Making the best of the Scottish larder

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2015 is the Year of Food and Drink in Scotland, so what better time to enjoy the abundance of fresh and tasty food this country has to offer - everything from meat and fish to dairy, fruit and vegetables.

Finding locally sourced food that’s in season shouldn’t be difficult, given what’s available in Scotland, but for those who aren’t sure just where to go, the Scottish Government has launched Happier Mealtimes, an initiative intended to show the nation how to find and prepare it.

Sourcing the best for the right price is easier than you think. Firstly, get to know your local greengrocers, fishmongers and farmers’ markets, as well as the local supermarkets. Knowing what’s in season helps, as well as knowing what’s available locally - often the lack of transportation costs can mean lower prices, and the less distance food has to travel, the better it tastes!

Seamus MacInnes is the owner of Café Gandolfi and Gandolfi Fish, two institutions in Glasgow. Seamus is a firm believer in serving up local, tasty, in-season dishes at his two restaurants. Seamus believes in using local suppliers when sourcing ingredients for his delicious menu. He says: “We have a great supplier in Arran, and he produces everything that we use. Whatever he grows, we use it, so it’s automatically seasonal.

“It’s almost thinking about the way your mum or granny would have cooked – when it was in season, they used it. They didn’t have strawberries all year round! There’s also so much wonderful produce grown in Scotland that there’s no reason to not choose foods from our natural larder.”

Seamus also thinks that eating local and in season foods doesn’t have to be expensive. He recommends that people do their homework before hitting the shops – go on to the Greener Scotland website for example to look for what’s in season, available in Scotland and check out recipes online.

For more tips and further information on the importance of finding and eating locally sourced, in season food and how to prepare it, visit: www.www.greenerscotland.org/eat-greener-avoid-waste

Spiced Root Vegetable Tagine

Great served as a healthy mid-week dinner or a relaxed weekend lunch. Serves 6. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

• 2 medium carrots, 2 medium parsnips, 1/2 celeriac or turnip, 1/2 medium local winter squash, 150g tinned chickpeas (drained and rinsed)

• 100ml cold water

• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

• 4 star anise (optional), 2 cinnamon sticks (optional). 2 bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon hot paprika, 1 small pinch dried chilli flakes, 1 pinch black pepper, Handful of chopped fresh coriander

• 2 tablespoons low fat natural yoghurt

• Lemon wedges to serve

1. Heat oven to 190°C.

2. Prepare all your vegetables, ensuring they are all chopped into medium sized cubes roughly the same size so they cook at the same rate.

3. Place all the vegetables (excluding the squash), oil, spices (star anise, cinnamon, ground ginger, ground turmeric, paprika, chilli flakes) bay leaves, a tablespoon of cold water and a little salt and pepper into a heavy based casserole dish with a lid.

4. Cook in a preheated oven at 190°C for 10 minutes.

5. Take the casserole dish out of the oven. Add the chopped squash and a little more cold water (around 1 tablespoon). Cook for another 30 minutes or so until the vegetables are just tender.

6. Add the drained chickpeas along with 50ml water and cook for a further 10 minutes in the oven.

7. Remove from the oven, give it a good stir.

8. Serve in large bowls topped with a spoonful of low fat natural yoghurt and freshly chopped coriander with a wedge of lemon