave the mushrooms whole or slice as necessary.

How To Cook
Closed cup mushrooms are best sautéed. Heat a little butter in a frying pan and fry for 4 – 5 minutes or add to dishes 5 – 10 minutes before the end of cooking time. They can also be stir-fried, grilled, roasted or poached in the microwave.

How To Store
Keep in a paper bag in the fridge for up to 3 days. Do not store them in a plastic bag because they will sweat and quickly spoil

 
 

Oyster mushroomOyster mushroom
With a subtle flavour and chewy texture, oyster mushrooms can be grey, yellow or pink in colour. They are so-called because of their distinctive fan-like shape.

How To Use
Oyster mushrooms make a tasty addition to mixed mushroom stir-fries, omelettes or pasta sauces.

How To Prepare
All mushrooms should be washed before used and dried with kitchen towel. Then trim the end of the stems. Oyster mushrooms can be cooked whole or cut into strips.

How To Cook
Oyster mushrooms can be fried or grilled. To fry, heat a little butter in a frying pan and cook over a high heat for 4 - 5 minutes. To grill, preheat the grill to high, brush the mushrooms with olive oil and cook for 5 - 10 minutes. They can also be stir-fried, roasted or poached in the microwave.

How To Store
Keep in a paper bag in the fridge for up to 3 days. Do not store them in a plastic bag because they will sweat and quickly spoil.

 
 

Chanterelle mushroomChanterelle mushroom
An apricot-coloured mushroom that has a very distinctive frilly trumpet shape. Chanterelles have a slightly rubbery texture with a subtle fruity flavour.

How To Use
Chanterelles are served cooked. Add to mixed mushroom sauces, risottos or pasta dishes. Include in soups, casseroles and stir-fries.

How To Prepare
Chanterelles need to be cleaned carefully as dirt gets stuck under the gills, so they need to be rinsed under running water and then dried on kitchen paper.

How To Cook
Chanterelles are best sautéed. Heat a little butter in a frying pan and gently cook the mushrooms for 5 - 7 minutes or until just cooked but still tender.

How To Store
Keep in a paper bag in the fridge for up to 3 days. Do not store them in a plastic bag because they will sweat and quickly spoil.

 
 

Cep mushroomCep mushroom
A meaty, creamy yellow mushroom with a spongy underside rather than gills. Ceps have a strong flavour and a velvety texture.

How To Use
Ceps are served cooked. Add to omelettes, fondues, mixed mushroom risottos, scrambled eggs or serve on toast as a light supper.

How To Prepare
Using a small, sharp knife, scrape the spongy underside away before cooking (it goes soggy) and wash.

How To Cook
Ceps can be stir-fried, grilled, roasted, poached in a microwave or fried. To fry, heat a little butter in a frying pan and cook over a high heat for 4 - 5 minutes. To grill, preheat the grill to high, brush the ceps with olive oil and cook for 5 - 10 minutes. Sprinkle cooked ceps with chopped garlic and fresh flat leaf parsley to serve.

How To Store
Keep in a paper bag in the fridge for up to 3 days. Do not store them in a plastic bag because they will sweat and quickly spoil.

 
 

Chestnut mushroomChestnut mushroom
Also known as brown cap mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms have a strong taste and look like a darker version of the button mushroom. They have pink to dark brown gills.

How To Use
Chestnut mushrooms are served raw or cooked. They are very versatile and can be included in salads, pasta dishes, sauces, quiches, casseroles, soups and omelettes.

How To Prepare
All mushrooms should be washed and dried with a kitchen towel before use. Leave the mushrooms whole or slice as necessary.

How To Cook
Chestnut mushrooms are best sautéed. Heat a little butter in a frying pan and fry for 4 – 5 minutes or add to dishes 5 – 10 minutes before the end of cooking time. You can also grill, stir-fry, roast or poach them in the microwave.

How To Store
Keep in a paper bag in the fridge for up to 3 days. Do not store them in a plastic bag because they will sweat and quickly spoil.

 
 

Shiitake mushroomShiitake mushroom
Originally from Japan and Korea shiitake mushrooms have firm caps and a light brown meaty flesh with a distinctive flavour. Look for plump mushrooms with curled under caps.

How To Use
Include in sauces and stocks or chop and add to stuffing for poultry, meat or fish.

How To Prepare
All mushrooms should be washed before use and dried with a kitchen towel. Remove the tough stems and slice, or leave the mushroom cap whole.

How To Cook
Shiitake mushrooms can be fried or grilled. To fry, heat a little butter in a frying pan and cook over a high heat for 4 - 5 minutes. To grill, preheat the grill to high, brush the mushrooms with olive oil and cook for 5 - 10 minutes. They can also be stir-fried, roasted or poached in the microwave.

