Sunday, 25 October 2009

autumn salad of squash, salsify, cavolo nero and cobnuts



i've half-stolen this recipe from the british larder (http://www.britishlarder.co.uk/). it's a bit of a food porn website for me, i have to admit, as the food is consistently mouth-watering. it also seems to give me ideas, rather than full copy&paste recipes - perhaps it's because what she cooks is basically seasonal so makes use of weird and wonderful recipes you pick up as the year goes on.

speaking of which, enter black salsify. it arrived in an abel&cole box, all muddy and misshapen, and cost me half an hour on the internet looking for what to do with it. i reckon it's one of those they only dare include once a year because they know they'll be outrage, middle-class stylee, at being given stuff you barely reoognise.

anyway, black salsify tastes like a cross between a jerusalem artichoke and nothing. literally nothing. it's one of those vegetables, a bit like turnip, that to me are just padding, something to give texture rather than any real flavour (or excitement about eating it).

the picture really doesn't do this justice: the light is wrong and it all looks a bit grey. in real life, it was a beautiful mix of deep greens and oranges. i loved the crunch of the nuts and the black salsify with the soft, caramelised flesh of the squash and the wilted leaves.

AUTUMN SALAD OF SQUASH, SALSIFY, CAVOLO NERO AND COBNUTS
for two

1 very small butternut squash
2 roots of black salsify, cut into finger-length batons
10 or so cobnuts, shelled
1/3 head of cavolo nero, leaves stripped off tough stalks and shredded
butter
olive oil
parmesan cheese for shaving on top
salt and pepper
1tsp wholegrain mustard
1 lemon, juice only

preheat the oven to 200C. first, core the squash and slice into 5mm or so thin slices. put in a roasting tin and coat with enough olive oil to cover. season. add the shelled raw cobnuts to the same tin and shake it all together for the nuts to get a coating of oil. roast for half an hour or until the squash is cooked and starting to caramelise around the edges.

while it's roasting, prepare the salsify. have a bowl of water with half a lemon squeezed in ready - this is to stop the salsify discolouring when peeled. bring a pan of water to boil and cook the salsify batons for about 3 minutes. drain and, when cool enough to handle, peel the skin off. it comes off quite easily but you might need to help it out with a vegetable peeler. put them in lemony water as you go along.

heat a frying pan with a knob of butter and some olive oil. fry the salsify until browned, then remove and drain on kitchen paper. in the same pan, fry the cavolo nero for 5 minutes or so until soft and cooked through. don't burn it - if it looks too dry, add a little water to get it going.

make the dressing with 3 parts olive oil, 1 part lemon juice and stir in the mustard.

return the salsify to the pan to heat through. now mix the squash and cobnuts with the cavolo nero and the salsify. drizzle with the dressing, then scatter over the parmesan shavings.

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