5 a day Delicious Green juice – Kale, Courgette and Apple

I always find around this time of year, that Winter really begins to take its toll. I long for some sunshine. Any hint of a tan from last summer is gone and my skin is dry from all the central heating and returned to a blueish shade of white. I seem to have had a cold for weeks and I am permanently tired. Now is the time to really look at your diet and make sure that you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need.

Up until last week I was concerned enough about getting my 5 a day, and now they have only gone and upped the ante and announced that we should now really be looking at getting 10 a day if we want to see the health results in terms of decreased chance of getting heart decease, stroke and cancer.   Well panic not – a green juice that not only probably provides half of your 10 a day but tastes really nice to!

However, this requires a proper juicer. Not a Nutribullet. Nutribullets are nothing more than small, upside down liquidisers and although the juices they produce are undoubtedly better for you, being much higher is fiber, they are all disgusting. Green sludge that would put anyone of juicing for life. Get a proper juicer and you won’t look back!

5 a day Delicious Green juice – Kale, Courgette and Apple

Feel free to play around with the recipe – substitute apples for pears, add a celery stick or a squeeze of lime. If you keep your veg and fruit in the fridge before making, your juice will be cold when you drink it, which is always nicer I think.

Large handful Kale

3 apples, quartered

1 large courgette, cut into chunks

Juice the kale first followed by the courgette and apple. Drink straight away.

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Kale Caesar Salad

I seem to have been hearing endlessly about this Kale Caesar Salad from The Field Kitchen. First of all I heard how it was the best thing Guy had eaten in years, then the recipe turned up in my box twice and now it is on the Riverford website, so being a great Caesar Salad fan, I thought I’d better give it a go. And, I have to say, it was worth the publicity.

I am not very keen on raw kale, even if it has been scrunched. This popular fad is when you sort of cure your kale by mixing it with salt and lemon juice and leaving it for a while so that it begins to soften a bit and hopefully become a bit more palatable. Often recently I have been served up huge bowls of the stuff in various creations and as I chew my way laboriously through it, someone will inevitably announce “And it is so good for you too!”, to which I always reply, although not usually audibly, “Well thank God it has got something going for it!” But this salad really is a pleasure – and it is good for you too!

Kale Caesar Salad

This makes a huge amount of dressing. You can keep it in the fridge for a few days for other salads, or half the amount.

2 garlic cloves, peeled

10 anchovy fillets or capers

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Juice of 1-2 lemons

2 eggs

250ml olive oil

kale, preferably curly

Parmesan, shaved – use a peeler

For the eggs – 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar

For the croutons

A few slices sourdough bread, torn into bit sized chunks

Extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic

Boil a small pan of water. Add a dash of white wine vinegar. Gently crack your eggs straight into the water. Boil gently until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a piece of kitchen towel.

Add to a blender (or use a hand blender) the eggs, the anchovies, the mustard, the red wine vinegar and the lemon juice. Blend. Slowly add the oil, bit by bit until smooth and completely blended. Check seasoning. Add salt and pepper if you like. Toss with the kale and leave to sit for about 15 minutes before serving.

Meanwhile, heat about an inch of olive oil in a small pan. Add the peeled garlic cloves. Fry until they are golden brown and remove. Add the bread. You may have to fry it in batches. Fry i=until golden brown and drain on kitchen towel. Season lightly with sea salt.

Top the salad with croutons and shaved parmesan.

Wet Polenta with Sauteed Mushrooms and Kale

I always forget about polenta, which is a shame, because I love it. It is the ultimate comfort food, like savoury porridge. If you have had it before and found it a bit bland, it is because you did not add enough of two very important ingredients – a large knob of butter and a generous handful of parmesan. You can have it grilled or baked but I prefer classic “wet polenta” topped with lots of lovely sautéed seasonal vegetables.

Most polenta you buy now is instant (precooked) and will be done in a minute but it is worth looking out for the king of polentas – Bramata which will take nearer 20 minutes to cook, but it is worth it!

Wet Polenta with Sauteed Mushrooms and Kale

8 mushrooms, sliced

Large handful of Kale, stripped from the stalks

Extra virgin olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

For the Polenta

750ml water

200g polenta

50g unsalted butter

50g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large heavy bottomed saucepan and fry the mushrooms in plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper. Keep cooking – the mushrooms will sweat and then started to fry and then turn golden brown.

