Colourful, seasonal and fresh – a trip to Calcott Hall Farm Shop

This morning when I got up, I wrote a shopping list and had in mind to cycle into town knowing that I would need to go to the supermarket to get at least some of the things on my list. In Witham we’re lucky to have two butchers’, one of which – Holt’s – also has a great deli counter and some fresh fruit and veg, but it’s hard to avoid going to Tesco or Morrisons to finish off your shop. Then, in a moment of defiance (or inspiration!), I changed plans and headed for Calcott Hall Farm Shop (@calcotthall) in Brentwood – take that supermarkets!

Firstly, the shop looks great. Before you even get inside there are plants, including potted herbs, plus all the barbeque essentials. Inside there is a really good range of produce and much of it is produced locally, either on the farm or from regional suppliers. They have a map on their website to show where their suppliers are based – predominantly in East Anglia.

Calcott Hall Farm Shop

Calcott Hall Farm Shop

Inside they have loads of store cupboard ingredients (I picked up a Garden of Suffolk rhubarb and ginger jam and a barbeque sauce from the wonderful Stokes Sauces (@StokesSauces) – also from Suffolk). There is also a butcher’s counter, dairy, fresh bread, and then of course, the fruit and vegetables, which is where I got most inspired/carried away (delete as appropriate).  Everything was so colourful and tempting, and extremely fresh. In the end I think I showed some degree of restraint, but still came away with a long list of items including home grown strawberries, new potatoes, peas, rainbow chard and courgettes, as well as some exciting (and delicious) doughnut peaches.

Delicious doughnut peaches

Delicious doughnut peaches

Local store cupboard treats from Garden of Suffolk and Stokes

Local store cupboard treats from Garden of Suffolk and Stokes

When I got home I was buzzing with ideas for what to cook. Instead of going shopping and blindly ticking off the things on my list, I had shopped based on what looked good and what I thought would go together – worrying about how could come later. It was really refreshing and I’m pleased to say that the resulting lunch was a total winner, so I thought I’d share what I did…

Butter beans with rainbow chard, feta and beetroot and chive pesto

Butter beans with rainbow chard, feta and beetroot and chive pesto

Butter beans with rainbow chard, feta and beetroot and chive pesto

Serves 1
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 stick celery – cut into 1cm pieces
1 large clove garlic – finely chopped
6 sprigs fresh coriander, stalks and leaves (separately) – chopped
200g tinned butter beans – drained
1 heaped tsp sumac
6 cherry tomatoes – halved
6 rainbow chard leaves (a range of colours for optimum prettiness)
50g feta – chopped into 1cm cubes
A few dollops of Well seasoned Beetroot and chive pesto to finish

Heat the rapeseed oil in a large, wide-based pan over a medium heat before adding the chopped celery. Once the celery has started to soften add the garlic and the chopped up stalks from the coriander. Stir together and allow the garlic to soften, but not to brown.

Add the butter beans, squashing them slightly with a spatula so that they soak up the flavours from the pan. Add the sumac and season with salt and black pepper, then stir to coat everything in the pan. Once everything’s mingled, add the tomatoes and allow it all to heat through.

After a couple of minutes, move the contents over to one side of the pan to make room for the chard – you really just want to wilt the chard, which should only take a few minutes. Once this has happened, dish up the chard, leaving the remaining ingredients in the pan. Add the feta to the pan and stir briefly to mix it in and melt slightly, before serving alongside the chard. I added a few dollops of some Beetroot and Chive pesto, which I found at Calcott Hall. It’s made by Well Seasoned (@seasonalfood) who are based in Danbury, just outside of Chelmsford.

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