There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch…

…but some lunches are more free than others. Having an allotment encourages me to be a bit more creative with using the vegetables we grow. We try to avoid buying any vegetables during the summer, although I have had to buy some tomatoes recently as ours are only just going red.

Through the winter months I love to make soups but at this time of year when harvests are abundant I enjoy making up salad lunches for work.

A lot of the time I’m using very similar ingredients because it’s what is available from the plot at the time, but modifying the dressing or adding a few herbs makes a big difference.

I generally use red wine vinegar and olive oil when making an oil/vinegar dressing. I have chilli-infused and oak-smoked olive oils. I also have a pumpkin oil, which perhaps surprisingly is green! Sometimes I pre-cook some of the ingredients – like beetroots and turnips – but other times I’ll use these raw. Occasionally I’ll prepare the night before but most of the time I’m not organised enough, so just make them up in a rush in the morning.

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(Click images in slider to view full-size. Note that anything that looks meaty is actually a vegetarian alternative.)

Chilled pan-fried courgettes are a delicious addition to a salad.

You have to quite severely brown them (which I am particularly good at) and they have a stronger flavour if left overnight – who doesn’t need to get rid of courgettes at this time of year?!


The shaped cucumbers are fun – I have small moulds (hearts and stars) which I place over the growing cucumbers.

We tried it on a courgette but the growing courgette was much stronger than the mould and burst through….


Later this month on Saturday 18 August is the Royal British Legion / Hungerford Allotment Holders Association annual Horticultural & Handicrafts Show. It’s been a tough year for growing so I don’t know how many entries there will be – I know that we won’t be able to exhibit as many items as we normally do.

Unfortunately there isn’t a ‘smallest carrot’ category, but there’s always a chance for the ‘funniest veg’ and longest runner bean…
You will find the list of classes to enter here. It includes some categories for children

Do come along – it’s not as daunting as some shows you may see on television. It’s normal veg grown by local gardeners.

If you don’t fancy exhibiting this year, why not come along and see the kind of competition you would be facing – or just come along to buy some of the exhibits at the auction in the evening.

It’s always a lot of fun.

Belinda Robinson

HAHA (Hungerford Allotment Holders Association)


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