Salad Caprese and Minute Steak on Wild Rocket

Salad Caprese
Steak on Wild Rocket

As one journey nears its end, another one is beginning. What have I learnt?

Notes from diary March 22nd 2009.  So many melons and sweet corn have gone to waste because they were ready for harvesting several days ago when we were in Sydney that I almost feel cheated, but that’s what happens when you’re only there half the time! 

Remarkably, the beans have recovered and are bearing so many purple, green and mottled beans I am picking them every day and offering them to anyone that calls in.  Some of the snow pea plants grew again from the roots I left behind and are producing a fresh crop of tender, sweet snow peas. There are carrots galore, a purple variety called Purple Dragon with orange flesh and a yellow core and other more normal looking ones. The crook neck zucchini is spent but we got plenty of tender fruit from them over the last weeks.  I’ve dedicated hours tying the tomatoes up and we’ve been eating them with everything. There are plenty of herbs and the rainbow chard just goes on and on.  Each evening I pick whatever is ready to be harvested thinking we'll never eat all this, but we invariably do.  The flavours are wonderul.
Sweet yellow tomatoes

Rattlesnake beans (top) and King Purple

This first season of growing my own food is coming to an end.  It has been an interesting and rewarding experience and I have learnt a lot. There have been some lows but plenty of highs.  Witnessing the miracle of tiny seeds overcoming and surviving some pretty tough challenges and growing into enormous, healthy, tasty plants and fruits has been tremendously uplifting. I will do some things differently next time but we can hardly say this season has been a failure. I ask myself, why do more people not grow at least some of their own food?

It is now autumn in Australia and time for the next journey - winter crops!  Broccoli, Kohl Rabi, Broad Beans, Cauliflowers, Sprouts, Kale etc. etc.  I've got packets and packets of heirloom and organic seeds. I can't wait.

Salad Caprese

We are having a warm autumn.  Some days are getting to 35°C so salads and quick to cook meals are the order of the day.  Besides, we have to do something with all the lovely ripe tomatoes and crisp, peppery rocket.

This Italian salad couldn't be easier or healthier.  Goodness packed tomatoes, fresh milky buffalo bocconcini drizzled with the best olive oil and sprinkled with fresh herbs is a sublime combination.  It makes a wonderful lunch with some fresh crusty bread to mop up the delicious juices or a substantial starter to a main meal.  As this dish is so simple, its success depends on the quality of the ingredients, so buy the sweetest tomatoes, the freshest bocconcini and the best olive oil you can.

To serve 4

4 ripe tomatoes
8-10 balls baby bocconcini, drained
2 tbsp of the best extra virgin olive oil you have
Fresh basil leaves, torn
Freshly cracked black pepper

  • Slice the tomatoes and bocconcini and arrange on a serving plate.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with the torn basil and cracked pepper.
  • Serve with crustry bread

Minute Steak on Wild Rocket

Another simple, tasty and nutritious meal.  Quick to prepare on a hot day and wonderful with a glass or two or good red wine.

To serve 4

800g  rump steak (2 large steaks), trimmed
3-4 cups of wild rocket leaves
sea salt flakes
2-3 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white balsamic (optional)
Freshly cracked black pepper

  • Slice each steak in two crosswise.  Place each piece between two pieces of plastic wrap and beat with a meat mallet or rolling pin until thin.
  • Lay the steak in a single layer on a large plate and lighly spray or sprinkle with olive oil and freshly ground black pepper each side.
  • Heat a large pan or barbecue.  Meanwhile, divide the rocket amongst four large serving plates, sprinkle with a little sea salt, olive oil and white balsamic if using.
  • Lightly salt the steak and cook for a minute each side in a very hot pan.
  • Immediately place on top of the rocket and serve with crisped potatoes.
For crisped potatoes, microwave potatoes until tender.  Peel and slice thickly and salt lightly.  Crisp in a moderately hot oiled pan for about 5 minutes each side until golden and crisp.  These are a tasty and healthy alternative to chips.