Eat your greens

With winter well and truly taking hold here, I start to yearn for spring and all things green. Well luckily you don’t really need to wait at all, there are so many delicious winter greens to keep you going until the first shoots of spring announce the beginning of the new growing season, just a few weeks away.

Here are a few of my favourite winter dishes using a selection of cabbages, leeks and spinach.

Kale ribollita with chargrilled sourdough

A hearty spring soup full of green vitality makes the perfect supper dish with slices of chargrilled garlic bruschetta.

Serves 4

Prep time: 1 hour (includes cooking beans)

Cooking time: 50 minutes

Soaking time: overnight

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

1 onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, 2 chopped 1 left whole

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 large leek, trimmed and sliced

1 large carrot, finely chopped

1 large celery stalk, finely chopped

400g can chopped tomatoes

1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

500g kale, trimmed and shredded

4-6 slices sourdough bread

For the beans

125g dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight in cold water

1 onion, quartered

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 sprig fresh rosemary

6 black peppercorns

Method:

Start by cooking the beans. Drain the soaked beans, rinse and place in a saucepan with the quartered onion, garlic clove, rosemary stalk and peppercorns.  Add 1 litre of cold water and bring to the boil, skimming the surface. Cover and simmer gently over a low heat for 50-55 minutes or until the beans are tender.

Drain the beans, discarding the the onion quarters and rosemary stalk. Transfer half the beans and liquid to a food and puree until smooth. Return to the pan.

Make the soup. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion, garlic, rosemary and a little salt and pepper for 10 minutes until softened. Add the leek, carrot and celery and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, the cooked bean mixture and stock. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently over a low heat for about 20 minutes until the carrots are tender. Stir in the kale and cook for a further 10 minutes until wilted

Meanwhile, heat a ridged grill pan until hot and grill the sourdough until lightly charred on each side. Cut the remaining garlic clove in half and rub over the toast. Drizzle liberally with extra virgin olive oil. Spoon the soup into bowls and serve topped with the bruschetta.


Quinoa salad with broccoli, preserved lemon and avocado oil 

The preserved lemon adds a lovely zing to this salad dish with the combination of dried fruits, nuts and green veg. Perfect for lunch.

Serves

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Cooling time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

200g quinoa

350g broccoli

3 spring onions

1 small avocado

2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as coriander and mint

50g dried cherries

30g pumpkin seeds, toasted

4 tablespoons avocado or extra virgin olive oil

1 lemon, squeezed juice

2 tablespoons finely chopped preserved lemon

2 teaspoons honey

salt and pepper

Method:

Rinse the quinoa under cold water and drain well. Heat a frying pan until hot, add the wet quinoa and stir over a high heat, firstly until dry and then continue for a further 1-2 minutes until lightly toasted and starting to crackle.

Add 450ml cold water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pan. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer over a very low heat for 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat but leave undisturbed for a further 5 minutes. If there is any liquid remaining drain through a sieve and leave to cool.

Trim the broccoli, discarding the stalk and cut into florets. Place in a steamer and cook over a medium heat for 3 minutes until al dente. Remove and let cool.

In a bowl, lightly whisk the oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, the preserved lemon, honey and some salt and pepper.

Combine the quinoa, broccoli, spring onions, pumpkin seeds and cherries. Add the avocado and herbs and toss together. Add the dressing, stir well.

Tip: if you prefer serve this salad warm, rather than allowing the quinoa and broccoli to cool completely.


Orecchiette with softened spinach, Dolcelatte and hazelnuts

A classic combination of spinach and dolcelatte cheese is given a modern twist with the addition of toasted hazelnuts

Serves: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 shallots, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 lemon, grated zest

500g spinach leaves, washed

50g hazelnuts, roughly chopped

50g butter

350g dried orecchiette pasta

150g dolcelatte cheese

4 tablespoons mascarpone cheese

salt and pepper

freshly grated Parmesan, to serve

Method:

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or saucepan and gently fry the shallots, garlic, lemon zest and a little salt and pepper over a low heat for 5 minutes until softened. Add the spinach leaves and stir well, then cook over a gentle heat for 2-3 minutes until wilted.

Melt the butter in a small frying pan and add the hazelnuts. Stir over a medium-low heat until the nuts and butter turn a lovely nutty brown colour.

Meanwhile plunge the pasta into a large saucepan of lightly salted, boiling water and cook for 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain well reserving 3 tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Return the pasta and liquid to the pan.

Stir in the spinach mixture, dolcelatte, mascarpone and all the Parmesan. Stir well over a low heat for 1 minute until the pasta is well coated with the sauce. Divide between bowls and serve topped with the hazelnut butter and some extra, freshly grated Parmesan.


Baked savoy cabbage with Emmental and breadcrumbs

A fabulous way to bake cabbages in a creamy, cheesy sauce topped with crispy breadcrumbs and Parmesan. You can use any cheese you like.

Serves: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

1 medium savoy cabbage. About 650g

25g butter, plus extra for greasing

1 whole nutmeg

500ml single cream

150g Emmental, grated

50g freshly made breadcrumbs

25g freshly grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/ gas mark 6 and grease a 2.5 litre baking tin with a little butter. Remove any really large tough outer leaves from the cabbage and very carefully cut into 6 wedges making sure you cut through the stalk so that the wedges remain attached at the base.

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Add the cabbage wedges and blanch for 4-5 minutes until vibrant green. Using tongs or a slotted spoon remove the cabbage from the pan. Shake off excess liquid and drain on kitchen towel.

Arrange the wedges in the prepared baking tin. Season with freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper and dot over the remaining butter. Scatter the Emmental between the cabbage pressing some down into the leaves and pour over the cream. Scatter over the breadcrumbs and the Parmesan and transfer to the oven. Bake for 30-25 minutes until bubbling and golden.


Recipes © Louise Pickford 2019

Images © Ian Wallace 2019 ( ianwallacephotographer.com )

First published by Sainsbury’s magazine March 2016

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