Cultivating Harmony in the Central Highlands

“Laughter is brightest, in the place where food is”
– Irish Proverb

The Central Highlands Multicultural Festival embraces common values through the sharing of food, music and entertainment. Our plant.grow.share activities encourage the planting of seeds (in a home or communal garden), nurturing them so they grow, and sharing them as raw produce or in a meal with friends, family and neighbours.

Working with our “Good Neighbours” partners (social support agencies throughout the Central Highlands including Anglicare and UnitingCare Community), we distributed the following seeds to patrons in attendance at the 2015 festival.

Borlotti Beans
Borlotti beans, also known as cranberry beans or French horticultural beans, are off-white beans with red markings. Nutty in flavour with a creamy texture, borlotti beans are popular in Italian and Portuguese cuisine.

Borlotti beans get five stars for fiber.

Fancy an easy tomato and borlotti bean soup?

Coriander, also known as cilantro, Chinese parsley or dhania in the Indian subcontinent, is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae. Coriander is native to regions spanning from southern Europe and northern Africa to southwestern Asia.

Coriander is packed with potential health benefits that most people completely miss when they toss this garnish into the garbage after eating their meal. It has eleven components of essential oils, six types of acids (including ascorbic acid, better known as vitamin-C), minerals and vitamins and is used to treat skin inflammation and mouth ulcers, lower cholesterol, aid digestion, and reduce blood pressure, anaemia and osteoporosis.

In under five minutes, whip up some coriander pesto.

Italian Parsley
Parsley or garden parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a species of Petroselinum in the family Apiaceae, native to the central Mediterranean region (southern Italy, Algeria, and Tunisia), naturalized elsewhere in Europe, and widely cultivated as a herb, a spice, and a vegetable. Parsley is widely used in European, Middle Eastern, and American cooking.

Parsley is an excellent source of vitamins A and C.

Try this rigatoni with Italian sausage.

Kohlrabi is a German turnip which comes in white, pale green, and purple bulbs. They all have a creamy white interior. The leaves are edible (and loaded with iron); add them to a salad or sauté with garlic as you would mustard or beet greens.

This funky-looking vegetable is full of nutrients – Kohlrabi is a good source of fiber, vitamins C and B6, and potassium.

It can be eaten cooked or raw and our recipe pick is pork belly banh mi with pickled pears and kohlrabi.

Lollo Rossa Lettuce
Red Lollo Rosso lettuce is a classic Italian lettuce, with dark copper red fading to bright green, finely crinkled frilly leaves which are crisp, almost brittle when snapped.

A most beautiful lettuce and it’s an antioxidant superstar – we call it the Sophia Loren of lettuces.

These Vietnamese beef lettuce wraps are finger licking good.

Can you eat flowers we hear you ask? Yes, you can eat flowers! These sunny, wonderful little flowers originated in South America and were widely used by the Meso-Americans for urinary tract infections, kidney problems and for their general antibiotic action. The leaves were used to prevent scurvy and to supplement the daily diet and add flavor. The peppery leaves were very popular and the seeds were a prized delicacy. In fact, they were considered so important that no little home was without a nasturtium plant if they could avoid it. The plants are also so undemanding that they were perfect for the rocky soil of the Andes. In the 1600’s in England, Nasturtiums were a valued plant and were called Indian Cress (because of their similarity in flavor to Watercress). Wherever they have been introduced, these plants have quickly become a firm favourite because of their medicinal and culinary uses. Nasturtium leaves have a high concentration of Vitamin C and are also a natural antibiotic. Eating a couple of the peppery leaves at the onset of a cold can stop it dead in its tracks.

The gentle antibiotic reaction makes it ideal for treating minor colds and flu.

This delicious lemon tea served chilled is great way to hydrate and revitalise.

A Nigerian spice with a tart, lemony taste. Also known as bamia or ladies’ fingers, this vegetable is now also grown in the Northern Territory! A member of the cotton family, okra plants are easy to grow, appearing as pods inside beautiful pale yellow flowers with crimson centres. In fact, they are very decorative as plants. The young pods are sought after for Greek and Middle Eastern cuisines, while South East Asians prefer them larger and longer.

Eaten raw, okra contains large amounts of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A and iron. It is also a good source of soluble and insoluble fibre and vitamin B6 and folic acid, when cooked.

A good mango chutney or raita would go well with these okra and cauliflower pakora’s.

Pak Choy
This member of the cabbage family has a number of different names, including bok choy, horse’s ear, Chinese celery cabbage and white mustard cabbage. Its structure looks like a squat celery, with either white or very pale green short, chunky stalks and glossy, deep green leaves. The texture of both leaves and stalks is crisp, and the flavour is somewhere between mild cabbage and spinach. If very young it can be eaten raw in salads, but is best when briefly cooked.

It is very low in calories, is a stand out performer in aiding digestion and contains powerful antioxidants and phyto-nutrients (they help prevent disease and keep your body working properly).

For a speedy weeknight dinner, this honey chicken with pak choy is packed with flavour (pun intended).

San Marzano Tomato
San Marzano tomato, is a variety of plum tomato, considered by many chefs to be the best of its kind in the world. San Marzano tomatoes originate from the small town of San Marzano sul Sarno, near Naples, Italy, and were first grown in volcanic soil in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. One story goes that the first seed of this tomato came to Campania in 1770, as a gift from the Viceroyalty of Peru to the Kingdom of Naples, and that it was planted in the area of San Marzano sul Sarno.

Tomatoes ward off cancer as they contain a compound called lycopen, prevent DNA damage as they are loaded with essential anti-oxidants for instance vitamin C and Vitamin A and reduce your risk of heart disease with essential nutrients like niacin, foliate as well as vitamin B6.

A simple caprese salad is the best way to enjoy San Marzano tomatoes – bon appétit!

Wong Bok (Chinese Cabbage)
‘Wong Bok’ is a tender, sweet tasting, hearted-type of Chinese cabbage. Barrel-shaped, with crisp, pale green, tightly-wrapped leaves with a white mid-rib and a dense heart. The flavour of Chinese cabbages is more subtle and pleasant than our familiar European head cabbage. The water content is higher, they are crisper and more refreshing, and also less fibrous.

Wong bok is incredibly low in calories and an excellent source of folates.

We are loving these Thai pork rissoles with noodle salad.

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