Three Awesome Ways to use Home Grown Beetroot

Confession alert – I’m a fairly useless gardener. I try very hard, spend hours tilling the soil and dreaming bold dreams of harvesting bountiful vegetables from my raised garden beds (made from 100% recycled materials) but the reality is that I’m really more of a ‘brown thumb’ than a green one. In the past 12 months I’ve tried (and failed) to grow potatoes, onions, carrots, watermelon and a multitude of other crops that are apparently bomb proof. My fennel failed to develop bulbs, my chillies wither on the bush and even the invincible basil has given up…

I’ve added various manures, regularly mixed in organic fertilisers and religiously watered in seaweed solution. Sadly, it’s all been to no avail.

So given the Killing Fields* that make up my veggie garden, you can imagine my delight when my beetroot plants actually grew to an edible size! Admittedly, they weren’t quite the bountiful harvest of baby beets that I was hoping for, but at least it made it to the table!

For something a little different this Meat Free Monday, why not try some of the below ways of using fresh beetroot?

Fresh Beetroot Leaves in a Salad
Use in the same way as spinach or lettuce. Just wash and dry thoroughly before using as the base of a salad. I like to throw in some cucumber, tomatoes, feta, and capsicum before dressing with some homemade salad dressing (lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, wholegrain mustard and honey).

Beetroot Stems in a Stir fry / Risotto or Satay
Last night we tried something different and added all the beetroot stems (cut to 2.5cm lengths) into a chicken satay. Not only did it reduce our waste and taste delicious, as an added bonus it turned our satay into a very delicate pink! Bonus!

Grated Baby Beets
Baby beets (the bulb part) are absolutely delicious and can be used raw in so many fabulous ways. My personal favourite is to grate finely and toss through a fresh salad, but they can also be used in frittatas, muffins, rice paper rolls and sandwiches!

So instead of reaching for tinned beetroot, why not have a shot at growing some? If I can do it, anyone can!

I’d love to hear some of your gardening disasters or recipes for fresh beetroot. Please share in the comments.

*I’m very sad to report that despite daily watering, shade protection and generous insulation even my worms have succumbed to the relentless heat, leaving me without an accelerated composting process. As a result, it’s been even more important for us to reduce our fruit and veggie waste.

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Vegetarian Lasagna (Gluten Free)

large__6466933063“Once again, my life has been saved by the miracle of lasagne.”  – Garfield

Lasagna, or lasagne? It doesn’t really matter, after all who doesn’t love a good one? There is something so enticing about the beautiful aromas that fill the kitchen coupled with the visual appeal of oozing cheesy white sauce. Yum…

We are big lasgana fans in our household (they are great for using up odds and ends and make delicious leftovers), however we had never before attempted a vegetarian version. As with all my Meat Free Monday recipes – feel free to use whatever vegetables you have, don’t go out of your way to buy something!

Ingredients
800g pumpkin (peeled and sliced into 1cm slices)
Dash of olive oil
1 medium eggplant (sliced)
2 medium zucchini (sliced lengthways)
1 red capsicum
1 onion (finely diced)
2 garlic cloves (finely diced)
100g spinach
200g button mushrooms (thinly sliced)
600g tomato puree
1tsp dried oregano
Handful of torn basil leaves
30g butter
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons plain gluten free flour
1 cup grated mozzarella (or cheddar if you don’t have mozzarella)
Dried GF Lasagna sheets (enough for 3 layers)
Salt and pepper to season

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180degrees (C). Line an oven tray with baking paper and spread out pumpkin. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20min or until tender. Set aside.
2. Slice cheeks off capsicum and place under a grill (skin side up) until skins are black and blistered. Set aside to cool before peeling off skin and slicing into thin strips.
3. Heat remaining olive oil in a heavy based frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, sautéing until lightly golden. Add in remaining vegetables and cook, stirring regularly until eggplant is tender. Stir in tomato puree and oregano and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and then simmer for 10-15minutes until thickened. Remove from heat.
4. To make a delicious gluten free white sauce, I’ve found that it is best to mix the flour with a little milk to make a paste BEFORE adding in to the melted butter. Something about gluten free flours means that if you do it the traditional way, lumps are inevitable! So – melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan before adding your milk / flour paste. Gradually add the remainder of the milk, continuously stirring to avoid lumps. Add in ¼ of the grated cheese and a little salt and pepper to taste.
5. Grease a baking dish (this makes washing up easier) before beginning your layers. Start with a small amount of the sauce and build the layers with lasagne sheets, the pumpkin, basil and spinach, remembering to throw in some strips of capsicum every now and again.
6. Once layers are complete, pour the white sauce over the top and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
7. Cover with alfoil and bake for approximately 40-50mins at 180degrees (C).
8. Remove alfoil 15 minutes before the end of cooking time to allow the cheese to become beautifully golden!

Notes
• Some gluten free flours behave differently to others. Adjust quantities for the white sauce accordingly.
• This makes a delicious dinner by itself, or you can easily make a fresh and zesty salad or some homemade rustic potato chips to accompany it.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/jabb/6466933063/”>JaBB</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

Basic Vegetarian Frittata

Home grown tomatoes. Aren't they beautiful?

Home grown tomatoes. Aren’t they beautiful?

