Family: Solanaceae also known as the nightshade or potato family.
Nutrition: High in potassium, potatoes also contain vitamin C and some calcium, iron and B vitamins. Most of the nutrients are contained just under the skin so keep their jackets whenever possible.
Caution: The starch in potatoes is rapidly digested which quickly raises blood sugar levels. This means it has a high glycaemic load so should be eaten in moderation by anyone who has blood sugar handling issues.
Did you know? Potatoes are not included as one of your 5 a-day.
Storage: cool, dark and dry, ideally in a cloth or paper bag not in the fridge.
Preparation: Sprouts contain solanine, a poisonous alkaloid, remove any growths or discoloured areas before cooking.
Cooking: boiled, baked, roasted, mashed, and fried.
Good with: pretty much anything.
Good in: soup, casseroles, gratin, fish cakes, curries and cold in salads.
Recipe: Leek and Potato Soup
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic (optional), minced or grated 2-3 medium leeks, sliced
4-6 medium potatoes, diced
1.2 litres vegetable stock (Marigold is a good brand) or chicken stock
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Gently heat the olive oil in a soup pan and add the onions and leeks. Stir to coat with oil. Sauté for 5 minutes then add the garlic and potatoes, cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring to stop browning.
2. Add the stock, cover the pan and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
3. You can either serve as it is or liquidise to make a creamy soup. Add more stock to thin if necessary.
4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Other recipes to try:
Family: Allium Alliaceae or onion family.
Nutrition: Onions are a good source of B complex, vitamins C, E carotene, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium. They are rich in sulphur compounds; the volatile oils that makes your eyes water. These antioxidants may help to lower blood pressure and blood lipids. Onions contain flavonoids that provide protection against cardiovascular disease via anticoagulants that suppress platelet clumping. They also have antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
Did you know? According to an old English rhyme:
Onion skins very thin.
Mild winter coming in;
Onion skins thick and tough.
Coming winter cold and rough.
Storage: cool, dark and dry, ideally in a cloth or paper bag – not in the fridge.
Cooking: sautéed, fried, roasted, baked and pickled.
Good in: soups, casseroles, pasta sauce, curry, salad.
Recipe: Onion and Thyme Frittata
1. Heat oil and butter in a frying pan.
2. Add the onions, cook over a low heat stirring occasionally for 5 mins.
3. Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl, add a pinch of salt and add to frying pan.
4. Cook until both sides are lightly browned.
(From The Silver Spoon, Phaidon 2005)
Other recipes to try:
Family: Leguminosae, bean or legume family
Nutrition: B complex, vitamins A, C and E, and lutein, a free-radical scavenging carotenoid, iron, phosphorus and potassium.
Storage: best used soon as possible, otherwise store in the salad compartment of the fridge.
Preparation: Once shelled, pea pods can be used to make stock.
Cooking: Fresh peas can be eaten raw or cooked briefly (2-3 mins) in boiling water.
Good with: fish, ham, roasts.
Good in: Risotto, curry, pasta, pilaf, egg-fried rice, potato salad, mixed salads.
Recipe: Pea Risotto
1. Heat a large saucepan over a gentle heat; melt the butter and sauté the onion or shallots. Add the rice, stirring constantly, for 1 min.
2. Add 1 ladleful of hot stock and stir until absorbed. Add the rest of the stock; a ladleful at a time, until the rice is almost cooked and stock is absorbed, about 20 mins.
3. Stir in the peas, cooking for 3-5 mins, then remove the pan from the heat.
4. Stir in the cheese (if using) lemon juice and seasoning. Scatter with the lemon zest; serve immediately, with extra grated Parmesan.
Family: Portulacaceae or purslane family.
Nutrition: Vitamins A, C and E,magnesium, calcium and potassium. It also contains alpha linolenic acid an omega-3 fatty acid that can help to lower blood pressure and inflammation.
Cooking: raw or added to hot dishes at the end to briefly wilt.
Good in: salads, use in place of spinach
Storage: bottom of the fridge.
Did you know? Also known as Miner's lettuce, California gold rush miners apparently used to eat purslane for its vitamin C content to prevent scurvy.
Purslane and flageolet salad
From Jekka's Herb Cookbook, Jekka McVicar, Ebury Press 2010)
Family: Valerianaceae or valerian family
Nutrition: Vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, B6, B9, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids
Cooking: raw or added to hot dishes to wilt at the end
Good in: salads, mash
Storage: bottom of the fridge, use quickly
Lamb's Lettuce, Orange and Roast Beetroot Salad
4 small beetroot
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
100g lamb's lettuce
1/2 red onion, sliced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp orange juice
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1. Toss the beetroot in a little olive oil and cumin seeds.
2. Place in an oven pre-heated to 200°C and roast for about 45 minutes, or until tender.
3. Take out of the oven and set aside to cool then peel and cut into wedges.
4. Arrange the lamb's lettuce, beets, orange segments and onion on a platter. Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the salad as a dressing.
Further information and recipes
Books: (All available through Devon Libraries)
Cooking Outside the Box: Easy, Seasonal, Organic (The Abel & Cole Cookbook) Keith Abel
Cook Your Own Veg Carol Klein
Jekka s Herb Cookbook Jekka McVicar
Riverford Farm Cook Book: Tales from the Fields, Recipes from the Kitchen Guy Watson and Jane Baxter
Veg: The Cookbook Greg Wallace