Strip the kale from its stems and put a pan of salted water on to boil. When the water is boiling, add the kale and cook for 2 minutes or so before removing the leaves with a slotted spoon. Lay out the leaves to cool on a clean, dry tea towel. When cool, use the tea towel to squeeze out any excess water and roughly chop the kale Add another glug of oil to the mushrooms and add the garlic slithers and cook until light golden brown. Add the kale and a little salt. Stir well to break up the kale and remove from the heat. Check for seasoning.

For the polenta, bring the water to a simmer, add salt, whisk in the polenta and cook, stirring, on a low heat for 10 minutes or until the polenta comes away from the sides of the pan. Add the butter and cheese and stir vigorously. Pour onto a plate and top with the mushrooms and kale.

Ribollita

Veg boxes are a bit like allotments, in that one always seems to be lacking in something one month only to have a glut of it the next. I was lamenting the lack of greens over January but I am now inundated with Chard, Cime di Rapa, Cavalo Nero and Spinach and Spring Greens. One of my favourite soups sprang to mind, a fantastic peasant soup, cheap and wholesome and packed with nutritious greens.  If you had fresh tomatoes in your box this week, you could use them instead of tinned. Make sure you use proper rustic bread, preferably a bit stale, otherwise it will just dissolve. Also, invest in a good, peppery Tuscan olive oil. Riverford do a good one.

Ribollita literally means re-boiled or re-cooked in Italian and is meant to be re-heated. It tastes even better the next day!

Ribollita

Ribollita
2 red onions, peeled
2 carrots, peeled
3 sticks celery, trimmed
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Good Tuscan extra virgin olive oil
1 pinch ground fennel seeds
1 pinch dried red chilli
400 g good-quality tinned plum tomatoes
2 tins cannellini beans
300 g cavolo nero or chard, leaves, striped weight from the stalks
2 large handfuls good-quality sour-dough stale bread, torn into chunks
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Finely chop your onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Heat a saucepan with a splash of olive oil and add the vegetables to the pan with the ground fennel seeds and chilli. Sweat very slowly on a low heat with the lid just ajar for around 15 to 20 minutes until soft, but not brown. Add the tomatoes and bring to a gentle simmer for a few minutes.

Add the beans with a little of the water from the tin and bring back to the boil. Shred your cavalo nero and chard and stir in to the soup (it will look like loads, but don’t worry as it will cook down.) Season well with sea salt and pepper. When the greens have cooked into the soup add the bread. The soup should be thick but not dry, so add a little more water if you need to loosen it. Add plenty of olive oil – you want to achieve a silky, thick soup. Check seasoning.

Chard

Sweet Potato & Harissa Soup with Braised Kale and Pinenuts

This week I started with a medium veg box original. There was one main reason for this. This is the box I will be using for my SuperClub menu on Thursday this week and I thought I could use this blog to fine-tune some of the recipes I will be cooking. I have to admit that sometimes even I struggle to constantly think up new recipes with the same veg and they are often just variations on a theme. The combination of Sweet Potato and Kale is a classic. Quite frankly, you could not eat a two ingredients which are better for you, especially during Winter. Kale is one of those veg that actually tastes good for you. It is no surprise that it is one of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet.

But sweet potatoes are a different kettle of fish and it always amazes me is how good they are for you. You cannot believe that something that tastes so, well …. sweet, could do you any good, but they too pack a powerful nutritional punch. They have got over 400% of your daily needs for vitamin A in one medium sized sweet potato as well as loads of antioxidants vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, fibre & potassium. They have got more grams of natural sugars than regular potato but more overall nutrients with fewer calories.

The combination of the two together, the slight bitterness of the kale which counteracts the sweetness of the sweet potato is a perfect marriage and I have cooked countless hashes and soups, usually with the addition of some chorizo to add a spicy, smoky depth. But the superClubs are vegetarian so I had to think again. My first notion was a Moroccan influenced soup with smoked paprika and harissa to add a kick. But I could not make up my mind whether it should be chunky or smooth. Obviously I wouldn’t want to puree the kale and but sweet potato is great both ways.

Like the sweet potato itself, I wanted to create a soup, which maybe a little unpromising to look at, but was so delicious that you could not believe how good it was for you. So I opted for a smooth, creamy, thick soup with kale braised in garlic, which you can just stir through at the end. I hope I have succeeded.

Sweet Potato Soup

Sweet Potato & Harissa Soup with Braised Kale and Pinenuts

You can substitute spinach or chard for the kale in this recipe. Harissa varies in heat enormously in different makes so add cautiously. You can always add more. My favourite is Rose Harissa available from Waitrose.

