Last year we had a bumper crop of red cabbages. Due to poor planning we somehow ended up with (I kid you not) about 50 big, beautiful and perfectly formed red cabbages, all ready at once. Luckily they store pretty well and we eat a lot of fresh vege every day so we had cabbage with every meal, gave away a lot and sent some to market (we had enough to fill a whole stand!). However, we still had a serious glut and my imagination was stretched trying to find new and exciting ways to feed cabbage to the family. Recently, I started fermenting vegetables and I wish I had all those beautiful organic cabbages back again because I know exactly what to do with them now!
I got into fermenting vegetables because I am, what you would describe as, nutritionally curious. What can I say? Gut health and good nutrition push my buttons. Fermented vegetables are really good for your digestion and a great source of Vitamin K2 - a known cancer fighter. I used this recipe from Sarah(I Quit Sugar)Wilson. Sarah says that the best way to start fermenting vegetables is to make whey and to make whey, you gotta make cheese. Bonus points here because cheesemaking is high on my list of kitchen experiments too. What surprised me was how easy it is. So to make your cheese and whey, you simply take a tub of plain organic and/or biodynamic yoghurt, line a jug or bowl with a square of muslin or cheesecloth, dump the yoghurt in, then suspend the yoghurt over the bowl for a while to separate the whey from the cream cheese. The whey I had pegged for my fermenting but after a few batches I found I had more cream cheese than I would usually use until I remembered my mum's recipe for Tomato Pie with Cream Cheese Pastry and my problems were solved. This pie is ace especially on a cold winter's night!
Tomato Pie with Cream Cheese Pastry
Part 1. Caramelized onions
Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions and thyme and cook until soft. Add sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper then cook until caramelized (about ten minutes). Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until cold.
Part 2. Cream Cheese Pastry
Put flour, butter and cream cheese in a food processor and zizz until it looks like fine crumbs. Whilst still zizzing add the water until the whole lot combines. Turn the pastry out onto a clean floured bench and shape into a round disc, wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll pastry out on baking paper into a circle (about 30 cms diameter). Lift pastry onto a flat tray and spread caramelized onions on the center leaving a border of about 5 cms.
Part 3. Tomatoes
Combine the tomatoes in a bowl with thyme and olive oil and toss to coat. Arrange the rounds on top of the caramelized onion, allowing the edges to overlap slightly. Fold the pastry up and inwards to wrap the edges and pleat lightly then brush with oil and season. Cook in a hot oven (about 200C) for about 35 minutes or until pastry is browned. Serve garnished with fresh thyme.
Enjoy experimenting - your stomach will love the fermented vegies!
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