My mum and dad have one of those backyards that once upon a time, had room for 3 growing boys to ride bikes, run and play cricket. Now that we’ve been gone for some time, our parents have rightly reclaimed their small suburban block.
Mum and Dad both love growing vegetables and herbs. This little bounty is what we came away with on the weekend. Chard, spinach, oregano, dill, mint. All the makings of some vegetarian goodness for Kid, me and the Doctor.Chard. It’s pretty much silverbeet and a member of the beetroot family. The storks come in a rainbow of colours and need to be trimmed away before cooking the leafy green part.
Enter our friend ricotta.
Ingredients – makes about a dozen small parcels
Chard – about a bunch. Or silverbeet or English spinach. Or both. Stemmed and chopped.
1 zucchini – 3-4mm slice
1 spanish onion – fine slice
4 cloves garlic – crushed
zest of 2 lemons
10 leaves of mint – sliced
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
1 tablespoon light olive oil
150 butter – clarified
1 pack of filo pastry – best defrosted in the fridge
2 teaspoons of nigella seeds for the top. Sesame or fennel will also do.
Start by sautéing the zucchini until just coloured. Add the oregano, season and remove from the pan. In a medium saucepan sweat the onions and garlic until they smell sweet. Throw in the greens and cook them quickly until just wilted. There’s more cooking ahead so go easy here. Add the zucchini. Chill.Crumble the ricotta in a bowl and add the lemon zest, a little salt and chopped mint. What Kid Did
Kid picked some mint then used my awesome micro-plane to lightly zest the lemons.
Once the vegetables had cooled Kid gave everything a good mixing, smooshing the ricotta, chard mix and aromats together ready for the next step.Rolling the filo parcels. Heat the oven to 180*c. Unroll your pastry and brush the top sheet with a thin layer of butter. Filo likes to stick together and make your life hell. Don’t let it. We are working with one sheet at a time here for our small rolls. If the pastry is clinging to itself, gently slide your finger between the sheets to separate. Place a heaped tablespoon of mixture in the centre of your filo sheet, about 1/3 of the way along. Fold the bottom edge over the filling. Brush the exposed pastry with butter (filo loves clarified butter, so during this process, whenever you have dry pastry, give it a light brush.) Tuck the pastry in towards the filling and fold away from yourself. Fold in the sides. Brush with butter. Roll firmly all the way to the end. Repeat until the mixture is all used. The pastry can be re-wrapped and refrigerated for a few days.Arrange the rolls on a lined baking tray. Brush the tops lightly with butter. Scatter your seeds on top. Bake for 25-30 mins, until golden all over. Gotta make sure those sides are tucked in well, otherwise you get a little spillage. Like we did…It’s no big deal.Serve with a crisp salad and if you like, the saffron yoghurt from this previous post As I’ve often said, anything tactile like pastry or dough is great for kids getting involved. I began by explaining the process to Kid, then demonstrating once, guiding her through her first go and then she was right to go solo.
Picking the vegetables from the garden and cooking them for dinner just a little while later is something I’d love to do more of with Kid. It’s about as ‘paddock to plate’ as you can get. Do you grow your own?
I daydream of having planter boxes filled with tomatoes and leafy greens and herbs in easy reach.
And one day, room permitting, we absolutely will.
‘If it’s the last thing we ever do.’