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Xmas veg secrets

Want to give your Christmas veg the edge? Here's tips and recipes from Riverford's chefs

Published on November 9th 2010.

Xmas veg secrets

Christmas goes hand in hand with British seasonal veg. But it’s easy to get fed up with soggy sprouts and flavourless carrots – so how do you make sure your veg is the star of the show on 25 December?

Organic vegbox company Riverford at Stockley Farm has trialled and tested to find the tastiest varieties to grow for Christmas this year. Without the artificial sprays that protect conventionally grown veg, their organic crops may never look perfect. But because they're grown slowly, they tend to taste better.

As well as vegetables, Riverford offers everything you’ll need for an organic farm Christmas – from turkeys and the trimmings to legendary mince pies and clotted cream. It's all delivered free to your door in plenty of time for Christmas – saving you from making the dreaded supermarket trawl in the festive season rush.

You can order your supplies online now if you're super-organised – just click here. And if you place two orders in November, you'll get a free Riverford Farm Cook Book worth £12.99

Below are some of Riverford's tips for cooking festive vegetables – this year it won’t just be roast potatoes that are in demand.

Brussels sprouts

Overcooked, waterlogged sprouts are about as unappealing as it gets. If you must cook them in water, avoid boiling and steam them as briefly as possible. Even better, Jane Baxter, head chef in Riverford's Field Kitchen restaurant, recommends stir frying them so they keep their crunch. Here's her recipe for spruced-up sprouts.

Wok-fried Brussels Sprouts with Ginger

Taken from the Riverford Farm Cook Book. Serves 4.

3 tbsp sunflower oil
2 shallots or 1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped
600g Brussels sprouts, finely shredded
4cm piece of fresh ginger, cut into very fine strips
4cm piece of crystallised stem ginger, cut into very fine stripssea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a wok, add the shallots or onion, plus the garlic and chilli, and fry quickly for about 2 minutes, without browning. Add the shredded sprouts and the fresh and crystallised ginger. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons of water, cover and steam for 3 minutes. Season to taste and serve.

Again, avoid boiling them – roast or cook with a little butter instead. Or make sweet honey-glazed carrots: Put chopped carrots in a pan with a knob of butter, a tablespoon of honey and a splash of water. Simmer until tender, add some drops of balsamic vinegar, a sprinkling of chopped parsley and serve.

Parsnips can be ready by September, but Riverford tend to wait until the first frosts to start harvesting them. Cold weather causes some of the starch in the root to convert to sugar and greatly improves the flavour.

For a new take on roasted parsnips, parboil, then roll them in a mixture of flour and parmesan. Season well and roast in the oven with the rest of your Christmas dinner.

The most flavoursome winter varieties will be in Riverford's boxes. If you want to please your fellow diners, it might be unwise to venture away from roast potatoes with your Christmas dinner. But you could try roasting them with lemon and garlic, to introduce some different flavours to the table.

Red cabbage
Braising brings out the sweet, earthy flavour of red cabbage and is a very easy way of cooking it. Fill a pan with a finely shredded red cabbage, two chopped dessert apples, a chopped Onion, 50g butter and a tablespoon and a half of dark soft brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. Season well and simmer over a low heat for two hours until rich and flavoursome.

To order your organic Christmas food and get a free Riverford Farm Cook Book, just click here.

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