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Grow your own

Antony has been growing his own produce way before it was a cool thing to do…

With everyone banging on about the hidden nasties that lurk in the every day food you buy, it makes sense to get your hands dirty and grow your own. And if you think you need acres of garden before you start, you don’t.
If we get down to basics, growing your own herbs simply requires a window sill and a small pot, or if you do have a garden, you can mark out a small corner and make it your veg patch. There is nothing more satisfying than serving up fresh food, that you have lovingly cultivated yourself.

Antony’s been growing his own produce since way before it was fashionable to be ‘organic’ and his restaurants reap the benefits of his 2 x 4-acre plots which yield everything from fresh herbs to potatoes, from tomatoes to radishes and crisp, green salad. He only uses what’s in season so it’s as fresh as when he pulled it out of the soil.

Here are three of Antony’s recipes which, if you do grow your own you’ll be able to taste the freshness in every delicious mouthful. And if you don’t, then try the recipes anyway and promise yourself you’ll grow your own next year.

Herb soup
serves 4 50g unsalted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 potato, peeled and diced
4tbsp chopped lovage leaves
900ml vegetable stock
2tbsp tarragon leaves
1 bunch dill, large stems removed
1⁄2 bunch flat parsley, large stems removed
Salt and ground black pepper Heat the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. When the butter is frothing add the onion, garlic and bay leaf and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the potato and lovage leaves. (If no lovage is available use celery leaves.) Toss to combine, then add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the potato is cooked. During the last 2 minutes add the herbs. Transfer the soup to a liquidiser or food processor and blend for 30 seconds. Return the soup to the saucepan and heat through. Season to taste. Kids’ fave

Quick tomato sauce

Some children aren’t all that fond of raw tomatoes so how can you get them to eat this nutritious food? Disguise it in a sauce, that’s how!

Sweat 1 finely chopped onion in olive oil with 2 crushed garlic cloves for 8 minutes. Add 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes in tomato sauce with 85g of chopped sun-dried tomatoes and a dozen oregano leaves. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes until thickened. If desired, fold in 2tsp of pesto just before serving and give plenty of freshly grated Parmesan. Herby runner beans
serves 4 55g unsalted butter
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic
1tsp finely chopped sage
450g runner beans, stringed and sliced with a bean slicer
2tbsp finely chopped spring onion
1tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
2tsp lemon juice
Salt and ground black pepper Over a low heat warm the butter and oil with the whole garlic cloves and the sage. Cover and cook very gently for 20-25 minutes until the garlic is pale golden and cooked through. Do not allow the butter and oil to burn. Mash the garlic with the back of a fork to a smooth paste with the oil and sage. Some 10 minutes before the garlic has finished cooking, cook the sliced runner beans in boiling salted water until tender (about 6-8 minutes). Drain and add to the garlic paste. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan, season to taste, then toss all together.

I love growing my own produce and we grow all the herbs as well. You pay a fortune for them in the supermarket, but they’re so easy to cultivate yourself

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