How To Store
Keep in a paper bag in the fridge for up to 3 days. Do not store them in a plastic bag because they will sweat and quickly spoil.

 
 

Mustard CressMustard Cress
Cress plants have a pungent or peppery leaves Mustard cress is a mixture of the seedlings of mustard and garden cress. It is a native of Western Asia but is used mainly in Europe and North America.

How To Use
Cress is commonly used in salads but can also be used in egg sandwiches

How To Prepare
Wash cress before use and finely chop.

How To Cook
Add to salads and sandwiches.

How To Store
Refrigerate for freshness.

 
 

OkraOkra
Originally from Africa and also very popular in Indian, Caribbean and Middle Eastern cookery, okra are also known as 'ladies' fingers'. They are narrow green-skinned ribbed pods that contain rows of edible creamy seeds that ooze a viscous liquid when cooked. They have a mild-bean like flavour when cooked. Look for firm, small green pods (a brownish tinge indicates they are stale) no longer than 8 cm and avoid any that appear shrivelled or feel soft when gently squeezed.

How To Use
Okra is served cooked. It is included in a variety of savoury dishes including curries, vegetable stews and soups where the viscous liquid acts as a natural thickener. Okra is an essential ingredient in gumbo a hearty, spicy chicken and prawn stew from New Orleans.

How To Prepare
Top and tail the pods and if the skin appears to be damaged in any way, scrape it with a small, sharp knife. Leave whole or slice.

How To Cook
Okra can be boiled or fried but is best cooked with other ingredients. To boil, bring a pan of water to the boil, add the prepared okra and cook for 4 - 6 minutes or until tender. To fry, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the prepared okra for 5 - 10 minutes or until tender. For added flavour fry the okra with garlic and onion, cumin and turmeric.

How To Store
Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

 
 

ShallotsOnion - Shallots
These onions have a mild, delicate flavour. They grow in a similar way to garlic and when peeled will divide into two or more cloves.

How To Use
They are often included whole in stews and casserole. Shallots can be used in recipes where just a small amount of onion is need or where only a subtle onion flavour is required.

How To Prepare
Top and tail shallots and then peel the outer skin away. If there are several bulbs, pull them apart and leave whole or slice or chop finely.

How To Cook
Shallots can be fried or added to stews and casseroles. To fry, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan, add the chopped shallot and cook for 5 - 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender.

How To Store
Keep in a cool, dry place for one to two weeks.

 
 

Spring OnionOnion - Spring Onion
With their mild and delicate flavour spring onions, also known as salad onions or scallions, are small, immature onions that have been picked before the bulb has swollen. They have a narrow white bulb and a tender green shoot which is also used in cooking and provides a subtle onion flavour. Look for spring onions with bright, lively looking leaves and firm, clean white bulbs.

How To Use
Spring onions are served raw and cooked. Raw spring onions are added to salads, sandwich fillings and baked potato toppings. Spring onions are a popular ingredient in Thai, Chinese and Japanese cooking and are also often included in quiches, pies, stir-fries and soups. The green shoots are sometimes finely chopped and used as a garnish.

How To Prepare
Trim off the roots from the bulb, remove any tough outer leaves and wash thoroughly. Leave whole or slice vertically or horizontally into even-sized pieces.

How To Cook
Spring onions can be stir-fried. To stir-fry, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan or wok, add the prepared sliced onions and stir-fry for 5 - 7 minutes until just tender.

How To Store
Spring onions should be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

 
 

Mild and sweet (Spanish) onion
Amongst the largest types available these onions have a rich golden coloured skin. They tend to have a particularly sweet, mild flavour. Choose firm, blemish-free onions and avoid any that have green shoots.

How To Use
Mild and sweet onions are often served raw in salads and are especially good with tomatoes, but can also be included in dishes where a mild onion flavour is required, such as stir fries, stews, salsas, omelettes, risottos or stuffings.

How To Prepare
Cut a thin slice from the top of the onion. Peel the skin away and remove any soft outer layers. Hold the onion by the root and slice or cut in half and chop into even-sized pieces.

How To Cook
Onions can be fried or steamed. To fry, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan, add the prepared onion and cook for 5 - 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender. To steam, place whole, peeled onions or sliced onions in a steamer. Cook whole onions for 40 - 50 minutes and sliced onions for 15 - 20 minutes.

How To Store
Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month.

 
 

Brown onionBrown onion
This is the most widely used onion. With its a pungent aroma and strong flavour it is a good all-round onion. Choose firm, blemish-free onions and avoid any that have green shoots.

How To Use
Brown onions are usually served cooked and are used in a wide range of dishes where a distinctive onion flavour is required including casseroles, liver and onions, sauces, gravies, soups, pies, pizzas and curries.