A frittata is one of my favourite ways to use up whatever leftovers I have in the fridge, as well as being my go to meal when there is very little food left in the house.

Today Mother Hubbard’s cupboard is almost completely bare and as we are off to the city on Wednesday, I’m not replenishing it. As a result, I am using frozen mixed veggies to make today’s frittata.

As with most Meat Free Monday recipes, use whatever you have to hand. Cherry tomatoes (like those in the picture above) are delicious, as is spinach and ricotta, balsamic onions or some grated zucchini. You can tailor your herbs and spices to suit yourself, I like a little nutmeg and cinnamon but you may prefer Allspice. Experiment until you find something that works for you!

Ingredients
8 eggs (this easily feeds 4)
½ cup of milk
½ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup grated parmesan
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup of thinly sliced / grated vegetables
Salt and pepper to taste

Method
1. Pre-heat oven / barbeque to 180degrees (Celsius)
2. If possible use a flan pan for this dish (one with a removable base like you use for making tarts). Line it with baking paper.
3. Mix all ingredients together. Use a whisk to improve the fluffiness.
4. Pour ingredients into lined flan pan and place in the over for 30minutes or until lightly golden and firm to the touch.
It doesn’t get any easier than that!

Easy Vegetable Soup

Apologies that this post is coming out on a Tuesday. We did enjoy our usual Meat Free Monday yesterday but ran out of time to write up the recipe!

If you’re a meat eating household like mine, you probably don’t have tofu or other specialist vegetarian food sitting in your fridge most of the time. Much though I enjoy dabbling in vegetarian dishes, I’m not a fan of buying specialist ingredients which may in all likelihood end up as waste. The below recipe for a hearty vegetable soup is the ultimate meal for using up all sorts of leftover veggies, requires absolutely no specialist ingredients, is incredibly simple and can be tailored to suit whatever you have in your house.

Remember, this is about using up what you have. The vegetables listed are simply what I had left in the fridge.

We are a gluten free household, however if you have the luxury of eating gluten, this soup would go beautifully with some barley mixed in!

Ingredients
5 stalks of celery
3 carrots
4 potatoes (I used Royal Blue – but go with whatever you have)
1 onion (a leek would also work)
½ cup yellow lentils
Splash of peanut oil
700ml vegetable stock (chicken stock is a good substitute)
1 bay leaf
Salt & pepper to taste
Cream / Sour Cream (if you have some spare in the fridge)
Buttered toast to serve

Method
1. Peel potatoes.
2. Roughly chop all vegetables (you can either puree at the end or leave chunky. Do what works for you.)
3. Throw vegetables into a large, heavy based saucepan with a splash of peanut oil. Stir regularly.
4. Once vegetables are becoming fragrant and showing a little colour, pour in the stock and add the washed lentils.
5. Add in the bay leaf.
6. Simmer for 45-60mins until vegetables and lentils are cooked to your liking.
7. At this point you could add some yummy vermicelli noodles or simply puree the soup until thick and smooth.
8. Season to taste
9. Serve with warm, buttered toast and garnish with cream / sour cream if using.

See? A delicious, effortless vegetarian meal for an exhausting Monday…

Let me know what you think!

Coming up in 2014

2014 is almost upon us and I am so excited to be able to share it with you! It will be a big year for The Happy Rebel and a big year for our family with a cross country move planned and our second baby due in April.

The Happy Rebel will be becoming slightly more structured throughout 2014, with a couple of really exciting series planned. Check out the sneak peeks below…

12 Months to a Happiness Rebellion

The 12 Months to a Happiness Rebellion series will be published on the first Wednesday of every calendar month and will feature tips, tricks and challenges to help you to reclaim and sustain your happiness throughout the year.

Baby Steps to a Greener World

Baby Steps to a Greener World is your beginners guide for taking simple steps to reduce your environmental impact and adopt a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle. Baby Steps to a Greener World will be published on the second Wednesday of every calendar month and will have some great tips and tricks!

The Lost Art of Self Sufficiency

Do you rely on a mechanic to check the oil in your car, a tailor to take up your jeans and the bakery for special treats? If so, The Lost Art of Self Sufficiency series is for you!

The Lost Art of Self Sufficiency will be published on the third Wednesday of every calendar month and is the essential guide to basic self-sufficiency. Easy step by step guides on everything from automotive maintenance to baking cookies will help you recover skills that are fast being forgotten.

Make Your Own

The Make Your Own series will be published on the fourth Wednesday of every calendar month and will feature stacks of fun and easy home projects that will help save you money and amaze others with your ingenuity. Learn how to build your own raised garden bed from recycled materials, entertain your toddlers with easy home-made play dough and even create your own Advent Calendars. If you are completely non creative like me, you will love these easy step by step guides!

Meat Free Monday

I’m on a mission to reduce my meat consumption and improve my repertoire of vegetarian recipes and I’d love to share this journey with you! Every Monday, a delicious new vegetarian recipe will be posted after being thoroughly tried and tested by our meat loving household. If you regularly cook vegan or vegetarian meals, please feel free to point me in the direction of winning recipes…

So, as you can see, we have a really exciting year ahead with heaps of great strategies to make 2014 your greenest, happiest year ever.  Make sure that you add The Happy Rebel to your favourites and join us on Facebook to ensure that you don’t miss a moment!

Have a great 2014…