Free food from the side of the road


SEASONAL TREAT This Autumn greens ovenbake is perfect for using ingredients which are fresh at this time of year.

The Cabots

Leeks and courgettes are in season. Leeks have always held an autumn significance for me; last of the summer crops before the growing slows down. Growers all around Ireland are also trying to use up their courgettes before they grow into humungous marrows. On the Moyhastin road, turning by Geoff Rose’s house, a friendly neighbour had placed a chair beside the road offering free courgettes to all interested passers-by. I duly obliged and we were half-way to a dinner. Autumn evenings have been coming on strong now and some hearty brown rice was called for. I also had some leeks from Chris Smith an organic grower from Clogher. How nice who some baked leeks with courgettes and garlic be (when I think of courgettes I think by default of garlic) mixed with some end of season tomatoes. Perhaps the fresh walnuts I had purchased the week before in the super Pax shop in Westport would go halfway towards an Autumn Umami flavour mix. A topping of breadcrumbs would add an attractive crunch to the oven dish.

Autumn greens bake
What you need:

  • 2 courgettes washed, topped, sliced in half lengthways, then into half-moons
  • 2-3 leeks trimmed, washed and cut lengthways into 3” lengths
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled and thinly chopped
  • 6-10 cherry tomatoes, whole
  • 4 tablespoons of cottage cheese
  • Handful fresh walnuts crushed
  • 1 big handful breadcrumbs
  • Dash of good oil
  • ½ tspn smoked paprika
  • Seasoning
  • 1 cup brown rice

What you do next:
I like to fry the courgette pieces and leek lengths first over medium heat in a pan with a good dash of oil. This softens them first and speeds up the oven roasting, looking for the sweetness of these beauties. No seasoning at this stage, it comes later. Fry for 4-5 minutes and then add chopped garlic, stir with wooden spoon for 2 minutes and remove from heat. Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius and place and oven/Pyrex dish in to preheat with a knob of butter. To make breadcrumbs we used two old pieces of bread toasted, and tried blitzing them in an upright blitzer we have for smoothies. It made breadcrumbs … but I don’t recommend it. Louis insisted on trying to open the tap at multiple opportunities!
A simple assemblage operation takes place by placing the oven dish on counter with melted butter, tipping in the courgette pieces, then attempting to create a layer of leek lengths. If your green mix is too dry add some butter knobs, oil, or even dash of water at this stage. Dollop on patches of the cottage cheese with a spoon, scatter cherry tomatoes over top. Add your preferred seasoning of sea salt and black pepper at this stage. Add the crushed walnuts and finally scatter the breadcrumbs all over dish. Place in the oven for approximately 15-20 mins until breadcrumbs are brown with all the juices bubbling below it. Cook your rice as per instruction. Serve with oven roast mix in the centre of plate and rice to one side, add a dash of Soy to the rice for that extra warming feeling to go with your nutty brown rice. Enjoy settling down to these winter evenings!

— Sandra

The Cabot family live and work in Lanmore, outside Westport. Fresh, seasonal foods are their passion, from country markets to growing, making and selling. They love cooking and eating at the kitchen table, while Redmond and Sandra are kept on their toes with children Penny and Louis. Here they share their favourite recipes.