How To Prepare
Cut a thin slice from the top of the onion. Peel the skin away and remove any soft outer layers. Hold the onion by the root and slice or cut in half and chop into even-sized pieces.

How To Cook
Onions can be fried or steamed. To fry, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan, add the prepared onion and cook for 5 - 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender. To steam, place whole, peeled onions or sliced onions in a steamer. Cook whole onions for 40 - 50 minutes and sliced onions for 15 - 20 minutes.

How To Store
Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month.

 
 

Red onionRed onion
A sweet and juicy, mild to strong flavoured onion with an attractive dark red-purple flesh, which is flecked with white lines. Choose firm onions with an evenly-coloured skin, avoid those with any signs of softness or green shoots.

How To Use
Red onions are ideal for including raw in salads or in cooked dishes where a sweet onion flavour is required such as salsa, stuffed onions, chicken or fish dishes or mixed vegetable stews. They can also be used as a garnish or included in homemade chutneys to serve with cold meats and cheese.

How To Prepare
Cut a thin slice from the top of the onion. Peel the skin away and remove any soft outer layers. Hold the onion by the root and slice or cut in half and chop into even-sized pieces.

How To Cook
Onions can be fried, roasted or steamed. To fry, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan, add the prepared onion and cook for 5 -10 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender. To roast preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a roasting tin and heat in the oven, add the unpeeled onions, season well and roast for 45 - 55 minutes or until tender. To steam, place whole, peeled onions or sliced onions in a steamer. Cook whole onions for 40 - 50 minutes and sliced onions for 15 - 20 minutes.

How To Store
Keep in a cool, dry place for 1 to 2 weeks.

 
 

Pak ChoiPak Choi
These leafy greens are a popular Chinese vegetable that are similar to bok choi and spring greens. Pak choi has pretty paddle-shaped dark green crisp and crunchy leaves with a thick creamy stalk and a mild flavour. Choose fresh-looking pak choi with bright green, tender leaves, avoid any that is yellowed or wilting.

How To Use
Pak choi is served cooked and both the leaves and stalk can be eaten. It can be served as an accompanying vegetable or included in vegetable, meat or fish stir-fries.

How To Prepare
Wash thoroughly and trim the stalk and slice it into slightly smaller pieces. If stir-frying pak choi trim the leaves into even-sized pieces.

How To Cook
Pak choi can be steamed or stir-fried. To steam, place the prepared leaves and stalks in a steamer and cook for 2-3 minutes or until just tender. To stir-fry, heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan or wok and cook over a high heat for 2 minutes, stirring often. For added flavour, steam or fry pak choi with fresh ginger and soy sauce.

How To Store
Keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

 
 

ParsleyParsley
Parsley is the most commonly used herb in European and American cooking. It has Mediterranean origins and is related to celery. There are two main types of parsley, flat leaf and curly.

How To Use
Parsley is often used as a garnish rather than a cooking ingredient. Flat leaf parsley is often used with fish, both as a white sauce or as a topping with breadcrumbs, and is also one of the ingredients of the Middle Eastern dish Taboulleh. Curly parsley has a more decorative appearance and is most often used as a garnish.

How To Prepare
Wash before use. Finely chop flat leaf parsley before adding to dishes. Curly leaf parsley can be cut or used whole.

How To Cook
Stir flat leaf parsley into white sauce before serving, or mix with butter and stir into cooked potatoes and vegetables. To ensure it keeps its taste, always add parsley to dishes towards the end of cooking. Parlsey is also used in a bouquet garni for salads, soups and stews.

How To Store
Refrigerate for freshness.

 
 

ParsnipsParsnips
A popular root vegetable, creamy white parsnips have a sweet, nutty and earthy flavour. Before the introduction of potatoes from South America, roast parsnips were the traditional accompaniment to roast beef. In the past they were included in sweet dishes such as cakes and jams before sugar was widely available. When buying look for small to medium parsnips with a fresh creamy white appearance. Baby parsnips are also available.

How To Use
Parsnips are served cooked. They can be boiled or roasted and served as an accompanying vegetable or included in stews, soups, mixed root vegetable purées or vegetable bakes.

How To Prepare
Wash and top and tail parsnips and peel thinly. Larger parsnips may have a woody core which should be removed. Leave small parsnips whole or cut into chunks.

How To Cook
Parsnips can be boiled or roasted. To boil, bring a pan of water to the boil and add the prepared parsnips. Cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until tender, serve with butter and black pepper or mash with butter and milk. To roast, heat 4 tbsp olive oil in a roasting tin at 200°C, gas mark 6, add the prepared parsnips and season well, cook for 45 - 55 minutes or until golden and tender.

How To Store
Keep parsnips in the fridge for up to 1 week.

