We all want to do our bit to support local farmers, right? But what can we do to help? Before you heave on your wellies and head for the nearest field, we’re here to tell you there’s a simpler way and it starts with your shopping list. By purchasing and cooking with seasonal vegetables from local suppliers, we can lower costs for our farmers whilst reducing the carbon emissions involved in transporting non-local produce. Not only is seasonal food tastier, more nutritious and better for the planet, it’s also cheaper too, what’s not to love? Here at Loch Leven’s Larder, we’re fortunate to have our very own Channel Farm keeping our kitchen, cafes and Food Hall fully stocked with the freshest, most flavourful vegetables all year round.
Channel Farm, alongside Loch Leven’s Larder, is a family run affair and was first taken over by the Niven family in 2002, proudly making us the 3rd generation to farm the land. Rob and Michael’s Grandfather first bought the 200-acre farm in 1934, when supplying food for the country was an absolute paramount. Back when a large majority of the oats and hay grown was used just to fuel the horse and carts and trains were the only way to transport large scale goods. Channel Farm is uniquely positioned with a south-facing aspect, high-rainfall and cool summer temperatures at 400 feet above sea-level. In other words, the perfect conditions for quality vegetable farming. Nearly 90 years on (almost a century!), Channel Farm has expanded significantly, covering 750 acres, growing 25 different crops and supplying supermarkets and wholesale markets all across the UK. Let’s not forget as well, our very own Loch Leven’s Larder which sits at the heart of it all. When first buying over the land, our focus had always been to supply locally. Raising a young family at the time, we longed for a relaxed venue to spend time with the children whilst supporting local businesses in the Kinross and Perthshire area. Suddenly, an idea was born. We had the land, we had the produce, why not create our own? So, in 2006, after months of careful planning, determination and hard work that’s just what we did. Loch Leven’s Larder has grown with the farm throughout the years in ways we couldn’t have imagined. Our field-to-fork ethos has remained central to everything we do and this summer we’ve decided to showcase just a few of our farm’s seasonal vegetables to celebrate all things glorious greens!
Read on to find out more about Channel Farm, what vegetables we grow and some of our favourite ways to dish them up! All recipes are incorporated using Channel Farm veg and locally-sourced oils, ingredients and condiments sold within our Food Hall.
Broccoli, nature’s vibrant green jewel, is a vegetable that packs a punch in both taste and health benefits. Loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to give your immune system a turbo boost, these mighty trees are a part of the brassica family with four common varieties grown within the UK. This time of year, you can find Channel Farm growing the widely cultivated, Calabrese broccoli, specifically the Parthenon variety, appreciated for its bitter taste and crunchy texture. Channel Farm’s broccoli holds a special place in our hearts at the Larder, providing our cafes with fresh and versatile flavours. Head Chef Brian Padmore and his team are always looking for unique and simple ways to utilise the farm’s glorious greens. Have a go at our latest Broccoli salad dish and experience its robust flavour first hand.
Broccoli Salad Recipe
This recipe combines the fresh and tender steamed broccoli with the tangy flavours of lemon and red onion, enhanced by a hint of chilli flakes. The addition of hazelnuts provides a delightful texture and nuttiness that complements the dish perfectly. Steaming your broccoli is one of the best cooking methods to retain as many vitamins and minerals as possible, second to eating it raw. Steaming also strikes that perfect balance between tenderness and crunchiness and helps preserve that glorious green colour!
- Red onion, thinly sliced
- Chilli flakes
- Tender stem broccoli
- Preserved lemon
- Candied mixed nuts
- Rapeseed oil
Prepare the broccoli by cutting it into florets. Trim the stems and remove any tough parts.
Fill a pot with water and bring it to the boil. Place a steamer or colander on top of the pot, ensuring that it doesn’t touch the water. Add the broccoli to the steamer basket, cover with lid, and steam for approximately 8 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender but still vibrant green. You can check if it is done by piercing the stalks with a fork.
While the broccoli is steaming, prepare the lemon-onion dressing. In a bowl, combine the thinly sliced red onion, the zest of the lemon, lemon pulp (removing any seeds), chilli flakes, and rapeseed oil. Mix well to combine.
Once the broccoli is cooked, transfer to the bowl with the lemon-onion dressing. Gently toss until fully coated. The acidity of the lemon will help brighten the flavours of the dish.
Season the broccoli with salt and pepper to taste, adjusting according to your preference. Plate on a serving dish, sprinkled with chopped hazelnuts for a delightful crunch and nutty flavour, and enjoy!
