Nothing beats cooking with real, fresh, in-season organic produce and spring is a great time of the year as so many great vegies, herbs and fruits are ready to be harvested from your home garden.
All throughout September is Australian Organic Awareness Month, which highlights the best produce, products and certified producers the nation’s burgeoning organic industry has to offer. As one of this year’s ambassadors, I’m proud to say that I love cooking (and eating!) organic produce and always look for the Bud logo on products to make sure I’m getting a truly organic product at the supermarket.
I’m also a keen organic home gardener and love to eat what I reap free of pesticides and other nasty chemicals! Here are my top five in-season springtime produce picks.
1. Blueberries and strawberries are definitely my number one. They scream freshness with their bright, vibrant colours and burst with flavour when in season. They’re also a fantastic low-carb, low-fructose fruits packed with antioxidants and vitamins.
2. Brussels sprouts have totally become on-trend in the past few years. Gone are the days when they were the scary, stinky vegetable grandma used to boil! Top restaurants are now showcasing how good these high-fibre beauties can be. Nothing beats slicing them thinly and pan frying in some duck-fat or ghee until golden brown and crispy, topped with a pinch of salt and fresh chopped chilli.
3. Chillis are a game-changer and in spring, they’re bursting with vibrance, heat and flavour. Chillis help fight inflammation and vary in colours, shapes and sizes which reflect the level of heat. I add finely chopped chilli to curries, sauces and dressings. It's a wonderful way to add depth.
4. Lemons and limes are a kitchen must! They’re so versatile, and when celebrated in their ideal growing conditions, are zesty and juicy. They form what I describe as ‘acid’ in the diet, and can promote good digestion, pack a boost of vitamin C and add amazing flavour. Use lemons for the perfect roast chook stuffing, squeeze fresh lime juice over tacos, or utilise one or both of them in an easy salad dressing incorporating citrus juice, zest, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper.
5. Cauliflower makes my number five, and I’ve saved the best till last! Let’s be honest, is there anything cauliflower can’t do? This low-carb vegetable, which is high in B vitamins, can be turned into pizza bases, “rice” and even bread! Most nights I chop cauliflower into small florets, douse with coconut oil and roast until golden brown and crispy.
Luke Hines' Organic Stuffed Mushrooms
Stuffed mushrooms are one of the easiest yet most delicious meals you can put together says Australian Organic ambassador Luke Hines. “This recipe is a celebration of simple, spring-time flavours that go really well together on the plate,” he says. “It makes for a perfect light dinner or entrée.”
4 large organic portobello mushrooms, stems removed and reserved
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
3 tbs pecans, crushed
1 lemon, zest and juice
sea salt and black pepper
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch parsley, chopped
2 tbs pecans, toasted and chopped
Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Add the mushroom stems, garlic, pecans, lemon juice and zest, salt and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil to a food processor, along with the parsley. Pulse until it forms a rough, wet paste. Arrange the mushrooms, gill-side up, on the prepared baking tray and spoon over the prepared mixture. Drizzle over the remaining oil and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until mushrooms are cooked through and the herb crust is golden brown. Divide among plates, season with salt and pepper and serve topped with toasted pecans, extra lemon zest and parsley.
This recipe of Luke’s from his book Smart Carbs also features in the latest Australian Organic cookbook: Our Tasty Certified Organic Recipe Book.
First published: September 2019