 
 

PeasPeas
Frozen peas are convenient and one of the most popular vegetables, but the flavour of fresh peas really is superior. They have a sweet taste, crisp texture and vivid bright green colour. When buying fresh peas in the pod, 1 kg of pods will give 350-450g of peas. Choose bright green, firm, young pods with a little air-space left between the individual peas. Avoid discoloured or wrinkled pods, overfull pods may contain hard, tough peas so avoid these too. Peas should be eaten as fresh as possible for the very best flavour.

How To Use
Peas can be eaten raw or cooked. Fresh peas can be included in salads or used as a garnish for dishes containing cooked peas eg soups or pasta sauces. Cooked peas can be served simply with butter as an accompaniment to fish or chicken dishes or included in soups, purées or sauces.

How To Prepare
Shell the peas by pressing your thumb and forefinger into the top of the pod and push the peas out with your thumb. Discard any that are discoloured or blemished. Wash in cold water and use as soon as possible.

How To Cook
Peas can be boiled or steamed. To boil, bring a pan of water to the boil, add the peas and cook for 2 - 3 minutes, until just cooked. To steam, place in a steamer and cook for 3 -5 minutes. Serve with butter and chopped fresh herbs such as basil, chives or mint.

How To Store
Keep fresh peas in the pod, and keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
 

Sugar Snap PeasSugar Snap Peas
These are small, rounded pods, containing tiny peas. They are similar to mange tout, and the whole pod is eaten, but they are plumper. Sugar snaps have a fresh, sweet flavour and a crunchy texture. Look for bright green, crisp pods, which are full of peas but not bursting at the seams.

How To Use
Sugar snap peas are served raw or cooked. Raw sugar snap peas can be added to salads. Sugar snap peas can be served simply as a vegetable accompaniment or included in stir-fries, sauces, risottos or soups.

How To Prepare
Sugar snap peas need very little preparation, simply wash and top and tail if the ends are tough.

How To Cook
Sugar snap peas can be steamed or stir-fried. To steam, place the prepared peas in a steamer and cook for 3 - 4 minutes or until just tender. Do not overcook or they will lose their flavour and crunchy texture. To stir fry, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan, add the peas and stir fry for 2 - 3 minutes or until just tender.

How To Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.

 
  Chilli PepperChilli Pepper
With their attractive brightly coloured, smooth, shiny skins, chillies range from mildly hot to scorchingly fiery. Red and green chillies are widely available although yellow and orange varieties can also be bought. They come in a range of different varieties and shapes, ranging from long and slender to round and bulbous. Popular as an everyday ingredient in a variety of cuisines, including Thai, Indian, Mexican and Chinese, chillies can add just a subtle flavour or a real kick to a wide selection of savoury dishes. As a general rule the smaller the chilli the hotter it is but the colour is no guide to heat. The heat of the chilli comes from capsaicin, a type of oil, which is concentrated in the seeds and the white pith that surrounds the seeds, although it is present in the flesh too. When buying, choose firm chillies with a shiny unblemished skin.
Varieties of chillies widely available include:

Habanero
The hottest of all chillies, habaneros are squat, box shaped-chillies from Mexico. Similar to Scotch bonnet chillies, they can be green, orange, yellow or red, and are especially suitable for Caribbean cuisine.

Bird's Eye
Bird's eye chillies are small, long, thin red or green chillies. They are particularly popular in Chinese, Thai and Indian dishes. They are very hot and add a distinctive flavour to recipes such as curries, sauces and rice dishes.

Fresno
A medium hot chilli, tapered in shape and green or red in colour. A good general purpose chilli, useful in Mexican cooking.

Jalapeno
These relatively mild chillies are green and plump. They are popular in relishes, dips and salsas and often used on pizzas.

How To Use
Chillies can be served raw or cooked. Raw chillies are added to dips, salsas, salads and they can also be used as a garnish. Chillies are included in a vast number of dishes including curries, stir-fries, sauces, soups, stews, pies, pizzas, risottos, vegetable dishes and in meat or vegetarian chilli.

How To Prepare
If you prefer a milder taste remove the seeds and pith before cooking: slice the chilli in half vertically and using a small, sharp knife scrape out the pith and seeds, chop into small pieces. Wash your hands well after cutting chillies to avoid rubbing any of the fiery oil into your eyes. If you prefer a hotter flavour, simply wash and slice the chilli into rings.

How To Cook
Chillies are usually fried in oil, sometimes with garlic and onions at the beginning of a recipe. To fry, heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan and stir-fry for 2 - 3 minutes.

How To Store
Keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.

