Hackney market with a Dalston line in surprises

Rambling down Ridley Rd basket 7 Sep 2012 © ∂å

EVERY WEEK I take £5 to Ridley Road market in Dalston, Hackney, London E8 2LH, to spend on seasonal food, and on Friday I tell you what I have chosen and publish a seasonal recipe.

Expenditure on any extra ingredients, eg, a litre of oil, will be recouped by usage over subsequent weeks. Some of the recipes will be frugal. They will all be tasty. Some meals will need additional ingredients. All will be vegetarian.

NB: this website uses metric measures but some Ridley Road traders cheekily sell in imperial, some in metric and some also by the bowl. They all give good value.

Above, this week’s £5 basket. Before all else, I should say, wash all vegetables to avoid gritty moments:


2 bunches radishes £1

7 long red peppers £1

Small white cabbage 50p

6 carrots 50p

4 pieces pak-choi 70p (80p1lb)

2 pineapples £1

Total £4.70


Equipment: small oven dish, small frying pan, paring and kitchen knife, bowl, grater, salad bowl, serving plates/dishes


Recipes (2): coleslaw and radishes the Italian way 

Easy to make and quick recipes


Serves 2 at dinner and often there is a little left over for a packed lunch.


1/4 white cabbage, shredded thinly with a large kitchen knife. My cabbage weighed 790g. For this dish 200g is ample.

1medium-size carrot, grated using the large-hole side.

Onion, peeled and sliced thinly. I still have a bunch of spring onions left over from last week and I have used 4 of them. 

Optionals: handful sultanas, sunflower seeds or grated hard cheese or, all 3.

Branded salad cream or mayonnaise or you can make your own mayonnaise. A classic vinaigrette gives a refreshing light taste on this salad mix if you fancy a change from the classic recipe.

Seasoning and a little extra mustard. I like English mustard in powder form, so I use a good pinch or a 1/4 teaspoon of ready-made.


Mix first 4 ingredients in a salad bowl and add seasoning. Mix the extra mustard into the salad dressing you choose. This is much cheaper than buying the small tubs of ready made coleslaw. Serve with my courgette salad of 31 August 2012 for contrasting colours.

Radishes the Italian way. Starter, serves 2Ridley070912dish2 Radishes the Italian way


1/2 bunch radishes. My bunches had 16 radishes in each.

Olive oil



Several years ago I stayed on an Italian friend’s family farm not far from Mantua and radishes were pulled from the earth, scrubbed and placed on a large plate with their tops intact. Put the oil in a small bowl and salt in another. Take a radish and dip it in the oil, then the salt, eat to the stem and chat with friends around the table. The Italians discussed the crispness, the hotness and the colour. I had a friend for dinner the day I tested this recipe and that is why, in the picture there are more radishes than half a bunch as stipulated above.

I noticed some plump, deep purple, soft figs in the market at 5 for a £1 and you can see them in my basket. I could not resist them. Over the last three weeks I have not spent my full £5 and in total have underspent by 85p. Here is a recipe using the figs.

Ridley070912dish3 Figs

Oven figs with blue cheese and wilted

pak-choi Starter, serves 2


2 figs

1 portion pak-choi

1clove garlic. If cloves are small, use 2

20g blue cheese of choice. I like any English or Italian blue.

Seasoning and 2 teaspoons of oil

Turn on oven to 200c


Partly split the figs from top to almost the bottom and give each side a slight squeeze to loosen the flesh and insert half the blue cheese to each. Place on a small oven dish (I use an old-fashioned enamel rice-pudding dish) and pour a teaspoon of oil over the figs and add seasoning to your taste. Remember, blue cheese is salty, so leave out the salt until served at the table. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes. until warm through and the cheese is soft but not runny. Peel garlic clove and chop finely.

Add a teaspoon of oil and heat in a small frying pan over gentle heat, adding the chopped garlic and making sure it does not burn. Slice the pak-choi, a member of the cabbage family, in half and place in the pan to wilt. The tops should go dark green and the stalks stay crispy.

Place the wilted pak-choi halves on plates with the oven figs on top.

With the other items in my basket, I shall make a Chinese fried-rice dish using the pak-choi, red peppers, carrots and some pineapple. Figs and pineapple for breakfast, and pineapple topped with a little cinnamon and brown sugar popped under a hot grill for 5 minutes for dessert — perhaps a pineapple upside-down cake, too. The cabbage I can steam with an apple and some caraway seeds and the same with the carrots adding some fresh herbs for side dishes. The peppers can be added to a pasta dish and the radishes just eaten as they are, or sliced thinly and added to any green salad mix. Another coleslaw using a vinaigrette dressing.

I tied the excess chillies from my 24 August 2012 tip on the handle of my airing cupboard and they are drying well.

Tip: coleslaw will keep for a week in an airtight container in the fridge. Make extra to use later to save time. This salad improves with time, so it is best to prepare it two hours before, which helps the different flavours to get absorbed into the dressing.


* Other articles hyperlinked:

Golden soup 19 October 2012

Roasted, stuffed squash 12 October 2012

Vegetable curry 5 October 2012

Carrot and coriander soup 28 September 2012

Ratatouille Gypsy stew 21 September 2012

Bubble and squeak Shooey styleBakewell pudding 14 September 2012

Coleslaw and radishes 7 September 2012

Turkish spinach pie 31 August 2012;

Tomato tart, marinated aubergines, fresh mango chutney 24 August 2012;

Roasted butternut squash soup and beetroot salad 17 August 17 2012;

A dish to make from a fiver in the market: the column launched 15 August 2012

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