150g young nettle tops
125g packed lemon jelly crystals
2 ‘Purple Sun’ carrots, about 20cm long
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
250g cream cheese
225g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp mixed spice
410g evaporated milk, chilled in the fridge for at least 6 hours
Sceptical about new-fangled coloured varieties?
Then you will love purple carrots, which actually predate the ‘proper’ orange varieties by centuries. They are also sweeter, contain fewer bitter chemicals and come packed with up to twice the nutritious carotene and a hefty dose of anthocyanins. Not a bad trade-off, in my opinion. They are incredible roasted, grated in salads or stir-fried. Do not boil them, though, as these purple pigments are water-soluble, meaning much of the colour and nutritional value will leach out if cooked this way.
I prefer to sidestep the commonly available ‘Purple Haze’ (which is actually just plain orange at its core) and go for the almost black ‘Purple Sun’, which is inked with maroon through and through, getting increasingly dark as the carrot matures. Hunt out seeds online and thank me come harvest time.
Over the last few years ethnobotanist James Wong’s scientific and labour-saving approach to edible gardening has garnered critical acclaim, landing him his own BBC series Grow Your Own Drugs and publishing contracts for several books. Here we showcase James’ flair for combining the unusual with three of our favourite recipes with a difference from the book...
RHS Grow For Flavour by James Wong is published by Mitchell Beazley and is available, for £20, from www.octopusbooks.co.uk
Photographs: Jason Ingram
Recipes: James Wong
Recipes Type: Salads