 
 

PeppersPeppers
Brightly coloured and sweet flavoured, peppers (also known as bell peppers) are a versatile vegetable that are eaten both raw and cooked and are used in many different cuisines including Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Spanish, Italian and French. A choice of different colours are available all peppers are originally green, and as they ripen and sweeten they turn red, orange or yellow. Peppers are sometimes skinned before using this can help to enhance their sweet flavour. When buying look for firm textured, bright and shiny peppers, and bear in mind that orange, red and yellow varieties have a sweeter flavour than green peppers. Avoid bruised, wrinkled or blemished peppers as they will be past their best.

How To Use

Peppers add a delicious crunch and a splash of colour to a variety of dishes. Raw peppers are a popular ingredient in salads and dips. They can also be added to quiches, pizzas, pasta sauces, stir-fries, paella, pies, casseroles and vegetable dishes such as ratatouille. Peppers can also be stuffed with a savoury filling such as a minced meat mixture or vegetarian risotto, baked and served hot or filled with pâté or a soft cheese mixture and served cold.

How To Prepare

To chop peppers, cut in half and remove the seeds and bitter white pith, wash and dry then cut into slices or chunks. To prepare peppers for stuffing, slice off the top with the stalk and using a small, sharp knife cut out all the white pith and scrape out all the seeds, rinse thoroughly with cold water and stuff as required. To skin peppers, slice them in half lengthways and remove the seeds and pith. Preheat a grill to high and place the pepper halves under the grill until the skin starts to blacken, place in a plastic bag for 5-10 minutes and the skin should peel off easily.

How To Cook

Peppers can be fried or steamed. To fry, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and add prepared pepper chunks or slices, fry for 5-8 minutes until the pepper is just starting to soften. To steam whole peppers, place in a steamer for 12-15 minutes or until tender, use sliced in salads, sauces or casseroles.

How To Store

Keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

 
 

RosemaryRosemary
Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean reaches but also grows in southern England, where it was introduced by the Romans. It has a distinctive aroma and can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes.

How To Use
Rosemary is often used as flavouring for lamb and other roast meats, and is also excellent with roast potatoes.

How To Prepare
Finely chop rosemary before adding to dishes or use whole as a garnish.

How To Cook
Sprinkle rosemary onto lamb, pork, potatoes or parsnips before roasting. Rosemary can also be added to tomato or red wine sauces.

How To Store
Refrigerate for freshness.

 
 

SageSage
Sage is a native of the Mediterranean and has many culinary varieties. It is used regularly in Britain and has a strong, slightly bitter flavour.

How To Use
Sage has a robust flavour that is excellent as an accompaniment to pork. It is commonly used in stuffing or in sausages, and can also be sprinkled onto salads.

How To Prepare
Sage should be washed before use and finely chopped.

How To Cook
Sprinkle sage onto pork or chicken before roasting, or combine with cheese and breadcrumbs for a topping for fish

How To Store
Refrigerate for freshness.

 
 

SpinachSpinach
With its unique flavour and bright green colour, spinach is a popular, easy-to-prepare and simple-to-cook vegetable. It is especially popular in Italy where Florentine dishes have a high spinach content. It wilts quite quickly so when buying look for crisp, dark green leaves with firm, hard stalks. Avoid spinach that has yellow patches or looks limp. When choosing, buy plenty as it reduces on cooking 225g spinach is sufficient for one serving.

How To Use
Spinach can be eaten raw or cooked. Baby spinach is the best choice to serve raw and can be included in salads serve simply with black pepper and lemon juice. Spinach can be served as a side dish with black pepper and butter or added to soups, sauces, stuffings, vegetable bakes, risottos and curries.

How To Prepare
Remove any tough stalks from the leaves and rinse thoroughly several times in cold water to remove any grit.

How To Cook
Spinach can be steamed or stir-fried. Place the spinach in a pan and cook it gently for 2-4 minutes, with just the water clinging to the leaves after washing, or until it just starts to wilt. To stir-fry, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and add the spinach, stir-fry for 2-3 minutes or until just starting to wilt.Baby leaf spinach is best eaten raw.

How To Store
Keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.

 
 

Baby SpinachBaby Spinach
With its unique flavour and bright green colour, spinach is a popular, easy-to-prepare and simple-to-cook vegetable. It is especially popular in Italy where Florentine dishes have a high spinach content. It wilts quite quickly so when buying look for crisp, dark green leaves with firm, hard stalks. Avoid spinach that has yellow patches or looks limp. When choosing, buy plenty as it reduces on cooking 225g teen spinach is sufficient for one serving.

How To Use
Spinach can be eaten raw or cooked. Spinach can be served as a side dish with black pepper and butter or added to soups, sauces, stuffings, vegetable bakes, risottos and curries.

How To Prepare
Remove any tough stalks from the leaves and rinse thoroughly several times in cold water to remove any grit.

