• In season now: May

    New this month: Asparagus! The food of gods... and carrots are back.

    Still in season from last month: cauliflower, chard, green cabbage, salad leaves, main-crop potatoes (from store), salad leaves, sea kale, spring greens, rhubarb

    Goodbye till next year to: Purple sprouting broccoli (sniff, sniff), leeks, stored parsnips, forced rhubarb

  • What I’m doing here

    This all started when I picked the first strawberries from my new allotment.

    I'd never been so enraptured or so excited by food. It was a shock to find that anything could taste so good.

    So what - I'd never had strawberries before?

    No - all the strawberries I'd had were shop-bought, like as not flown in from intensive growers in Spain or Chile, and eaten in winter when strawberries should be a distant summer memory.

    It revolutionised my thinking about the fresh food we eat every day. I started to wonder if you got the same amazing taste from all types of food grown and eaten in season. And then I decided to do something about it.

    The Year of Eating Seasonally is my little experiment to find out what it's really like not to have it all. The only fruit and veg I and my family are going to eat in 2008 will be what's growing in the ground at the time (or, in winter, what I can get out of store).

    I want to find out if the hungry gap is really as hungry as everyone says it is: whether you're really eating nothing but cabbage all winter; and whether you miss strawberries in December.

    Along the way I hope I'll save a few tons of carbon being released into the atmosphere on my behalf, as I won't be requiring those French beans flown from Chile, thanks very much. And I hope I'll be rediscovering what food can really taste like.

    If you have any comments, please feel free to post them anywhere you like - or you can email me at sallywhite@hotmail.com.

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Italian chard pie

Well, OK, the chard is definitely very English, but the recipe is from Italy.

1 1/2 lbs (750g) chard leaves (weighed after the stalks have been stripped out)

3 fl oz (90 fl oz) olive oil

1 tsp dried basil

6 oz (170g) grated parmesan cheese

about 5 sheets filo pastry

Prepare the chard by stripping the stalks from the leaves – just hold the leaf upside down by the stalk and run a knife sharply down each side of the stem. You can use the stalks as celery substitutes in a separate dish (or saute them in butter for 10 minutes and serve as a side-vegetable with this dish!)

Wash the leaves carefully and roughly tear them into smaller pieces. Then pack them into a saucepan, without adding any more water, and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes. They’ll collapse to a fraction of the volume in the pan, and should still have some crunch left when cooked.

Drain the chard through a sieve, using the back of a wooden spoon to squeeze out as much water as you can. Then when it’s as dry as you can get it, mix it in with the parmesan cheese, olive oil and basil. Give it a really good stir round, and then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Take a shallow pie dish and brush it with olive oil. Drape sheets of filo pastry over the base so that they hang out of the sides of the dish, brushing each sheet with oil as you go. Pack the chard mixture into the centre and work it flat with a wooden spoon. Then fold the edges of the filo pastry over into the middle, brush the top with oil, and lay a final piece of filo over the top to close the gap. Pinch the edges of the pie together to seal, and give it a final brush of olive oil before baking it at gas mark 4 (180C, 350F) for 40 minutes until golden brown on top.


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