This recipe and introduction is from my new cookbook Eating for Pleasure, People & Planet.
At this time of year, we are spoilt. Exotic vegetables grow locally and are at their very best – from sun-thirsty aubergines, prolific peppers and courgettes to tall, bushy fennel plants. Summer is a perfect time to have a barbecue, not just for the sun and long days but to celebrate this diversity of beautiful vegetables. You can barbecue just about anything, and create a spectacle on the table by including a variety of different vegetable species from Root to Fruit.
Green sauce or salsa is a thrifty way to use up root greens, converting them into a savoury and adaptable condiment that can be used as a dip or to dress pasta or vegetables. One of my first jobs in the food industry was at an Argentinian grill in Honduras, in Central America. There, I watched the head chef like a hawk, soaking up all his tricks and mastery of traditional Argentinian food and fire. You will find my nifty trick for lighting a barbecue on my website. This chimichurri is a variation of the recipe we served there.
For the root green chimichurri
To make the root green chimichurri, stack the greens together neatly, cut off any woody stalks and very finely chop the rest from stem to leaf. Mix with the other ingredients for the chimichurri in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.*
Light the charcoal in advance and wait for the coals to turn white before you start cooking. Clean your vegetables and prepare to cook them whole.
If using hard vegetables like beetroots, carrots or globe artichokes, you can always blanch them in salted water first, until just cooked, or soft enough to yield to a skewer poked into them. Alternatively, you can place them on the edge of the fire, in the dying coals, to cook slowly from raw. Cooked from raw like this, they will takean hour or two, depending on their size. You might find they are a little charred on the outside if you cook them in this way, but they will be intense and flavourful on the inside.
Any blanched or soft vegetables like aubergines, courgettes, chillies, fennel bulbs, runner beans and spring onions can all be placed directly on the medium-hot coals or on a grate. Turn them frequently and make sure the coals aren’t too hot. If the vegetables are charring too quickly, you can always raise the grate or spread out the coals to cool the temperature down a bit. They will take about 15–30 minutes to cook, depending on the heat. Prick the vegetables with a skewer to check they are soft enough to eat.
Serve whole for people to help themselves or cut the vegetables into slices and accompany with the chimichurri sauce on the side.
*Any unused chimichurri can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge, where it will keep for up to 2 weeks.
By TOM HUNT
Tom's manifesto, 'Root to Fruit' demonstrates how we can all become part of the solution, supporting a delicious, biodiverse and regenerative food system, giving us the skills and knowledge to shop, eat and cook sustainably, whilst eating healthier, better-tasting food for no extra cost.