How To Cook
Spinach can be steamed or stir-fried. Place the spinach in a pan and cook it gently for 2-4 minutes, with just the water clinging to the leaves after washing, or until it just starts to wilt. To stir-fry, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and add the spinach, stir-fry for 2-3 minutes or until just starting to wilt.

How To Store
Keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.

 
 

Brussel SproutsBrussel Sprouts
A member of the same family as cabbage, Brussels sprouts were developed from wild cabbage and are thought to have originated near Brussels in Belgium in the 13th century. Often associated with Christmas dinner, they are a versatile winter vegetable. They have a distinctive flavour, which can be unpleasant if they are overcooked. Choose small, green sprouts for the best flavour and firm compact ones for a good texture.

How To Use
Brussels sprouts are served cooked. Serve as an accompanying vegetable to roast turkey or chicken or to game dishes. Toss in butter and sesame seeds or top with crispy bacon before serving or serve simply with ground black pepper.

How To Prepare
Wash thoroughly in cold water, trim off any damaged leaves and the stem. For larger sprouts, cut a cross in the base of each sprout with a small, sharp knife - this ensures the thick stem cooks at the same rate as the leaves.

How To Cook
Sprouts can be boiled or steamed. To boil, bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the sprouts and cook for 10 - 15 minutes or until tender. To steam, place in a steamer and cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until tender. Drain well before serving.

How To Store
Keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.

 
 

Acorn SquashAcorn Squash
A small, round, heavily ridged winter squash, which usually has a dark shiny green skin. Orange-skinned acorn squash can also be found but they are not so widely available. Acorn squash flesh is a distinctive bright orange colour and it has a deliciously rich, sweet chestnut flavour. Each squash is an ideal size for one person when stuffed and baked. Buy squash that feel heavy for their size and have hard, thick skin.

How To Use
Acorn squash can be baked whole and filled with a variety of tasty savoury fillings including cooked rice and chopped peppers, diced cooked chicken or ham in a cheese sauce or goat's cheese mixed with pine nuts and pesto. Cooked acorn squash can be included in soups, stews, pasta sauces and stuffings.

How To Prepare
To bake, wash thoroughly and prick with a fork. To cook chopped acorn squash, wash and peel, halve and scoop out the seeds and any fibrous pulp with a spoon, then chop into even-sized chunks.

How To Cook
Acorn squash are delicious baked. To bake, preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5, place the whole squash in an ovenproof dish and cook for 40 - 50 minutes or until tender. To stuff, slice off the top of the squash before cooking, scoop out the seeds and pulp and fill with your chosen filling, cook as before.

How To Store
Keep acorn squash in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month.

 
 

Butternut SquashButternut Squash
A large winter squash, about 15cm to 20 cm long, that is similar in shape to a rounded pear. Butternut squash has a pale brown-orange skin and a deep, orange flesh. The wonderfully moist flesh has a sweet, buttery flavour and a slightly fibrous firm texture.

How To Use
Butternut squash is served cooked. It can be included in soups and mixed roasted vegetable side dishes. Fresh sage goes particularly well in butternut squash recipes. Mashed butternut squash makes a tasty side dish to serve with grilled chicken, flavour the mash with a little ground nutmeg, cinnamon or cumin to help bring out the sweetness. Butternut squash can also be puréed to make baby food.

How To Prepare
For roasting a whole squash, pierce the flesh several times all over with a sharp knife and wash thoroughly. To roast squash halves, cut in half lengthways and remove the seeds. To boil, halve the squash and peel or cut off the skin using a small sharp knife, scoop out the seeds using a spoon and then cut the flesh into even-sized chunks.

How To Cook
Butternut squash can be roasted whole and the cooked flesh scooped out afterwards or it can be boiled. To roast, preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6, place the prepared squash in a roasting tin or wrap in foil and roast for 50 - 60 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool, then split in half, scoop out the seeds and discard and then scoop out the flesh and use as required. To boil, bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the prepared squash chunks and cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until tender.

How To Store
Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month.

 
 

PumpkinPumpkin
Most often associated with lanterns at Hallowe'en, pumpkins have a sweet, honey flavour and they are especially popular in North America. When choosing a pumpkin, it should have a smooth skin and be firm to the touch. Smaller pumpkins contain more flesh and are best for eating. Pumpkin is an excellent source of antioxidant beta-carotene, has useful amounts of vitamins B1, C and E. It is also a good source of the phytochemical lutein.

How To Use
Use in pies, soups and breads

How To Prepare
Peel and cut into large pieces and remove the seeds.

How To Cook
Cook in boiling water for 15 - 20 minutes or until tender

How To Store
Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month.