Serves: 6
2 onions
4 cloves garlic, 2 grated and 2 very thinly sliced
2 sweet potatoes
Couple of large handfuls of kale
Extra Virgin olive oil olive oil
1-2 tsp ground cumin
1-2 tsp smoked paprika
1-2 tsp. Harissa
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A handful of pinenuts lightly toasted in the oven

Peel the sweet potatoes, then slice them into ¼-inch thick rounds. Wash the spinach and thinly slice the leaves; reserve.
Peel and thinly slice the onions and in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until soft. Add the grated garlic, some cumin and smoked paprika and cook a minute, stirring constantly. Add the sweet potatoes and cover with water. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 to 25 minutes until sweet potatoes are completely soft. Top up with water if necessary.

Meanwhile strip the kale from its stems and put a pan of salted water on to boil. When the water is boiling, add the kale and cook for 2 minutes or so before removing the leaves with a slotted spoon. Lay out the leaves to cool on a clean, dry tea towel. When cool, use the tea towel to squeeze out any excess water and roughly chop the kale. Heat some olive oil ain a saucepan and fry the garlic slithers until light golden brown. Add the kale and a little salt. Stir well and remove from the heat. Check for seasoning.

Add a teaspoon of harissa to the soup and puree with a hand-blender. Taste and add more salt, pepper, cumin, smoked paprika or harissa to taste. Serve in bowls with a handful of kale in each bowl and the pinenuts sprinkled on top and a drizzle of olive oil.

sweet potatoes 2

Caldo Verde

Finally, for this week, my final cabbage recipe. Another hearty soup this time from Portugal, Caldo Verde literally translates as hot green, consisting traditionally of potatoes, a local kale and Portuguese spicy sausage. I have adapted it for cabbage, but you can only use the dark outer leaves so it does not lack its deep, famous green colour. This makes it a great use-up dish when using the paler greener inner leaves for slaw, or even for my Keralan cabbage Thoran recipe this week. But it obviously works very well with any kale or Cavalo Nero too.

When it comes to the sausage, it really is hard to find good quality Portuguese sausage such as Linguica, however good chorizos are easily available now a days – Unearthed do spicy or oak smoked or Waitrose do their own brand Iberico Chorizo which comes with the added bonus of being already diced.

Caldo Verde in Pan

Caldo Verde
Extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 potatoes, peeled and diced
200g good quality chorizo, diced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
ground black pepper to taste
1 large cabbage, the outer leaves only or couple of heads of kale or  Cavalo Nero, shredded and washed
Smoked paprika

In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook onion with plenty of olive oil for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and chorizo and fry gently to release the fat. And potatoes and cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes more. Pour in water to cover, season well with salt and pepper and bring to a boil, and let boil gently for 20 minutes, until potatoes are soft all the way through. When the potatoes are ready, mash them into the broth. Add smoked paprika to taste and more seasoning. Meanwhile blanch your cabbage or kale into boiling, salted water for about three minutes. Remove and drain well, allowing to cool quickly. Add to soup and simmer. Stir in some more olive oil and serve at once.

Cabbage

Zuppa d’Aosta

So on to cabbage recipe two. This is one of the oddest soups ever. It comes from Aosta which is in Northern Italy, right up high in the Alps, so as you would expect it is very hearty soup and typically packed full of carbohydrates, bread and cheese. Like Fondu, Raclette or Tartiflette and other mountain recipes, it is affectionately known as rib-sticking, the dictionary definition being- to last long and fortify one well; [for food] to sustain one even in the coldest weather.

Obviously there is nothing strange about that, if you live in an extremely cold climate, which of course in London, we don’t. But what is a little extraordinary about this soup is that it is baked, and then what tips it over the edge of unusual recipes, is the combination of stale bread, loads and loads of cheese and cabbage along with anchovies! The anchovies act as an amazing sort of seasoning, which brings this whole soup into a world class of its own so don’t be tempted to leave them out.

Fontina

I first made Zuppa d’Aosta at the River Café and it even features in their first book. Jamie Oliver rewrites it by adding loads more ingredients including the quite nice, but I think unnecessary addition of bacon. Good, strong bread is essential – I used Gail’s Sourdough, the cheese – should strictly be Fontina d’Aosta but even I struggled to find this, having to make do with a Fontina from Alpeggio (which describes the region rather than the town), which I got from Ocado.  Another place to try, if you are in Wimbledon on a Saturday morning, is the wonderful Vallebona,  Please do go,  if you have not been, because you will find the most amazing selection of mainly Sardinian delights, in the most unlikely setting of an industrial car-park.

