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What to do with a veg box

October 3, 2012

Getting a veg box delivery can be just like receiving a present…

Organic veg from Greenheart

Organic fruit and vegetables from Greenheart

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.

Grilled aubergines

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).

Beetroot muhamarra

So here’s what I did with my veg box.

I made:

  • 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.

Grilled peppers

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 elena@greenheartuae.com www.greenheartuae.com

Ripe Farm Shop, food and craft markets, online ordering, home delivery of veg boxes.
Email: info@ripeme.com Ripe Office: 04 380 7602 Ripe Shop: 04 370 0441 www.ripeme.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 http://bakerandspiceme.com/index.html

Blue Planet, Green People – BS4, Al Seef 2, Cluster U, Jumeirah Lake Towers Tel: 04 369 5209 http://www.blueplanetgreenpeople.com 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 http://www.organicfoodsandcafe.com/

Union Coop – reasonably priced, local, organic vegetables in limited supply (usually sold out by midday). Ten branches in Dubai http://www.ucs.ae/home.aspx

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.

Greenheart veg box

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.

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?

29 Comments
  1. October 3, 2012 6:50 am

    Sally, that’s like opening a treasure chest!! I’m glad you found such good uses for almost all of it. I’d love to grow okra now that you mention it, but no-one in the family will eat it! :)

    • October 3, 2012 10:02 pm

      Yes it is like treasure – but you know how I feel about okra…:)

  2. October 3, 2012 7:53 am

    I was so happy to find the Ripe Store for three reasons: 1) I was never able to get up early enough on Saturday to get to the Dubai Garden Center before they sold out; 2) I had a lot of trouble with Ripe’s delivery system to the Marina and 3) with only me and my husband eating even a small box was just way too much food. So now, I can go to the Ripe Store – select just the produce we need, purchase the yummy bread next door and enjoy cooking my favorite meals. Life in Dubai is good! PS loved your menu!

  3. October 3, 2012 8:42 am

    Sally the beetroot walnut hummus is a fab idea…The pics of the fresh produce are gorgeous…Have been meaning to chk out Ripe and a couple of the other places as well.Thanks for informative post:))

    • October 3, 2012 10:03 pm

      Our family shop is completely transformed since there have been organic, local options. I find it saves us money too.

  4. October 3, 2012 10:09 am

    What gorgeous vegetables! If I received such a box, I’d feel blessed too.

    This beetroot hummus must taste amazing! Something I should make this autumn/winter.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    • October 3, 2012 10:03 pm

      You are always so generous with your comments Rosa – really appreciated.

  5. October 3, 2012 11:35 am

    Sally, we would love to get in touch with Elena for our own greenheart box. We relish trips to Baker and Spice’s Farmer’s Market on the Terrace and perhaps the thing we are most excited about winter in the Middle East is the prime farming season. Love what you did with your box!

  6. October 3, 2012 11:53 am

    Excellent & well creative recipes that you have made! I espcially love that beetroot & walnut hummus! Yummy yum!

    • October 3, 2012 10:04 pm

      Thanks Sophie – I’ll be making that beetroot dip again…very moreish.

  7. October 3, 2012 1:10 pm

    what a brilliant veg box! I used to get them but I could never finish them before they went off! your recipes look incredible!

    • October 3, 2012 10:04 pm

      It does take a bit of planning – but I hate throwing food away (even though I have a Bokashi).

  8. October 3, 2012 2:37 pm

    I’ve just resumed my weekly vegetable box delivery. I cancelled it a while ago because I found I was up to my neck in potatoes and carrots. But my supplier has just introduced a potato-free seasonal box, which is much more exciting.

    • October 3, 2012 10:05 pm

      It’s funny how different we all are – lots of potatoes and carrots would be no problem in our house. And we can never have enough tomatoes…

  9. October 3, 2012 11:03 pm

    What a great post and as always amazing photos sally x Love that beetroot and walnut hummus

  10. kellieanderson permalink
    October 4, 2012 12:19 am

    We get a big organic box sent to the cancer support centre where I work as a cancer nutritionist & I absolutely love making up soups, smoothies & juices with the fairly serendipitous produce. It might get tougher to be as enthusiastic in the dead of winter though. I hope your box delivery works out. They are so good for freshness, seasonality, nutrients and the local growers. Great post, Sally

  11. October 4, 2012 10:38 am

    Hey Sally, I’ve tried Blue Planet Green People a few times. It’s quite good – you order by 8pm every Monday and Wednesday is when it comes in. There is home delivery, but we’ve just gone to pick it up since it’s close by. Vegetables are good – sometimes if they don’t have a good batch that week, they don’t give it, rather than dumping a bad batch on us, so that’s good.
    BPGP is on the lake level btw…I got lost the first time. It’s got a lot of organic stuff in-house like chocolate, and VERY GOOD chutneys.

  12. October 4, 2012 10:46 pm

    Wow, that’s a magnificent veg box and some inspired thinking to produce some great things to eat. I don’t get a veg box as I have my own garden to hand but it’s still an exciting prospect to go out and find what’s there. Last night I managed to find some tiny swedes languishing under the gone to seed neighbours and they made a welcome addition to the celery, onions, carrots and parsnips to make what I call garden soup. Although growing veg has it’s ups and downs, especially when the mice eat your seeds, but it still thrills me to see food on the table that’s come from just a few feet away. When my garden fails me completely I head over the hill to a farm store which is a great alternative. You are very lucky to have so many options to choose from as there isn’t that much choice in NZ.

  13. Dima Sharif permalink
    October 5, 2012 9:56 am

    I had left a comment but have no idea where it went lol!!
    Well here it goes again..
    Thank you Sally for this round up of suppliers. While I totally love and enjoy Baker&Spice farmers market in Marina, practically right under my house, it is very good to know of home delivery options, very convenient.
    Penned down all contacts lol

  14. October 7, 2012 3:42 pm

    That beetroot hommous look so cool

  15. October 11, 2012 11:40 pm

    So good to know that even in Dubai you can have organic vegetables ! I wondered if there were veggies at all . It has been nice to meet you in London . XX

  16. October 11, 2012 11:42 pm

    So good to know that even in Dubai you can find organic vegetables . I wondered if there were any veg at all . It has been nice to meet you in London .XX

  17. October 13, 2012 6:05 pm

    Ooooh, I suspect if I got such lovely things in my veg box I would subscribe again, but I always ended up with a surfeit of potatoes, carrots and turnips (yes, I’m in Scotland). And I’ll definitely be trying your beetroot and walnut dip – two of my favourite things.

    • Sally permalink*
      October 13, 2012 6:42 pm

      The carrots ran out before I got to the market this week! I suppose we all want what we can’t get :)

  18. October 15, 2012 8:16 pm

    I’ve never had a veg box but something similar happens when I go out in the garden and see what’s there, then wonder how can I fix that for our next meal.

    I wonder about a raw beet hummus mixture.

  19. January 29, 2014 6:54 pm

    what a great post…and what a PHENOMENAL haul!

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