 
 

SwedeSwede
With its creamy-purple skin and rounded shape swede is a popular root vegetable. It has an attractive pale orange-yellow coloured flesh with a bittersweet, mustardy flavour. Swedes are the traditional accompaniment to haggis which is eaten in Scotland on Burns night where they are known as neeps. Over-sized swedes tend to be woody and tough so choose smaller swedes, with smooth skin if possible. Avoid any that have damaged or blemished skin.

How To Use
Swede is served cooked. Swede can be served mashed or boiled as a side dish or added to winter stews and casseroles. It can also be roasted in fat around a joint of meat.

How To Prepare
Scrub and peel swede thickly to remove any tough skin and roots. Wash and cut into even-sized chunks.

How To Cook
Swede can be boiled or steamed. To boil, bring a pan of water to the boil and add the chunks of swede, cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender. To steam, place the prepared chunks in a steamer and cook for 20-25 minutes. Serve the cooked swede chunks as pieces or mash with butter, black pepper and a little nutmeg or horseradish.

How To Store
Keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.

 
 

Sweet PotatoSweet Potato
Although not related to the ordinary potato, sweet potatoes can be prepared and served in the same way. They have a creamy flesh with a sweet flavour that is similar to squash or roasted chestnuts. There are two main types of sweet potato, red skinned with a white flesh and brown skinned with a bright orange flesh. Sweet potatoes are a staple food in the West Indies, Africa and Asia and are increasingly popular in Western cuisines. Choose firm sweet potatoes with undamaged skin.

How To Use
Sweet potato can be served roasted, mashed or baked as an accompanying vegetable or added to stews, soups, curries, pasta dishes or vegetable bakes. Mashed sweet potato makes a tasty alternative topping for shepherd's pie or fish pie.

How To Prepare
For boiling, peel and cut into even-sized chunks. For baking, scrub well and remove any fibrous roots.

How To Cook
Sweet potatoes can be boiled, baked, roasted or microwaved. To boil, bring a pan of water to the boil, add the prepared chunks of sweet potato and cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until tender.

To bake sweet potatoes, preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Prick the cleaned sweet potatoes several times with a fork and place in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their size, or until tender.

To roast sweet potatoes, preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Par-boil prepared potato chunks for 5 minutes in boiling salted water. Add 150 ml olive oil to a roasting tin and preheat in the oven for 5 minutes. Add the drained sweet potatoes to the tin and coat in the oil. Roast for 30 - 45 minutes, basting occasionally with the oil, until crunchy and golden brown.

Microwave sweet potatoes in the same way as potatoes; wash thoroughly then pierce the skins in several places and cook on FULL power for approximately 8 - 10 minutes for a large sweet potato, or according to the microwave oven manufacturer’s instructions. Serve with soured cream and black pepper.

How To Store
Sweet potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark, frost-free and dry place, but not in the fridge. Remove sweet potatoes from the plastic bag that they are usually sold in and transfer to a brown paper bag if possible.

 
 

Baby SweetcornBaby Sweetcorn
A tender, young version of sweetcorn that is especially popular in Oriental-style dishes. The whole cob can be eaten and it usually measures no more than 10 cm long. Choose firm cobs of corn with a pale yellow colour (they will be paler than full-size sweetcorn cobs).

How To Use
Baby corn can be eaten raw or cooked. Raw baby corn can be added to salads or served with a selection of raw vegetables as crudité with dips. Baby corn can be included in stir-fries with vegetables, pork, chicken or beef.

How To Prepare
Simply wash and trim the thicker ends. Baby corn can be cooked whole or cut into even-sized pieces for cooking.

How To Cook
Baby corn can be stir-fried or steamed. To stir-fry, heat 1 tbsp olive or sunflower oil in a frying pan or wok and cook for 3-4 minutes or until just cooked. To steam, place the prepared corn in a steamer and cook for 3-4 minutes or until just tender.

How To Store
Keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.

 
 

Corn-on-the-cobCorn-on-the-cob
Kernels of sweetcorn grow on cobs about 18 cm long and are surrounded by soft pale green leaves known as husks. With its distinctive bright yellow colour and sweet flavour, sweetcorn or corn-on-the-cob, can be served whole or the kernels can be removed. Choose medium-sized cobs with healthy-looking green husks wrapped tightly around them. When the husks are pulled away the kernels should be a pale yellowy white colour (this will brighten during cooking) and plump.

How To Use
Sweetcorn is served cooked. It can be cooked whole and served simply with butter as a tasty starter or snack. Sweetcorn kernels can be removed from the cob and served as a side dish or added to soups, risottos, soufflés, salads, quiches or sandwich fillings.