If, however you just can’t find any Fontina, another mountain cheese will do such as Gruyere, Emmental or Gouda. Strange or not, as the weather turns colder,  this soup is guaranteed to warm you up.

Zuppa D'Aosta in Bowl

Zuppa d`Aosta
1 savoy or other hearty cabbage, Cavalo Nero or Kale works too
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf stale sourdough or ciabatta bread
large garlic clove peeled and halved
10 anchovy fillets
250g Fontina cheese
2l chicken stock, can be made up from good quality stock cubes
100g parmesan freshly grated

You will need a casserole or saucepan that can be put in the oven.
Preheat the oven to moderate 180C/350F/Gas 4.
Remove the leaves from the cabbage heads one by one and cut out the thick stems from each leaf keeping the leaves whole. Use a mixture of the dark outer leaves and brighter green inner leaves. (The leaves are traditionally kept whole but you can roll them up and shred them, the advantage being that it makes the soup easier to eat.) Blanch the cabbage in boiling salted water for 1 minute then drain well. Cut the bread into slices on an angle to give them as much surface area as possible. Cut off any very tough exterior crusts. Toast the slices on both sides and rub with the garlic. Cut the anchovy fillets into slithers lengthways. Slice the Fontina into slivers. Bring the stock to the boil and season it.
In your casserole or pan make a first layer of cabbage and season with salt and pepper. Place 4 or 5 anchovy slithers evenly spaced on top, then a layer of Fontina followed by one third of the toasted bread. Sprinkle over some Parmesan and add stock to cover this layer. Make a second layer in the same way and then a third finishing with a top layer of bread, sprinkled with the last of the Parmesan. Make sure the stock just covers the top layer.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown on top.

zuppa d'aosta in bowl 2

Baked Eggs with Kale and Cream

It is not every day that I get invited to a book launch, let alone have my name on the cover of the book (albeit along with a few others names.) So, I thought I would spend a little time telling you about Riverford’s latest book, in their range of Riverford Companions “Autumn and Winter.”

No prejudice here of course, but this is a really nicely produced book packed with seasonal recipes to make right now. The emphasis was on quick and easy. It is meant to be a helpful guide to assist and support you to get your vegetables out the box and on the table fast.

The funny thing is that I actually wrote the recipes for the book nearly two years ago now so although it is still seasonal, it is a bit on the late side. I wondered whether I was even going to remember which recipes were mine but I am pleased to say that I did, and a few of them I just wanted to make again right now.

Ever since the weather turned colder, I have had a craving for all sorts of kale, cabbage and leeks but they have to be with cream. I have no idea what this yearning denotes – a lack of vitamin K and a need to fatten up for the winter? A prime instinct, that this is what I am going to need, to get me through the long, hard months ahead. I don’t know, but if it is true, this recipe is the one to satisfy on all counts.

Baked Eggs with Kale 1

Baked Eggs with Kale and Cream
Delicious with spinach as well.
300g curly kale or cavolo nero, stripped from its stems
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, very finely sliced
300ml double cream
1 pinch chilli flakes
4 eggs
120g gruyere or parmesan, grated
toast, to serve

Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/ gas mark 4.
Blanch the kale in a pan of boiling water (1–2 mins for curly, 2–3 mins for cavolo nero). Drain and squeeze out excess water once cool.
Fry the garlic in the oil for 1–2 mins. Add the kale and season. Stir in the cream and chilli and bubble for 3–5 mins, until thickened slightly.
Divide the kale between four ramekins, making a small well in the centre of each. Break an egg into each and sprinkle a little grated cheese on top.
Bake for 8–10 mins, until golden. Cook for less time if you like your yolk runny.

Kale

Kale Chips

This week I opted for a small veg box (less roots.) I was very keen to get hold of some Kale, to try out “Kale Chips” and it is in most boxes this week. I have read up on Kale Chips, a super-foods, health phenomenon from a few years back, and I was a bit dubious about the whole thing.

First of all they were hailed as a healthy alternative to chips – well, sorry, who are they trying to kid? They are not chips, they are cabbage leaves. Second of all, don’t tell me they are super healthy. They are strangely quite delicious, but what makes them so, along with the crunchiness is the oil and salt! I have eaten many a crispy seaweed from the Chinese takeaway (no more than deep fried cabbage with salt and sugar) but I never once thought of it as a healthy option. Having said that, you are still getting some of the nutritional benefits of one of the healthiest foods on the planet so it can’t be all bad!

