Garden gluts

At the moment I’m constantly trying to come up with new recipes to use up the produce in the garden – I’m a bit overwhelmed with runner beans, there are tonnes of blackberries (not literally tonnes obviously but I picked 450g tonight and there’s plenty more ripening), a multitude of apples are on their way and there’s still plenty of beetroot, with a late crop to come, as well as leeks and broccoli later in the year.  Courgettes have let me down this year, although last year they were bountiful.  Whilst obviously I can pickle, preserve and freeze (and I do) we’re always a bit overrun with chutneys and jams and so I try to use as much as I can as it’s ready from the garden.

Here’s a selection of some of my favourite recipes that I’ve found for using up my garden gluts (including the courgettes as I had great plans for them – I’m hoping this is just a 2011 lapse):

Runner beans

I love this runner bean salad from Asda recipes – really flavoursome with slightly salty edge from the capers.  Goes beautifully with quiche, ham, spanish omelette and no doubt lots of other dishes.  This week I’ve added green lentils and tuna to make a fuller salad for lunches, which works really well.

For some reason, the idea of runner bean dhal popped into my head this year and I’ve become a bit obsessed with it, especially since going on my Tideswell School of Food Indian cookery evening and learning to make fresh naan bread.  You could adapt any vegetable dhal recipe, but here’s the one that I used as a base, adding extra chilli  from the garden (tick!).

My runner beans

My runner beans

I’ve been putting runner beans in so many different dishes – I like them in curries, stir-fries, risottos (especially with a bit of chorizo) and casseroles as well as simply steamed on the side.  They also work well in place of savoy cabbage in this bacon and savoy cabbage pasta recipe I posted in January.

Here’s a recipe I can’t wait to try – I was thinking of some sort of chorizo con judias verdes (chorizo with green beans) tapas idea, and I came across this recipe for creamy chorizo and green beans.  I’m sure runner beans would fit in perfectly well.  I was slightly hesitant about the addition of cream at first, but the author – Kristina of the Fifth floor cooking blog in Denmark – sells it pretty well as ‘one of the most scrumptious dishes I’ve ever had’.  Pretty convincing.


Freshly picked blackberries

Freshly picked blackberries

I’m not a massive baker (much to my husband’s chagrin) but I’ve found a few good recipes which use blackberries.  I love blackberry and white chocolate muffins – there’s loads of muffin recipes around, and really you could substitute blackberries for any fruit in other recipes, such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries… the recipe I’m using at the moment is from the Goddess’s Kitchen blog.

I also like the idea of apple and blackberry cake – I use the recipe that my mum uses, so I think I’ll try sticking a good handful of blackberries in as it’s already a lovely moist cake, but there are lots of other recipes here and here and here

As for savoury recipes, this roast duck with blackberry sauce recipe caught my eye last year, and I was reminded of it by Nibbly Pig on Twitter the other day when we were chatting about blackberry recipes.  It looks glorious and I’ll definitely be trying it.

We’re also using up lots of blackberries in breakfast smoothies, mixed in and blitzed up with whatever other fruit we have lying around.  I’ve usually got some in the freezer, which gives the smoothie a nice chill on a warm summer’s morning.  Not that there are many of those about.




My husband and I are massive fans of courgette lasagne – I’ve cooked it for some friends as well and it always goes down fabulously well.  The recipe includes ricotta, but I’ve made it with a standard cream cheese too, which is a good substitute if you’re using up ingredients or looking to cut costs a bit.

I’ve made a grilled courgette tapas recipe quite a few times.  You end up with really succulent, flavoursome discs of courgette.  It’s such a simple recipe and barely needs any ingredients – I use the thyme from my garden, so it all feels fresh and homegrown.  Here’s a photo of the recipe I use, from this little book a friend gave me a few years’ ago:

Courgette tapas

Courgette tapas

This courgette, potato and mint frittata is great warm, but I think it’s even better cold.  It makes a fabulous packed lunch.  I recommend adding LOTS of mint to this, much more than the handful it suggests.


Apples ripening

Apples ripening

This is where my glut really becomes a challenge and I hated having to throw away some rotten apples this year, that I just wasn’t able to use up.  Some of the recipes I found only used 1 or 2 apples, so whilst they were lovely, they didn’t make great inroads into the stacks of crates sitting in my basement.  However, there are some great recipes in this selection and a dash of tangy apple in a savoury dish always appeals to me and if I achieve my aim of making cider this year, then that will tackle a good number of the pesky things.



Delia’s curried parsnip and apple soup is one of my favourites – I don’t tend to bother with making the parsnip crisps, because I’m lazy, but it makes the whole kitchen smell beautiful.  It freezes well and is such a great winter warmer to take into work for lunch.

I also adore Delia’s tomato, apple and celery cream soup – it’s heavenly,  the apple gives it a really unique flavour.  For some reason her original recipe isn’t online, but I found this one from the Tomato Lover blog which is essentially the same but for 2 details:

  1. The sherry is omitted in her blog – I say it’s essential!
  2. It doesn’t mention straining through a sieve after blending, which is a bit of a pain, but I do think it needs it to give a really smooth soup.

Delia once again…this time I’m praising her fast roast pork with rosemary and caramelised apples – each time I’ve made this, it’s worked perfectly and has been lick-your-plate-clean delicious.  She suggests using Granny Smith apples but it’s worked fine with apples from my trees in the garden, whatever they may be!

I couldn’t really omit a classic apple tart from this list…my freezer gets stocked up with lots of stewed apples, which I use as the filling for this tart, then I glaze it with my homemade apple jelly.

Any more ideas for using up my garden produce, or great recipes you’ve found for the veg from your own garden?

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3 Responses to Garden gluts

  1. Terry Watson says:

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  2. Ros says:

    Wow! I’m impressed with all those recipes, there are some good ideas that I’m going to try.

    I made some tasty courgette muffins with honey and ginger.

    Baked apples stuffed with dates and served with custard is a nice dessert.

    Have you tried making granita, ice cream or sorbet with the blackberries?


    • Thanks! Courgette muffins are a nice idea. My first ice cream task is gooseberry and elderflower with all the gooseberries my mum gave me from her garden! But I had wondered about granita, possibly an apple one…apple and mint? Oh and you replying has reminded me I meant to link to you because you mentioned the duck with blackberry sauce recipe – will do that now!

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