Eating In: Italian and Organic
I love Italian food and I love organic fruit and vegetables so when I was offered the opportunity to review a big organic box of goodies from Vita, the Italian food delivery company based in Covent Garden Market, I jumped at the chance. The element of surprise appealed to me too. I had no clue what might be in that box, although regular customers can choose from what is seasonal and in prime condition. The organic produce is sourced from Sicily, from a cooperative called Salamita. I have it on good authority from my dental hygienist that the majority of Sicily’s producers are firmly behind the organic movement and she should know (her family run an eco tourism business and grow their own food).
So! Lets open the box! I spy! Gleaming white fennel, a perennial favourite, the glossy greens of kohlrabi and celery, rosy apples of various sizes, oranges, lemons, ’tis the citrus season …could it be? that these are blood oranges? My first ever organic blood oranges? I have examined and rejected that weird looking kohlrabi from my local Farmers’Market but hey it’s in the box, so this will be another first! I hate waste so it will get eaten from root to leaftop!
I love getting vegetables with the soil still clinging to them! And celery with its fresh green leaves intact. As for lemons, they are always the start to my day. Warm filtered water with the tangy lemon providing lots of zing.
But first things first. The minute I opened the box, I started eating and I couldn’t stop. A lot of what I eat is raw. fruit and veg at its simplest, in its natural, unadorned state. I made straight for these beauties below and ate them like sweets. They were seriously sweet without that unwelcome sensation of over ripeness. Perfection. And loads of them. for later!
Yes, full of pips, but that’s the price you pay for authenticity! Tasted great in a salad with fennel and celery. As I often rely on the best virgin oil I can afford (this one is green and fruity and greek) and a pinch of Pink Himalayan salt to bring out the flavour, that’s what I did on this occasion and it worked a treat. Keeping it simple.
Squash is so substantial. I roasted it after removing the seeds, leaving the skin on. Towards the end of roasting -and it only took about twenty minutes, I threw in the seeds. Delicious as a crunchy snack for the ever-peckish. Skin went in the compost bin!
Spuds! I wouldn’t be Irish if I didn’t love my potatoes. These aren’t the floury kind of my childhood but they were small and sweetly nutty when I steamed them alongside some of the green leaves from the beets/chard. Served in a puddle of oil, with a squeeze of lemon.
It wasn’t all savoury. I chopped up the apples and served them with thick coconut cream, amaranth and cinnamon. One to repeat. The apples are a softer variety than I’d normally go for but they tasted “from the tree” and that’s good enough for me. Reminiscent of that fresh taste I loved as a child visiting my uncle’s orchard in Co Armagh. the orchard county of Ireland!
Fennel with an orange that was orange. No blood red as yet. But juicy! and those chard greens making another appearance. Providing a good contrast of taste and texture. Eating it simply and slowly.Keeping it real.
Red-blooded cherry tomatoes (yes some were not instantly eaten on arrival!) with crunchy, salty celery, homemade hummus and slow-cooked beans. Celery leaf aplenty.. The flavour! And the feeling you get from eating organic! Can’t be equaled, in my opinion. There are those that argue, the produce less travelled is best, but for me organic from the UK and Europe is near enough to make it first choice.
With so much green going on, I blasted some of it in the Nutri Bullet as a mid morning pick me up. I could have added spirulina but I left it out, so the colour was purely from the vegetable leaves. the taste was strong and sinewy. Fed the blood cells! Energizing!
What did I do with that strange beast, the kohlrabi? I started out by removing the skin and then I sliced it. Thinking I might? Steam it? Then I ate it. Then I ate some more! It is delicious raw! Who knew? I shall never shy away from it again.Crisp, crunchy and sweet.I’d put it before apples as a healthy, satisfying snack.
Trust me. I know it looks a bit lunar in this photo, but try it!
I was charmed by this selection of seasonal organic fruit and vegetables. The ultimate test? has to be the taste test and believe me, these fruits, these vegetables scored high on taste. The freshness. The vibrancy of the colours. The farming methods. I’d love to know the back story. I’d love to visit some of these growers and their farms. It’s certainly a good excuse to return to the enviable sunshine and beautiful landscape of this unique part of Italy. In the meantime, I will say that yes, there were indeed blood oranges in my box, with wonderfully gnarled pocked skins and in keeping the best ’til last, my final eating pleasure was all the greater!
for details of Vita , who deliver throughout London, go to their website