When you write a blog for long enough, people start sending you emails offering to write a guest post promoting the product they represent, or allowing you to write a post singing the praises of said product. Often the product isn’t something you have ever bought, used, or possibly even heard of before. So generally, I’ve politely turned down such offers.
Turns out though, that if you wait long enough, there are some great opportunities to sample, and write about, products. Take Eco Green Store for example… an online retailer stocking a whole range of ethical and organic ingredients.
The Eco Green story began when a “down to earth, normal guy” was finding it difficult to buy specialist dietary products for his daughter, who has a peanut allergy. With some business experience and willing to learn all the skills that go along with online retail… things like accountancy and marketing, he set up Eco Green Store. And now, four years after it first opened its virtual doors, the store stocks around 12,000 products. Many of the products are Fairtrade and, in keeping with the original reason for opening the store, there are plenty of options for those whose shopping lists include gluten or dairy free ingredients. The thing I really liked about Eco Green Store is that it sells things that would normally be in my shopping trolley – my sourdough starter is regularly fed with Doves Farm bread flour because it’s organic, and I started buying Crazy Jack dried apricots years ago when the kids were little because our health visitor told me that organic dried fruit was best for them.
I was lucky enough to be offered a boxful of ingredients from Eco Green Store. I chose from the range of Suma products on the website – and there was lots to choose from. The box arrived on a warm, dry day. Despite the impression I might give on the blog, I am really a fair weather gardener. So when the sun’s shining, I’d much rather be working in the garden than the kitchen, and the food that’s put on the table at tea time gets much simpler. But with good ingredients, even the simplest, quickest meals can be very good. A bowl of salad leaves and herbs from the garden, some Ticklemore goat’s cheese from our local deli, and pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes from the Eco Green Store made a filling salad, served with fresh, crusty wholemeal bread and some homemade dips.
The best looking leaves in the veggie patch at the moment are the red and green lettuces, spinach, mizuna, parsley and dill. These went well with the firm, mild goat’s cheese, oily tomatoes and crunchy toasted pine nuts. I also made a simple dressing using some Suma olive oil and Balsamic vinegar that came in the box from Eco Green Store. The dressing was meant for the salad, but we quickly discovered it was also very good for dunking pieces of bread in… we’ll be making this again. To balance the vinegar, I used an Australian eucalyptus honey in the dressing. I know it’s about as unlocal as food gets, but it has a good, rich honey flavour without being too sweet. If anyone who knows more about honey than I do can recommend something similar that I could get from bees feeding on UK flowers, then I’d love to hear from you.
Goat’s cheese & pine nut salad with a simple Balsamic dressing
For the dressing –
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
For the salad –
35g pine nuts
2 good handfuls of mixed fresh salad leaves
75g Ticklemore cheese, cubed
1 tbsp finely chopped sun dried tomatoes – the ones from a jar in oil
Make the dressing by whisking together the oil, vinegar and honey in a small bowl. Season to taste and leave to one side until needed.
Toasts the pine nuts in a dry pan over a medium heat, shaking the pan from time to time. Keep an eye on them and remove the pan from the heat when the pine nuts start to turn a light golden brown. Tip the pine nuts onto a plate and leave to cool.
Wash and dry the salad leaves. Tear any large leaves into manageable pieces, and chop any herbs you’re using, then mix the leaves together and put in the bottom of a salad bowl. Sprinkle the cheese, tomatoes and pine nuts evenly over the leaves.
Serve the salad with the bowl of dressing at the side so that everyone can add as much as they want… or dunk some bread in it.
Many thanks to Eco Green Store for providing the ingredients for this late summer salad.