Our next leafy member of the brassica family to take to the stage is kale! This versatile delight is a powerhouse when it comes to fibre and antioxidants. Here on Channel Farm, we grow two varieties of Kale, Curly and Cavolo Nero, or Tuscan Kale as some refer to it as. Curly Kale, as the name suggests, has tightly curled leaves, a deep green colour and a hearty and chewy texture. Cavolo Nero, on the other hand, has long, narrow, and deeply textured leaves that are a dark bluish-green colour. They are often described as having a slightly sweeter taste to the bitter Curly Kale. Its tender form makes it a popular choice for sauteing, braising and adding to soups and stews. Both varieties are packed with nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K as well as being high in fibre and antioxidants. Below you’ll find one of our favourite dishes, guaranteed to make kale the highlight of dinnertime. You’ll find its robust and earthy flavours perfectly balance the aromatic spices of a traditional dahl.
Kale Dahl Recipe
Inspired by Clare Scrine’s The Shared Kitchen: Beautiful Meals Made From the Basics, available within our Gift Shop.
- 60ml (1/4) cup olive oil
- 1 large onion
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 40g ginger, peeled and grated or finely chopped
- 375g brown lentils, rinsed
- 750ml-litre vegetable stock or water
- Large bunch of Channel Farm Kale, leaves picked and shredded
- 1 long green chilli, finely chopped (optional), plus extra, sliced, to serve
- ½ bunch of coriander stems and leaves
- 150g raw cashew nuts, soaked in 250-500ml boiling water for 20 minutes
- 1x400ml tin coconut milk
- 1-2 tsp sugar
- Juice of 1-2 limes
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 4-5 cardamom pods
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
Heat a large heavy-based saucepan or deep firing pan over medium heat add all the spice mix ingredients. Cook, tossing frequently for 2-3, until fragrant and beginning to pop. Pour the spices into a mortar and or bowl) and set aside to cool.
Next, add the olive oil and diced onion to the warm pan and cook for 10-15 minutes over low heat, until the onion begins to caramelise. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a further 3-5 minutes, until fragrant. Meanwhile, grind the spices using the mortar and pestle to a rough powder or pulse them in a food processor.
Add the spices to the pan and stir well to combine. Add the lentils and 750ml (3 cups) of the stock or water and increase the heat to medium. Bring the mixture to a slow simmer, then reduce the heat back to low and allow the lentils to cook away for 15-20 minutes, adding a little more stock or water if needed.
Blanch the kale in boiling water for 30 seconds maximum, until it brightens in colour, then drain in a colander and run under cold water. It's important not to overcook the kale here, to ensure it retains a beautiful bright green colour. Add the cooled kale to a high-powered blender, along with the chilli if using) and coriander, then drain the cashew nuts and add them too. Band the mixture until smooth and silky, adding a splash of water if necessary to get the ingredients moving. If you only have a food processor, the kale probably won’t break down completely and give you a smooth, creamy texture, but it will still be delicious.
Once the lentils are almost tender, but still have a little bite, add the coconut milk and stir well to combine. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then sir through the kale mixture and turn off the heat, allowing the heat of the lentils to warm it through without losing its vibrant colour. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons of the lime vice and so well. Taste the dahl and add more sugar, lime juice or salt to taste.
Serve the dahl with rice, with a splash of green chilli chutney or some sliced green chilli, a swirl of coconut yoghurt and some fresh tomato and cucumber.
Descendant from the squash family, next up we have our succulent and verdant courgettes, otherwise known as zucchinis to our American and Canadian friends. We’ll normally cut our courgettes when they are around 8 inches in length as this immature stage is when they’re at their sweetest and freshest. Courgette flowers are another sign of a truly fresh and delicious courgette. Whilst these yellow blossoms are edible and delectable in cooking, their highly perishable nature makes them difficult to sell in supermarkets. Luckily for us, we’re able to pick these beauties straight off the field and send them direct to our kitchens where they can be incorporated into a variety of recipes. There’s a multitude of ways to prepare our courgettes, whether that’s boiled, steamed, stuffed, baked, fried or perhaps grilled on a BBQ this summer. They are renowned for their ease of cultivation, making them a favourite among gardeners and farmers alike. Their hardy nature, fast growth and high yield makes these glorious greens one of our most productive and satisfying crops we grow.
