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This Is Northern New South Wales

Spring Loaded

When the new season kicks in we notice spring vegetables shoot up from the soil rising toward the sun from the dirty depths of the dormant winter. If we were to truly eat according to the seasons, we would be dining on all the young shoots and flowers including zucchini flowers, nettles, dandelion leaves, germinated alfalfa and other sprouts, watercress, sorrel, cereals and legumes.

As we transition from spring into summer our focus shifts toward light and colourful fruit and vegetables which usually contain more water so as to keep us hydrated in the heat. These foods in turn require less cooking such as grilling sautéing and steaming; and most can be enjoyed raw – but not just yet.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the neighbouring Tweed Valley and was recently delighted to meet John Cutts (pictured), an artisan organic farmer who grows an abundance of produce on his farm just past Tropical Food World. Two days a week he sells produce straight from his truck around the Tweed Valley and Coast. John happily supplies the upper end of the restaurant trade including Fins, Rockpool and Ecco, and would have to be one of the nicest suppliers I have ever come across – not to mention the quality of his produce. He is also responsible for introducing Cavolo Nero (black kale) into Australia.

John grows King Edward potatoes but not just one size, he grades them into five different sizes depending on his clients’ menus. A box of zucchini flowers he delivered to the kitchen door were quite possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and am thrilled I can share this recipe with you as it took a few trials to work out what would do them the most justice.

So buckle up and hit the Honesty Box path with a pocketful of coin and see what nature’s pantry has dished you up this month. Now for some recipes!

Zucchini Flowers with cashew cheese
12 freshly picked zucchini flowers, wiped over; stamens carefully removed.
1 ¼ cups cashew cheese (depending on the size of the flower)
1 teaspoon macadamia nut oil

•    Preheat oven to 170 C. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper
•    Using a piping bag, pipe cashew cheese into each flower. Do not over fill
•    Place filled flowers on the baking tray and brush lightly with a little oil
•    Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden and flower stems cooked through

Basil, Lemon & Olive Gremolata
This is my variation of a classic Milanese gremolata; a chopped herb condiment originating in Milan, which always includes grated lemon peel.  Many recipes include parsley, mint and garlic. It’s great with most things especially lightly seared kingfish, bream or gold band snapper, and not too shabby with a well brought up roast chook. Good as an accompaniment to an antipasto or to trick up brown rice or even lentils. Also good with osso buco. Should keep for about a month if you don’t scoff it all in one go! This gremolata is the bomb!

1 cup raw cashews, 
½ cup pepitas/pumpkin seeds
, 1/3 cup pitted organic green olives 
* Buy the local ones from Summerland olives, Casino – available at Farmers’ market
, 2 bunches basil, trimmed, rinsed and patted dry
, Zest of 1 organic lemon
, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 
¼ -1/4 cup extra fabulous organic olive oil – enough oil to combine

•    In a food processor, blitz all ingredients except the olive oil for about 30 seconds
•    Slowly add the olive oil while pulsing until you get a good crumble-like texture
•    Don’t over process it or you’ll end up with “Hey Pesto”!

Words and Recipes by Samantha Gowing of Food Heath Wealth.