Chef finds inspiration in his greenhouse
For Jacob Dahl Andersen the greenhouse is a great source of inspiration for his job as a chef at the Danish food delivery company Skagenfood. At the same time, his greenhouse is his private oasis where he experiments with crops and cultivating.
This year Jacob is experimenting with Tomatillo which is the main ingredient in the classic Mexican Salsa Verde.
Text and photos: Nanna Stærmose
Food has always had a special place in Jacob Dahl Andersen’s heart. He works as a chef at Skagenfood developing recipes and meal boxes. He has a long carrier of working at gourmet restaurants both in Denmark and abroad. Now he lives in the northern part of Denmark in the town called Skagen. He has a house, a garden, a raised bed and a greenhouse.
“I have opened caviar and fried foie gras for many years, but I have never been as happy as I am now picking vegetables in my greenhouse and preparing them in my outdoor kitchen,” he says.
The outdoor kitchen is on his terrace and consists of three grills, a smoking chamber and a pizza oven.
“I fell for the Juliana Classic of 77.5 square feet because it is in wood. I thought ‘that is something special’.”
The greenhouse reminds Jacob of which vegetables that are in season – something he benefits from when developing recipes for Skagenfood.
Every square foot is utilized
He has tomatoes, cucumbers, different kinds of cabbage, Marigolds, Tall Verbenas, Common Hollyhocks, Sweet Williams, Cape Gooseberries, Tomatillo, Sunflowers, Sweet Peas and different kinds of herbs.
“I really like to sow seeds and watch them turn into plants.”
That is why most of the plants in his greenhouse have been germinated. Next step is to transplant the sunflowers and other flowers in the garden. He plants Marigolds in the raised bed as they should be effective against vermin. He plants pees by a chestnut fence so they can climb it.
“I really think I get much out of my small greenhouse, more than I can even fit in my garden,” says Jacob, who has already given away most of his germinated seeds to friends and family.
Tomatillo need lots of heat and is therefore perfect for the greenhouse.
This year he is trying out a new crop – a Tomatillo. Tomatillo is in the same family as Cape Gooseberries. It also has a thin peel and needs to be harvested when it splits. Tomatillo is known from the Mexican cuisine, where it is the main ingredient in the classic Salsa Verde. According to Jacob, you can use regular green tomatoes for Salsa Verde, but if you want to stick to the original recipe you should use Tomatillo.
“Tomatillo needs lots of heat and is therefore perfect for the greenhouse. I might put one plant outside to see how it reacts, but it is supposed to be cultivated under glass.”
You can’t get enough tomatoes. As they grow bigger the space in the greenhouse might be tight, so some of them will be transplanted outside.
Jacob uses his greenhouse as a kind of laboratory, where he experiments with crops. Here he is growing Cape Gooseberries.
Lots of pots. Jacob has lots of space to work in his greenhouse because of the table and self.
Inspiration for the season’s greens
If there will be a recipe for Salsa Verde in the meal boxes from Skagenfood as Jacob’s Tomatillos ripen, he does not know yet, but the greenhouse crops are a great source of inspiration for him when developing new recipes.
“I get reminded of which vegetables are in season when I have a greenhouse, and that is really beneficial to my work.”
Jacob is not the only one who needs inspiration. He has a mission that his two kids of 5 and 8 years will learn how to grow their own food. It is about learning to understand how soil works and what happens when you add compost, and how to cultivate your own crops.
Last year the family was very fond of the mini cucumbers, so they are among the crops this year too.
“I want to pass on the joy I get from harvesting something I have sown myself to my kids. They have been with me in the greenhouse for many years, but they mostly want to come with me when it is time to harvest. That is the most interesting part for them.”
In one corner is a rose. It is Jacob’s wife Lisette who grows the flowers, and roses are nice in a greenhouse.
Facts about Jacob Dahl Andersen:
- He works as a chef at Skagenfood.
- He lives in Skagen, Denmark, with his wife Lisette and their two children Alba and Sigurd.
- I grew up in Løgstør, Denmark.
- He has worked as a chef in many gourmet restaurants in Denmark, France, England, Curacao and Australia.
Photo: Jacob Dahl Andersen/Skagenfood.
Jacobs recipe for a Salsa Verde:
10.6 ounces of Tomatillo
2 yellow onions
4 garlic cloves
1-2 green chillies (Jalapeño or Serrano)
1 dl olive oil
1 large bundle of coriander
Peel and chop the onion and garlic in rustic pieces.
Chop the chilli in smaller pieces. (If you don’t want a spicy salsa you can remove the pips from the chilli.)
Heat up a pot and add olive oil. Sauté the onion, garlic, chilli and Tomatillos, which should be chopped in quarters, for 5-7 minutes without it changing colour too much.
Put the mix in a blender and blend with the chopped coriander. Use the entire coriander – also the stalk.
Add salt and adjust the consistency with water.
Season with lime juice.
Mexican Salsa Verde is usually made from Tomatillos which are in the same family with tomatoes but reminds more of gooseberries. If you don’t have Tomatillos you can make Salsa Verde with green tomatoes.
Facts about Jacob’s greenhouse
Juliana Classic of 77.5 square feet. The model is no longer a part of the Juliana assortment, but if you like wooden greenhouses you can find your dream house at Gabriel Ash.
Om Nanna Stærmose
Nanna is the Danish writer of many of the articles in the Greenhouse Forum.
Nanna visits happy greenhouse owners and tells their stories about basic cultivation, but also those stories that are more oblique.