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Green thoughts

10 October 2014

By Simon Walsh


ONE of Barbara Pym's churchgoing ladies met the objection to Ordinary Time's relentless green with pragmatism, on the basis that there are numerous festivals to cheer us on our way. Harvest is upon us, too, and this reminder of our need for thanksgiving is helpful. Maybe these seasonal offerings can assist.

This Lamb and bean casserole is a one-pot wonder, and can easily be scaled up to feed more.

1.5kg (3 lb) lamb shoulder
1 onion, sliced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 leeks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small tin anchovy fillets, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato purée
2 tablespoons flour
1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g/14 oz)
1 tin baked beans (400g/14 oz)
1 tin white flageolet beans  (400g/14 oz)
Worcestershire sauce
handful of picked, crushed thyme

In a large casserole dish, brown the lamb joint (I used one on the bone) all over in a little oil. Remove to a side plate, add more oil to the pan, and soften the onion, carrots, and celery. Add the leeks and garlic, and fry off for another couple of minutes. Add the anchovies with their oil, and tomato puree, then stir in the flour. Let this cook through for a minute, then add the tomatoes and both beans, along with the tin of water. Add a further tinful of water, and bring everything to the boil, stirring all the time. Add in a splash of Worcestershire sauce, seasoning, and the thyme, and return the meat to the pan also.

Place it in the oven at 180°C/ 350°F/Gas 4 for at least two hours. Serve it with some crusty bread.

Something lighter brings together pears and cobnuts for a Pear and blue cheese salad. Endives are in season, but iceberg or Baby Gem lettuce can also work, with walnuts a fine alternative to cobnuts. Creamy Roquefort is best.

1 large iceberg/2-3 endive or Baby Gem
4 celery stalks, chopped
125g (4 oz) cobnuts (shelled  weight)
Half a bunch of parsley, roughly  chopped
125g (4 oz) Roquefort cheese,  cubed
4 pears, peeled and de-cored
2 tablespoons red wine or cider  vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black  pepper

De-stalk the lettuce and wash the leaves. Scatter over it the celery, cobnuts, and parsley, then crumble the cheese over it. Remove the woody triangle of core from the pears, then chunk into thumb-size pieces and arrange over the top.

Whisk together the vinegar and mustard with the seasoning, then slowly whisk in the sesame and sunflower oils. Before serving, whisk up the dressing again to remix, and pour over the salad.

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