One of the lovely things about growing our own food is being able to pop outside and literally pick our own meals. Breakfasts, lunches and dinners are built around whatever is flourishing or newly appearing in the veg beds, orchard and herb patch at any given point in time. Yesterday morning, before the rain came, we headed out into the garden to choose what to have for our weekend brunch.
At the moment the courgettes are in plentiful supply. We have just one plant this year, tucked in amongst the lettuces, borage and calendula. The organic F1 variety Tempra. It is such a reliable and heavy cropper, that we have found the plant easily provides enough courgettes to keep the two of us going (although we do plan on growing a few more next year). Yesterday there were two good-sized courgettes that were ready to harvest, and plenty more on the way.
On the other side of the veg plot are the nasturtiums. This year they seeded themselves and are merrily romping through the onion bed. They are a fantastic little plant to grow. Initially we introduced them as a companion plant for the vegetables, to attract pollinators and deter pests, but they offer so much more than that. Their frilly, lily pad-like leaves, sunny flowers, and plump seed pods are all edible. They have a wonderful peppery flavour, not dissimilar to watercress, which is generally strongest in the seed pods and mildest in the leaves. The bright and sizeable flowers have long, tubular ‘tails’ on them, which we’ve noticed tend to be a popular hang-out spot for little bugs, particularly the odd flea-beetle. This is a crunchy addition to meals that we prefer to avoid, so we usually pinch the ends off of before we eat them, or give them a good shake, to remove any lurkers. The nasturtiums are so prolific that we can pretty much harvest as much as we like – it seems only to spur them on to produce more growth.
The herbs too are flourishing. The oregano, in particular, is prolific and pops up in almost every flowerbed. We can pick huge bunches, seemingly without denting the supply at all. The garden mint is also growing well, safely contained within galvanised metal buckets on the patio, so that it can’t spread itself all over the garden.
Over in the orchard, the chickens are happily laying every day or two, giving us a constant supply of colourful eggs for the kitchen. Before we kept chickens ourselves, we had envisaged collecting the eggs as an early morning task that would come alongside letting the flock out for the day. On the contrary, our chickens prefer to lay between mid-morning and early afternoon, so we pick up the eggs in time for brunch on weekends and after work on weekdays.
Back inside, pot of coffee on the hob, we assembled our breakfast. An omelette, but not quite as we’ve known it before. Made with the freshly whisked eggs and spiked with the soft oregano leaves. Topped with the courgettes, thinly sliced and charred, plus some salty halloumi cheese. And finished with the nasturtiums, a squeeze of lemon and a scattering of mint leaves. A snapshot from the garden, in a skillet.
Herbed Omelette with Griddled Courgette, Halloumi, and Nasturtiums
- 1 small courgette
- 1/2 tbsp of sunflower oil
- sea salt and black pepper
- 3 slices of halloumi cheese
- a small wedge of lemon
- a few fresh garden mint leaves, finely chopped
- 2 medium chicken eggs
- a large splash of milk (about 40ml)
- 2 large sprigs fresh oregano, leaves picked and finely chopped
- a knob of unsalted butter
- a small handful of nasturtium flowers and young leaves
Thinly slice the courgette lengthways and toss with the sunflower oil and some salt and pepper. Fry the courgette slices alongside the halloumi for a couple of minutes on each side in a searing hot griddle pan, until everything is patterned with charred lines and cooked through. Then squeeze over the juice from the lemon wedge and scatter over the mint leaves.
Meanwhile, make the omelette. Whisk the eggs with the milk and a little salt and pepper, then stir in the fresh oregano leaves. Melt the butter in a skillet or frying pan and add the egg mixture. Leave to cook for a minute or two until the edges start to solidify, then fold the edges back into the centre of the pan using a pallet knife or fork and let the uncooked mixture fill the gaps they leave behind. Leave to cook through until just a little softness is left on top of the eggs.
Tumble the griddled courgette and halloumi onto one half of the omelette, scatter over the nasturtium leaves and flowers and then fold the other half of the omelette over the top. Serve immediately.