How To Prepare
Cut off the stalk and pull away the leaves and silky tassels, wash thoroughly. To remove the kernels, hold the cob upright and cut the kernels off the lower half of the cob with a small, sharp knife. Turn the cob around and cut off the remaining kernels in the same way. For grilling or barbecuing brush the whole prepared cobs with melted butter and wrap in foil or simply barbecue the cobs in their husks.

How To Cook
Sweetcorn can be boiled, grilled or barbecued. To cook whole cobs, bring a pan of water to the boil and cook for 8 - 12 minutes or until a kernel comes away easily. Drain well and serve with black pepper and butter. To cook kernels, bring a pan of water to the boil, add the kernels and cook for 5 - 10 minutes or until tender, drain and serve hot or cold. To grill or barbecue, preheat a grill to high or light a barbecue and start cooking once the coals are white hot. Cook for 12 - 15 minutes, turning occasionally until the corn is tender.

How To Store
Can be stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 days but is best eaten as soon as possible. Store with the husks wrapped around the corn.

 
 

TarragonTarragon
Tarragon was virtually unknown in Europe until the Arabs introduced it when they ruled Spain. It was introduced into England in the 16th century. Tarragon has a strong but subtle flavour and is used in many French dishes.

How To Use
Tarragon in small quantities can be used with tomatoes, fish, salads and meats, or in creamy or white wine sauces. It is also used in modern Indian cooking.

How To Prepare
Tarragon should be washed before use and finely chopped.

How To Cook
Stir tarragon into cream and white wine to make a quick sauce. Tarragon can also be sprinkled into salads and omelettes. It can also be used to flavour roast chicken.

How To Store
Refrigerate for freshness.

 
 

ThymeThyme
Thyme is native to the Mediterranean and has been widely cultivated. Varieties include lemon scented thyme, and wild or creeping thyme.

How To Use
Thyme is excellent in slow cooked dishes such as casseroles. Its versatility makes it ideal with a number of dishes including roasted vegetables.

How To Prepare
Thyme leaves should be removed from the stem and rinsed before adding to recipes.

How To Cook
Add thyme to casseroles, stews and hotpots for a warm, aromatic flavour. Sprinkle over root vegetables before roasting to intensify the flavours. Thyme leaves can also be stirred in to couscous or mixed into herby meatballs.

How To Store
Refrigerate for freshness.

 
 

TurnipsTurnips
Turnips have a subtle peppery flavour and a purple or green tinged creamy white skin. Baby turnips have particularly tender flesh with a sweetish, delicate flavour. Choose turnips that have smooth, unbruised skins and feel heavy for their size.

How To Use
Turnip can be served as an accompanying vegetable or included in stews. They can also be made into soup, mashed or puréed. Mini turnips are served raw or cooked. Grate raw mini turnips and include in salads or slice thinly and drizzle with French dressing or mayonnaise.

How To Prepare
Peel and wash turnips and cut into even-sized pieces. Mini turnips do not need peeling before cooking, simply wash and trim the tops if cooking whole. Alternatively, cut into even-sized pieces before cooking.

How To Cook
Turnip can be boiled or steamed. To boil or steam, cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until tender. Mini turnips can be boiled whole or chopped and steamed or roasted. To boil, bring a pan of water to the boil and cook whole mini turnips for 20 - 30 minutes or until tender. Coat in melted butter or cheese sauce to serve. To roast chopped turnip, preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Par-boil prepared turnip chunks for 5 minutes in boiling salted water. Add 150 ml olive oil to a roasting tin and preheat in the oven for 5 minutes. Add the drained turnip to the tin and coat in the oil. Roast for 30 - 45 minutes, basting occasionally with the oil, until crunchy and golden brown.

How To Store
Keep in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 week.

 
 

WatercressWatercress
A dark green leaf with a distinctive peppery, pungent flavour. Watercress can be used as a salad leaf instead of rocket or it can be included in recipes instead of spinach. Look for dark, green, fresh leaves and avoid any that are wilting or yellowing. Watercress is sold in bunches or ready-to-use in bags.

How To Use
Watercress can be served raw or cooked. Raw watercress can be included in green salads or used as a garnish. Watercress can be included in soups, soufflés, quiches and sauces and is often served with salmon.

How To Prepare
Trim off the ends of the stems of bunches of watercress and rinse thoroughly.

How To Cook
Watercress is usually added directly to recipes such as soups or sauces, it takes very little cooking so does not need to be pre-cooked.

How To Store
Keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.

 
 
 

The information and images for this article have come from www.thinkvegetables.co.uk. It provides full information on all the main vegetables available on the UK market including nutritional information and delicious recipes. The site is a service provided by Mack Vegetables, one of the largest and most successful suppliers of fresh vegetables in the UK, serving a wide range of customers from caterers to major multiples. You can find out more about Mack by visiting the website at www.mwmack.co.uk