Like many of my fellow food bloggers, I’ve been taking part in the #OrganicUnboxed challenge this last few weeks. The idea of the challenge is simple. Organic UK is sending bloggers a big mystery box of organic produce to see what easy, every day dishes they might come up with to inspire more people to switch to organic. In my excitement I failed miserably to get a picture of the organic goodies being unboxed. Which is why I’ve brought you a gratuitous shot of our cat Tango in the box instead. Now, hasn’t that brightened your day?
So why organic? I try to buy as much organic produce as I can in my weekly, although I have to admit I just couldn’t afford to go organic completely. The price difference is a factor, but then you have to ask yourself what price do you put on our environment and animal welfare? Here are a few facts from Organic UK to consider:
- Organic crops are exposed to fewer pesticides
- Organic livestock (chicken, beef, lamb, pork and so on) are truly free range, meaning they have more space to roam and enjoy high welfare standards
- Organic dairy cows are free range and pasture fed which really comes through in the taste
- Organic farming is great for farmers and more environmentally friendly
- Recent research has shown that organic crops are up to 60% higher in a number of key antioxidants and that both organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
I totally get that for many of us, buying organic all the time just isn’t in our means. But where we can swap, we really should.
But back to the matters in hand. What organic delights did my box contain? At least I did remember to take photographs of the contents before I started scoffing the lot…
Rather a lovely selection, wouldn’t you agree?
Clearly the chocolate and gin caught my eye first. But then my attention turned to the selection of organic meat from The Well Hung Meat Company, particularly the beef feather steak. It’s a cut I don’t use often, although having tried it in this dish, I think I’ll be using it rather a lot now. It’s a fairly economic cut, much cheaper than you’re average steak, making it an ideal cut if you are going organic and looking for really good value. It comes from the shoulder-blade, so has been well worked and therefore is great slow cooked in casseroles or curries. However I read it’s also great for flash frying, so I wondered whether I could incorporate it into a quick and easy pasta dish.
From my organic box of delights, I partnered my feather steak with the penne pasta, Savoy cabbage, red onion, garlic and olive oil. I have this thing for cabbage and caraway, so the caraway came out of the store cupboard, and I thought the dish could do with a little kick too, so out came the dried chilli flakes too.
I have to say my concoction worked an absolute treat. My family loves pasta in all guises anyway, but I think I may have just invented a new family favourite, all set to become a speedy, mid-week regular. It only took around 20 minutes to pull together, and much of that was spent trimming the feather steak – there are some sinewy bits to this cut you don’t want hanging around when you’re cooking it fast. I fried the beef for perhaps two to three minutes, after cooking the onion and cabbage, and it was absolutely perfect. Moist with a little chewiness, and a deep satisfying flavour.
We’ve been having a splendid time working our way through our organic food parcel and have also made some delicious lamb meat balls and a wonderful beetroot and apple dip. I’ll be bringing you those recipes soon, but for now here’s my…
Chilli beef pasta with Savoy cabbage and caraway
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
½ Savoy cabbage, carefully washed, cored and shredded
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
½ tsp caraway seeds
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
300g beef feather steak, finely sliced
salt and pepper to taste
300g dried penne (500g if using fresh)
Gently heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion until translucent.
Add the cabbage, garlic, caraway and chilli flakes and fry, stirring often, until the cabbage just loses its rawness.
Meanwhile, put a large saucepan of salted water onto boil and cook the penne as per the packet instructions.
Move the contents of the frying pan to one side to make space for the steak. Turn up the heat slightly, add the meat to the pan and fry quickly until it has just lost its pinkness.
Season with salt and pepper. Add the pasta to the cabbage and beef and combine well, drizzling with a little more olive oil if you like to loosen it all up. And dig in!
Disclosure: we were supplied with a complimentary box of ingredients by Organic UK in order to take part in the #OrganicUnboxed challenge. As always all views expressed are mine – and my family’s.