It’s finally starting to look a bit like spring in Melbourne. The days are getting longer and brighter, and there’s a bit of a sparkle in people’s eyes as blacks and winter coats are replaced with brighter colours, t shirts and flip flops. It feels like it’s been a long, dreary winter this year and I have been looking forward to the new season, especially for the delicious produce. I love the change of the seasons since each season offers an array of different fresh produce, and spring definitely brings some of my favourites like asparagus, artichokes, berries, spring onions, broccoli and mushrooms… the list goes on…
There’s nothing I like better than starting my weekend with a trip to my local or farmer’s market on a Saturday. My local market is the South Melbourne Market, which always has a great range of organic and fresh produce on offer. It’s a ritual of ours to start with a flat white at Padre Coffee before shopping up a storm. Although I am a culprit for shopping in the supermarket when I am in a rush, I always prefer to shop at a local market to have a chat with the traders and get to know where the food is coming from and who is growing it. Sometimes I bring along a shopping list, but what I love the most is browsing the markets and looking for inspiration; it’s a great chance to experiment with different ingredients and flavour combinations, or just to rework some old classics. If you’re unsure about what is in season, just ask one of the local traders what produce is freshest at the moment. It’s all part of the fun.
This month I have partnered with Mutti Pomodoro to create some delicious spring recipes as part of their ‘goodness’ campaign to bring to tables around Australia. Mutti thrives to not only respect the land but to protect it, constantly working to reduce the water consumption and environmental footprint of their production process. Fresh tomatoes are not in season in many months of the year, which is why I love using Mutti tomatoes combined with fresh local produce in my cooking. Tinned tomatoes are always a staple in my household; they are such a versatile ingredient, whether I’m looking to make a lasagne, ragu or my favourite pizza, it’s always the perfect base for a recipe. And I always know Mutti is sustainable too…
I have become a lot more aware of the importance of eating local and seasonal produce recently and the rising importance of eating sustainably. Unfortunately big supermarkets don’t do consumers any favours since most produce is available throughout the year even if it’s not in season, so consumers are now used to eating what they want, when they want. Eating seasonal produce is not only good for the environment, it’s better for flavour, since the produce is picked closer to the time it will be eaten, rather than harvested early. It also has the added benefit of being cheaper since it’s at the peak of its supply and storage and transport expenses are not required.
In the last few months I have also made a conscious effort to eat less meat in favour of more plant-based dishes. Now I tend to cook only vegetarian foods when at home. I find vegetarian dishes enable me to be more creative and challenge me to use unusual ingredients I have never cooked with before (including these delicious golden baby beetroots I found at the South Melbourne Market on the weekend!).
As a food writer and blogger, I often eat out (a lot!) but this makes me appreciate home cooking so much more. My partner and I are always home on Sunday nights to cook a meal together; it’s our time to relax and unwind from the busy week gone by and rejuvenate for the week ahead. Both of us are often guilty of working long hours during the week, so it’s always nice to have a weekly date night where we can prepare good food and have a wine or two together while we cook (no phones or Instagram allowed!). We often come up with weekly challenges and take it in turns to cook an inventive meal. Even if only one of us is preparing the meal, often the other will just hang out in the kitchen, and we’ll have a chat and a glass of wine while everything is cooking. There’s something lovely about preparing a meal from scratch, rather than getting lazy and dialling in a pizza or uber eats. And it saves you money while you’re at it.
I have been a little obsessed with galettes lately; they are so easy to make and I love experimenting with different flavour combinations. It’s also a great way of using up any leftover vegetables you have in the fridge. I love using Mutti Pomodoro passata as a base topping: It has a beautiful bright red colour and velvety texture and the sweet flavour really enhances the filling.
This vegetarian galette includes some delicious ingredients I bought at the South Melbourne Market including my prized golden beetroots and some herbs from our garden. But feel free to experiment with other fillings. Here is the recipe we created last Sunday night. Bon appetitit!
- 1 Cup of Plain Flour
- Pinch of Salt
- 90 grams Unsalted Butter, very cold, cubed
- ¼ cup Iced Water
- 1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
- Mutti Pomodoro Passata
- 1 garlic clove, finally grated
- 200g spinach
- 200g artichoke hearts
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 100g mushrooms, sliced
- 2 asparagus stems, slices
- Small bunch of baby golden beetroot
- 50g feta cheese
- Handful of basil leaves
- Salt and pepper to season
- To make the pastry, combine the flour, salt and very cold butter into a food processor and process until fine crumbs form. Sprinkle the iced water over the flour mixture and pulse slightly until the dough just comes together into a ball.
- On a lightly floured surface slightly knead the dough and press it into a flat disc and refrigerate (covered) for at least 30 minutes (ideally 1 hour).
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, fan forced. Cut the stems off the golden beetroots and boil for 20 minutes until tender. Place in cold water and peel straight away.
- Heat oil in a saucepan, add garlic and cook for 1 minute on low. Add spinach until just wilted and combine with artichoke hearts and lemon juice.
- To assemble the galette, roll out the cold dough on a sheet of baking paper to a round of approx 30cm. Score a light 2 inch border the whole way around the pastry round.
- Pour Mutti Pomodoro Passata on the centre of the dough, leaving a 2 inch border and top with the cooked spinach and artichoke mix, mushrooms, golden beetroots and asparagus. Sprinkle with feta cheese.
- Gently fold over the pastry border, overlapping the edges as much as possible and gently press the folds together.
- Brush the folded edges of the crust with the egg yolk and bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Garnish with basil leaves and season with salt and pepper.
This post is in partnership with Mutti Pomodoro.. All opinions expressed are purely honest and my own.