Soft Courgettes with Harissa and Lemon
Inspired by Ottolinghi’s recipe book, Flavour, available within our Gift Shop
- 85ml olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp rose harissa
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- ½ preserved lemon, finely chopped
- 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
- 1kg courgettes, finely sliced
- 10g basil leaves, roughly torn
Place a large, non-stick sauté pan on a medium-high heat with the oil and garlic. Gently try for 4 minutes, stirring often, until soft, golden and aromatic. You don't want the garlic to become at all browned or crispy, so turn the heat down if necessary. Remove 3 tablespoons of oil, along with half the garlic, and transfer to a small bowl with the harissa, chilli, preened lemon and lemon juice. Stir together and set aside.
Return the pan to a high heat and add the courgettes and a teaspoon of salt. Cook for 18 minutes, stirring often, until the courgettes are very soft, but are still mostly holding their shape (you don't want the courgettes to brown, so turn the heat down if necessary). Sir through half the basil and transfer to a platter. Spoon the harissa mixture over the courgettes. Leave to sit for 15 minutes, then sprinkle with a pinch of salt and finish with the remaining basil.
Last but certainly not least, we bring our list of glorious greens to a close with the crisp and comforting leek. Boasting long and tender stalks, this vegetable comes from the allium family and is simply bursting with nutrients whilst exuding an onion-like aroma. In fact, leeks can be used as a replacement for onions if you’re looking for a milder flavour profile. These sturdy stems have a knack for blending with an array of ingredients, making them a culinary gift in the Larder. One irresistible combination we recommend trying this season is leek with miso! Whether it’s in a soup, a glaze for roasted leeks or combined in a sauce, the natural sweetness of leeks will help to mellow the intensity of miso’s umami notes, resulting in a well-rounded and mouth-watering dish. You can find a number of organic and locally-sourced key ingredients within our Food Hall, including Clearspring’s organic white miso paste, made from an old family recipe in Japan’s Nagano prefecture.
Leeks with Miso and Chive Salsa
Inspired by Ottolinghi’s recipe book Flavour, available within our Gift Shop.
- 12 medium Channel Farm leeks
- 300ml sunflower oil, for deep frying
- 1 ¼ tsp cornflour
- 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and flaked sea salt
Miso and Chive Salsa
- 15g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 ½ tbsp mixed black and white sesame seeds, very well toasted
- 15g chives, finely chopped, plus extra tsp to serve
- 1 ½ tbsp white miso paste
- 60ml mirin
- ¾ tbsp rice vinegar
Begin by removing and discarding the tough outer layers of the leeks. Ensure to wash the leeks thoroughly to eliminate any grit. Trim the darker green tops of the leeks and set them aside, aiming for each leek to be approximately 22cm in length.
Take the reserved green leek tops, weighing around 60g, and finely slice them into thin strips measuring about 8cm long. Rinse them well to remove any remaining grit, dry them thoroughly, and set aside.
To prepare the salsa, use a pestle and mortar (or the side of a knife) to pound the ginger and ¼ teaspoon of flaked salt into a paste. Transfer the paste to a small bowl and add all the remaining salsa ingredients. Stir well to combine everything and set the salsa aside.
Fill a pot with lightly salted water, ensuring it is large enough to accommodate the leeks when laid down. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring the water to a simmer. Once simmering, add the leeks and reduce the heat to medium. To prevent the leeks from floating above the water, place a smaller lid on top of them. Simmer gently for approximately for 20 minutes or until a knife easily goes through the leeks while they still hold their shape. Drain the leeks by standing them vertically in a colander to ensure enough drainage.
While the leeks are draining, take a medium, high- sided saucepan and pour in the sunflower oil. Place the pan over medium-high heat. Line a plate with kitchen paper and toss the dried, sliced green leek tops with 1 teaspoon of cornflour. Once the oil is very hot (around 170 celcius), add the leek tops and fry them for about 2 minutes, stirring with a fork, until they turn golden and crispy. Transfer the fried leek tops to the paper-lined plate using a slotted spoon. Sprinkle them with some flaked salt.
In the same pan, add the garlic along with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of cornflour and fry for approximately 1 minute, stirring frequently to separate the slices, until the garlic becomes crispy and golden. Add the fried garlic to the leek tops and sprinkle the mixture with flaked salt.
Arrange the leeks on a large plate and spoon the salsa over them. Drizzle olive oil on top and garnish with the fried leeks tops and chopped chives. Sprinkle a little lime juice for an extra burst of flavour. Serve and enjoy!