Winter Vegetables

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Of cabbages and other things…   Alison McKee

Winter is a feast for those who like to eat their greens – especially leafy greens melted into hearty soups such as Minestrone. Curly Kale belongs to the Brassica family and is sometimes described as ‘wild’ cabbage. Curly Kale is available all year round but it is more flavoursome and tender during the winter months. Curly Kale can be steamed, blanched or sautéed and has an affinity with potatoes, white beans, chickpeas, barley and spicy sausage. Before cooking the tough stalk and the central rib need to be removed. Chickpeas with Vegetables

Cavolo Nero is probably the tenderest of the Kale family despite its bumpy texture. It is also known as Black Cabbage, Black Tuscan and Dinosaur Kale. It’s nearly as tender as cabbage, but without the crunchiness when raw or the wateriness when cooked. When cooked Cavolo Nero has a rounded almost nutty flavour. Cavolo Nero has an affinity with pork, lamb, venison, pumpkin and mushrooms. Again the tough stalk and central rib need removing before cooking.

Collard Greens date back to prehistoric times and are one of the non-head forming members of the Brassica family along with broccoli and cauliflower. They have a very mild, almost smoky flavour. Collard Greens are an integral food in traditional Southern American cuisine and an essential ingredient in ‘soul food’ along with black-eyed peas, grits, ham hocks, cornbread and rice. However, they are also used commonly in Brazilian and Portuguese cookery as an accompaniment to fish and meat dishes. Lightly cooked Collard Greens can be used as a bed for poached eggs or as a filling in omelettes and crepes. For a ‘southern ‘inspired dish serve sautéed Collard Greens alongside Corn and Polenta Fritters with fried tomatoes and bacon. Corn and Polenta Fritters. Best of all Collard Greens make great ‘mash’. Fold blanched and chopped Collard Greens through creamy mashed potatoes and serve with succulent roast pork. Traditional Roast Pork.

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