Kale is low in calorie, high in fibre and has zero fat. Kale is high in iron. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. Iron is essential for good health, such as the formation of haemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more. Kale is high in Vitamin K. Eating a diet high in Vitamin K can help protect against various cancers. It is also necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions including normal bone health and blood clotting. Also increased levels of vitamin K can help people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Kale is filled with powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants, such as carotenoids and flavonoids help protect against various cancers. Kale is a great anti-inflammatory food. One cup of kale is filled with 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help, fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders. Kale is great for cardiovascular support. Eating more kale can help lower cholesterol levels. Kale is high in Vitamin A. Vitamin A is great for your vision, your skin as well as helping to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers. Kale is high in Vitamin C. This is very helpful for your immune system, your metabolism and your hydration. Kale is high in calcium. Per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk, which aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Vitamin C is also helpful to maintain cartilage and joint flexibility.

Enough? So the final verdict is that apart from making my whole house smell of cabbage, they were surprisingly enjoyable  and more nutritious than a chip!

Kale Chips

Kale Chips
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Preheat an oven to 160 degrees C.  Line a baking tray with parchment paper.Strip the leaves from the stalks of the Kale. If large, tear into pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. It is very important that the leaves are dry. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and lightly massage the oil into the leaves. Lay out on the tray with plenty of room. The leaves must not overlap.
Bake until golden brown all over,  not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes. As with most things in the oven, you will find that the back and front of the tray cook quicker than the middle. Rearrange half way through to ensure even cooking. Eat straight away.

Kale

Charred Corn, Scrunched Kale and Sweet Potato Salad

Judging by how quiet the roads still are, I am assuming that most people are still away. And with the rather disappointing weather of late, who would blame them. But I am back from my holidays in the South of France so it is time to get blogging again and I will be concentrating on healthy eating. As always the markets in France were piled high with fantastic vegetables. They really put the English to shame in their conviction of taste over appearance on the veg front. No perfectly uniform, identical greenhouse grown Dutch vegetables here. All sorts of knobbly and imperfect specimens make it to the market stalls which are inspected and chosen with much consideration, conversation and examination.

Market France

But as fantastic as the vegetables were, it appears to have been the Croissant and cheese that made the biggest impact on my diet and weight. So now I am back, I am focused on “healthy eating” and thought I might try a few recipes from a new book I just bought “A Modern Way to Eat” by Anna Jones. I was particularly looking for a new recipe for sweetcorn and thought that “Charred Corn, Scrunched Kale and Sweet Potato Salad” sounded wholesome.

I have never been a massive raw kale fan so I was keen to see how the “scrunching” works which Anna says is equally good with spinach, Cavolo Nero and spring greens. “I keep the kale raw, which might seem a bit unusual. I love to eat kale raw – but I always scrunch it with lemon or lime juice and a pinch of salt first. This does something amazingly fresh and different to it – the cellulose breaks down, so it softens and sweetens into buttery little ribbons. It is a super-quick and because you aren’t cooking it all the nutrients stay intact” and I have to say that that it did make a difference and the whole salad was really delicious. I just changed the honey for maple syrup and added a little chilli to the sweet potatoes. The caramelised beautifully but keep an eye on them as they burn easily.

Charred Sweetcorn, Sweet Potato and Kale Salad

Charred Corn, Scrunched Kale and Sweet Potato Salad
4 sweet potatoes, washed and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon runny honey
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g head of curly kale
Juice of ½ a lime
2 corn on the cob
1 ripe avocado, peeled, destoned and sliced
For the dressing:
Juice of ½ a lime
A handful of cashews (soaked overnight if you have time)
½ a bunch of fresh coriander
2 tablespoons coconut milk

Method

Preheat your oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6.

Place the sweet potatoes on a roasting tray with the paprika, cumin, honey, a good splash of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Toss together, then roast for 40 minutes, until soft on the inside and charred and caramelised outside.

Strip the kale from its stems and rip or chop it into little bite-size pieces. Put into a large bowl, squeeze over the lime juice and add a pinch of salt. Use your hands to scrunch the kale for a minute or so, then place to one side.

Next, heat a griddle pan until screaming hot. Add the corn and char it on each side, turning it from time to time. Once charred all over, let it cool, then cut the kernels from the corn cobs and add them to the bowl of kale.

Put all the dressing ingredients into a blender with 2 tablespoons of water and a good pinch of salt. Blitz until almost smooth and grassy green.

Taste, and add more lime juice or salt if you think it needs it.
Add the sweet potatoes to the kale and corn, then add the avocado to the bowl too.

Pour over the dressing and toss the lot together.

Sweet Potatoes