What to do with a veg box
Getting a veg box delivery can be just like receiving a present…
You delve in and explore the contents, revealing lots of surprises, planning in your head which flavours you are going to combine and the possibilities of delicious recipes. Or it can be like getting a gift of scent from a maiden aunt when you are child, the first warmth giving way to puzzlement about what on earth you are going to do with it (or in the case of a veg box, how on earth you are going to get your family to eat it!)
The feeling of excitement when the first organic farm shop opened in Dubai is still with me like it was yesterday. And it wasn’t just a scruffy shed with a few nobbly veg (although that would have done); it was light-filled and elegant with painted wooden troughs and woven bags. The scent of basil hit you as you walked through the door. It was elegant without losing sight of its roots i.e. the farm. People queued at the door every morning, eager to get the freshest and best pickings. By 3pm it often sold out of everything but herbs. And then suddenly it was gone; rumours abounded but there was silence. In that time the Baker & Spice market (which started around the same time) blossomed and became a permanent fixture during the growing season. Ripe stepped into the chasm left and took on veg box delivery and another thriving food market developed, followed by the Ripe shop (adjacent to the abandoned Nazwa store). Two years later we have choices of organic, fresh, local food that never seemed possible.
So what did happen to Elena of farm shop fame? In that time she has been quietly working with a farm and starting a veg box service. To date it has spread through word of mouth but a new website, under the name of Greenheart, is on the way. So I ordered a veg box as neither market has opened yet…and waited. There was little mix up with delivery but these are early days. It was evident that the vegetables and fruit had been picked that morning (although I received them at the end of the day).
So here’s what I did with my veg box.
- a rocket and lemon salad (cut lemon segments and add to the leaves with any juice, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt)
- roasted aubergine on the barbecue dressed with laban, finely chopped chilli, spring onions and mint
- a salad with mixed leaves, herbs, radish, spring onions and grilled courgette
- tabbouleh with parsley and mint
- roasted tomatoes (in foil on the barbecue) stirred into pasta
- grilled peppers marinated with garlic and olive oil (I pack into a jar and keep in the fridge; perfect on bruschetta)
- beetroot and walnut hummus (I added dill to the recipe and prefer to call it beetroot muhammara as it is more like the Syrian red pepper dip)
- a Christmas cake and added the few dates I had not eaten already
- melon juice
…and I gave the okra to a friend.
So over all, not enough to feed our family for a week, but lots to contribute to our five a day (the box cost 100 AED).
Organic veg options in Dubai:
Greenheart Organic Farms – weekly veg boxes from collection points and some home delivery. Tel: +971 (0)56 6407060 Email firstname.lastname@example.org www.greenheartuae.com
NB The Ripe market starts again this Saturday 6th October at the Courtyard, Al Quoz 9am – 1pm Map here
The Famers’ Market on the Terrace – outside Baker & Spice at Souk Al Bahar and Dubai Marina. Season usually starts in November and the market runs every Friday from about 9.30 am. Organic, local vegetables are on sale at Baker & Spice, Al Manzil at other times. Baker & Spice – Dukkan Al Manzil
Tel: +971 4 4279856
Blue Planet, Green People - BS4, Al Seef 2, Cluster U, Jumeirah Lake Towers Tel: 04 369 5209
Website claims online order and home delivery of customisable veg boxes and organic meat. I have not tried them out – let me know if you have.
Organic Foods and Cafe at two locations in Dubai (plus Abu Dhabi and Bahrain). Range of imported, organic fruit and vegetables plus a little local produce. Tel: + 971 4 4340577
Union Coop – reasonably priced, local, organic vegetables in limited supply (usually sold out by midday). Ten branches in Dubai
Unifrutti at Lafayette Gourmet – expanding range of imported, organic fruit and vegetables, more reasonably priced than you might imagine in Galleries Lafayette, Dubai Mall.
Spinneys and Choitram stock varying items too.
P.S. Only a few weeks to go until the Food Photography and Styling Workshop with Meeta at the gorgeous Miele Gallery. The workshop will include lots of hands-on assignments and one-to-one tuition with Meeta, a field trip to Atlantis,The Palm including some lovely treats. Our photos will be given an extra finesse as props are provided by Tavola plus there are lots of goodies including Toffee Princess and Lindt. There are a couple of places left if you get in quick.
Whether you live in Dubai or not, what do you like/dislike about veg boxes and do you have any tips on managing your meals from them?