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What to eat in

September

Onions, chard and ripe, juicy plums are all in season in September, and we share our favourite quiche recipe

Chard is known by many different names: seakale beet, rhubarb chard, leaf beet, or ruby chard to name just a few. But whatever you call it, chard is at its best at this time of year and it's well worth tracking down this unusual, eye-catching plant and giving it a go in the kitchen.

  

It's not always easy to find chard for sale in the supermarket, so if you want a steady supply it's best to grow your own. Fortunately, it's easy to grow from seed and is happy in a large pot, so doesn't require a lot of space. With its multi-coloured stems and large, glossy leaves, it's also an attractive plant that wouldn't look out of place in the flower border.

Young chard leaves can be eaten whole and raw in a salad. With bigger leaves it's best to remove the thick, fleshy stalks from the leaves and cook them separately.


The leaves have a similar flavour to spinach, and can be lightly steamed or wilted in a little butter or olive oil for a quick and healthy side dish. They are also great in a frittata, with some chopped onions and sliced mushrooms.


To cook the stems, slice and stir-fry in sesame oil with some garlic, ginger and chilli. Or serve sautéed chard with a rich cheese sauce as an alternative to cauliflower cheese.

  

British plums are also in season this month and all sorts of varieties are available, from the sweet, yellow and red Victoria to the dark purple Marjorie's Seedling.

  

Plums can be roasted, poached or stewed and added to crumbles, cakes and pies.

For a quick and easy dessert, spread halved, stoned plums on a baking sheet and sprinkle with orange juice and 100g grated marzipan, then bake at 180°C for 15 minutes. Pile into a ready-made sponge flan case, sprinkle with toasted, flaked almonds and serve with double cream.

  

Plum jam is one of the easiest jams to make as plums are naturally high in pectin, the substance that causes jams and jellies to set. Put a kilo of stoned and halved plums into a large pan with 250ml water and simmer for 20 minutes until soft. Add 1kg sugar and a tablespoon of lemon juice and boil rapidly for 10-15 minutes until setting point is reached. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before pouring into sterilized jars.

When cooking almost any savoury recipe, the first thing many cooks will do is chop an onion. Onions and garlic are used to add flavour to soups, sauces, stews and casseroles – but these versatile vegetables can also take a more starring role in all sorts of dishes.

  

Onions are great for roasting. Cut into largish chunks, toss in olive oil and bake for around 40 minutes – for a colourful side dish roast along with chunks of courgette, aubergine and some halved tomatoes. Or fry finely chopped onions and garlic with some chopped bacon, then stir through hot pasta with some cream or crème fraîche for a quick supper dish.

  

Onions and bacon are also the key ingredients for a classic quiche Lorraine – or for something a little different, try this recipe.

Caramelised red onion and feta quiche

170g plain flour

85g butter or margarine

3 tbsp cold water

2 red onions, sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

150g feta, cubed

2 eggs

150ml milk

  

First make the pastry case. Mix the flour, butter and water in a food processor until the mixture begins to form into a ball. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead lightly until smooth. Roll the pastry into a large circle and press lightly into a greased flan tin. Bake the pastry case "blind" – put a layer of baking paper on top of the pastry, weigh down with pie weights or baking beans and bake at 180°C for 15 minutes. Allow to cool before removing the paper and beans.

  

To make the filling, toss the onion slices in the olive oil, spread onto an oiled baking tray and roast at 180°C for about 15 minutes until they begin to brown.


Put the cooked onions into the pastry case, cover with the cubed feta, crumbling it slightly. Whisk together the eggs and milk, and pour over the onions and cheese.

  

Bake at 190°C for 35-40 minutes, or until the filling is set and golden brown. Serve with a fresh crusty loaf and a green salad.


Little Green Space September 2016