Friday, November 30, 2012

Swedes... but not the blonde ones!

As November draws its final dew laden breath today, Country Living Magazine champions an unsung stalwart of the season... the humble swede.

Now I had never really thought of growing swede until now. Probably like most people, I’d characterised them as backstage boys rather than look-at-me divas but apparently they are an easy veg for a moisture retentive, fertile soil, like mine, and just now I’d rather like to be digging up some heavy roots, cloaked in a fringe of deep purple, tapering to gold, with hints of shocking lime. 

And here’s what I’d cook.

Very Vegetable Soup 
(from The Painted Garden Cookbook)

Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 thick slices bacon, finely chopped
2 waxy potatoes, cut into 1cm cubes
120g sweetcorn kernels (fresh or frozen)
200g swede chopped into 1cm cubes
1 apple, chopped
600ml vegetable stock
4 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped 
4 cavolo nero leaves (or 2 savoy cabbage leaves) ribs removed, sliced thinly
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Warm the oil in a large, heavy pan over a low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, until soft but not browned. 
Add the bacon and cook for a minute before adding the paoatoes, sweetcorn, swede and apple.
Stir well, then add the stock and the sage.
Cover and simmer very gently for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Add the cavolo nero and simmer, covered, for a further 5 minutes, until the cavolo nero is cooked but not soggy.
Taste for seasoning; the bacon may provide enough salt, but do add a twist of black pepper before serving with chunks of warm brown bread.

P.S. As I’m sadly bereft of swede, I’ll be using celery as my understudy. There’s a verdant forest out there that needs eating before the slugs beat us to it.

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