Even if you’re travelling, you can still grow your own tasty flavours in your camper. Catherine Milford finds some ingredients that you can simply pop in a pot, grow with water, and eat whenever you like.
This tasty green plant has grown in New Zealand’s streams and ditches for many years, but only in recent years has it been grown commercially. If you’re good at foraging and you know the water source, there’s nothing better than picking your own and serving a good helping along with whatever fish you might have caught that day; that’s Kiwi food at its finest. Watercress has a bright, peppery flavour, somewhere in between mustard seeds and wasabi (which also grows in the same places, often in the South Island). More mature plants have a slightly bitter flavour. Being quite tart, it goes beautifully with fish, especially trout and salmon, but it’s also good with fatty or salty foods. Try serving it with a lamb chop and some mashed kumara or in a salad with bacon bits. If you have a blender (or you love chopping), it makes a great pesto when ground up with pine nuts, garlic, and lemon juice.
Just in thyme
Wonderfully aromatic and a natural antiseptic to boot, thyme is a great herb to grow on the road. Full of Vitamin C and good for your immune system, thyme is a gorgeous herb to chuck into all kinds of dishes, and you can keep it in a small pot without it going mayhem and taking over the kitchen space. Like watercress, it’s easy to grow in water; try recycling a water bottle by chopping off the top half and filling the bottom with water. Using sharp scissors, take a few cuttings of thyme that are about 15cm long. Clip the stems below the leaf bud, strip the bottom leaves off (you don’t want leaves in the water or they will rot), and put them in a sunny spot. All you need to do then is change the water every week, and help yourself to thyme on your pizza, bread, tomato sauce – however you like.
Top tip: Travelling? Cover the top of your container with cling film and poke the greens through it. Alternatively, put plants in a mason jar and make a small hole in the lid.
Pantry staple: tomato sauce
Yes, the kids may have left home and taken with them their bottle-a-week tomato sauce habit, but it’s still a fantastic addition to your RV. A cup of tomato sauce provides a quarter of your daily Vitamin A and half your daily Vitamin C requirement. Naturally, it’s an easy ingredient to throw into a bowl of pasta (add some of your homegrown thyme to this to take it up a notch), but there are plenty of other uses, too. Pour a bit into your mince to add flavour, use it as a pizza base, or amp up a simple cheese-on-toast dish. Grill your bread on one side, then when you turn it over, spread the cooked side with tomato sauce and cover liberally with cheese. Yum.