Monday, 7 October 2013

Kholrabi salad with mushroom, spinach and hazelnut pasta

Well, much debate about what to call tonight's dinner - without just listing ingredients!  It is Monday - the veg box arrives on a Tuesday morning.  This is the time when you look at what you have got, and try to find something tasty, which is not just "chuck it in and hope for the best".

So, two dishes, either of which could have stood alone, but actually were delicious together.

Kholrabi, apple and watercress salad

Olive oil
1 lemon
1 kholrabi
2 small apples
2 carrots (mine were yellow, but that's because that was what we got)
1 onion, very finely sliced
cider vinegar
1 small bunch watercress, leaves picked off
salt and pepper

1.  Squeeze half a lemon to catch its juice in a bowl add about as much olive oil - this is to stop the kholrabi and apple oxidising and turning brown - so bear this in mind as you grate the other ingerdients in, and make sure you turn them over in the lemon juice and oil as you prepare the veg.
2.  Grate in kholrabi, apples and carrots.  Finely (as finely as you can) slice onions into half moons. I would have used red onions if I had some, but I didn't so VERY carefully finely sliced a white onion.
3.  Turn over to make sure veg and fruit have a film - you may wish to add more juice/oil - and/or a drop of cider vinegar to make a tangy, tasy mix.
4.  Strip watercress and gently stir in leaves.
5.  Taste, and adjust seasoning.

Mushroom, spinach and hazelnut pasta

Pasta (this is a gluten free version, so it was a corn rice mix penne pasta.. but any shortish pasta would be fine)
olive oil
8 (well, 8ish) mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
splosh of brandy (optional really, but does give a depth of flavour)
big handful of spinach leaves
3 tbsps creme fraiche
75g gorgonzola (or other blue cheese)
black pepper
a handful of hazelnuts

1.  Cook pasta in boiling water, according to packet instructions - don't over cook, as it will be heated through with the mushroom mixture.  Drain when cooked.  If a little while before needed, drizzle over a tiny hint of olive oil and stir so that it doesn't stick together.
2.  Chop mushrooms and sautee gently in olive oil (and butter, if you like butter).
3.  Chop spinach leaves into ribbons - not tiny pieces, just so that when they wilt they keep some shape but are not stringy.
4.  Add crushed garlic to mushrooms, stir in.
5.  Add a splosh of brandy - flame it (turn pan slightly into gas flame/ a match) to burn off the harshness of the alcohol but retain the flavour (this step is entirely optional, but does add a depth of flavour otherwise un-achievable)
6.  Add ribbons of spinach and stir/toss until wilted.
7.  Meanwhile roast hazelnuts, briefly, in a dry frying pan - about 2 minutes shaking much of the time.  Once roasted  - either pulse in processor or smash a bit in pestle and mortar.
7.  Chuck in pasta, remove from heat.
8.  Let cool for a minute, add crumbled cheese and creme fraiche.  Stir through until cheese is melted.

Serve - I sprinkled the hazelnuts on the pasta, and served with the salad - and we both had seconds... and thirds.

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