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A couple of weeks ago we attended Scotland’s National Veg Summit.  A cross-sector collaboration bridging the gap between policymakers, farmers, caterers, and our communities, this summit was about making it easier for people to get veg in a Good Food Nation.

In a world grappling with nutritional challenges and environmental concerns, we are eager to foster a deeper understanding of how access to food, dietary choices and the broader ecosystem are interconnected. We were there to share the experiences of food insecurity of people we work with in Craigmillar. We also shared our experience as a catering company purchasing food.

We were discussing all the ways that different stakeholders can improve people’s access to veg. As always, we were pushing for transformative changes to the food system. Fundamental to our mission is ensuring that people not only have access to veg but also know what to do with it. 

The onus needs to be on our governments to make local and seasonal veg more affordable and accessible. They need to work with local farms to buy up and distribute surplus from producers, provide support for people running community allotments, create new housing with community gardens, subsidise fresh vegetables and regulate food producers to improve the quality of their produce and ensure sustainable farming practises.

Until then we’ll keep forging a path towards a more sustainable, nourished future, where vegetables are not just ingredients on a plate but integral components of a healthier society and planet. We’ve asked the EFS team to share their favourite veg recipes, based on Scotland’s top five favourite veggies. 

1. Olga’s Russian Potato Salad

  • 5 potatoes, peeled
  • 1 apple cored, cut into small cubes
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 6 large pickles, cut into cubes
  • 1 can peas, drained
  • ½ cup cubed fully cooked ham, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, or to taste (optional)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche, or to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes, bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes. Add carrots and whole eggs and continue boiling until potatoes and carrots are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and slightly cool mixture. Chop potatoes and carrot. Peel and chop eggs. Mix apple, potatoes, carrot, eggs, pickles, peas, ham, and dill together in a large bowl; stir in mayonnaise and creme fraiche until salad is evenly coated.

2. Kirsty’s Pickled Carrots with Fennel and Coriander

  • 1kg carrots, grated or julienned
  • 500ml white wine vinegar
  • 500ml sugar
  • 8tsp salt
  • 3tsp coriander seeds
  • 1tsp fennel seeds
  • 1tsp peppercorns

Put the carrots in a sterile glass jar. Warm the rest of the ingredients in a pan until the salt and sugar dissolves. Pour the vinegar mixture over the carrots. Seal the jar and leave to marinate for at least an hour, but the longer the better!

3. Joanna’s Miso Butter Roasted Onions

  • small onions
  • 100g unsalted butter, melted
  • 100g white or other miso paste
  • 1 litre warm waterHeat the oven to 500°F (240°C fan).

Halve the onions lengthwise, discarding the skin. Trim the tops.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, miso, and warm water until fully combined.
Place the onion halves, cut-side down and spaced apart, in a high-sided baking dish or pan and pour in the miso water. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes, then remove the foil and turn the onions over so they are cut-side up (take care to ensure they remain intact). Baste the onions very well, then return to the oven, uncovered, for another 45 to 50 minutes, basting every 10 minutes, until the onions are very soft, deeply browned on top, and the sauce has reduced to a gravy consistency.
Carefully transfer the onions to a platter, pouring the sauce over and around them, and serve at once.

4. Lucy’s Pea, Feta and Chilli Dip

  • 250g fresh or frozen green peas
  • 80g Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 30g mint leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 150ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon greek yoghurt
  • ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
  • The juice of one lemon or lime

Blitz all the ingredients together in a food processor or blender. If the consistency is too thick, add a little more olive oil, lemon juice, or water. Season to taste and serve with crispy new potatoes.

5. Andrew’s Super Crispy Smashed New Potatoes

  • 700g new potatoes
  • 1 tbsp salt (for boiling)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp salt (for sprinkling)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Bring a pot of water to the boil, add 1 tbsp salt. Cook potatoes until soft – 20 – 25 minutes. Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan. Drain the potatoes and let them dry in the colander for 5 minutes or so. Place on the tray then use a large fork or potato masher to squish them, keeping them in one piece. Leave on the tray to steam dry for 5 minutes. Drizzle with butter, then olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes or until deep golden and crispy. Do not flip and serve hot.