Gosh, it’s already the end of January but Spring is still a way off and the vegetables in the stalls are resolutely of the glorious Wintry sort (yes, even though aubergines/eggplants, courgettes/zucchine and peppers continue to make their uncalled-for appearance at this time of year). Anyway, for what it’s worth, here are some ideas for a vegetable side dish that IS in season.
(1) RADICCHIO AND ORANGE SALAD
There are three kinds of radicchio leaves in this salad and some slices of orange. Season with olive oil and lemon juice, or a few drops of balsamic vinegar.
(2) CAVOLO NERO
Cavolo nero (pictured below) is a type of kale also known as black cabbage or Tuscan kale. It is non-hearting with long strap-like leaves similar to savoy cabbage in texture. … Cavolo nero can be used the same way as cabbages, or in dishes with a distinct Italian flavour.
We call it ‘cavolo nero’, black cabbage here in Frascati. I simmered it for a few brief minutes, then drained it. I cut up some guanciale (you could use bacon or pancetta) and toasted it in a frying pan with some olive oil. Then I added the cavolo nero and a jar of cannelini beans. Vegetables yes but in this case not vegetarian.
I think these are known as broccoli rabe in English … I always forget. Anyway, a similar procedure to above, simmer first and then drain. Olive oil in the saucepan, with some garlic too, why not, a couple of cherry tomatoes and a handful of raisins.
(4) BROCCOLETTI NO FUSS
These broccoletti are simply cooked, drained and when cool enough to handle squeezed a little (to get rid of excess water). Serve with olive oil and lemon juice.
(5) ESCAROLE SALAD
Find the tenderest escarole leaves for a salad that will also include slices of fennel.
(6) COOKED ESCAROLE with pine kernels, raisins and spring onion
Cook the escarole leaves for at least five minutes then drain.
Olive oil, pine nuts, raisin and roughly chopped spring onions (scallion).
Warm up the cooked escarole in the pan and serve straight away.
(9) PAN FRIED ARTICHOKES
The easiest way to cook an artichoke … slice it up and fry it in a saucepan with plenty of olive oil.
(10) CAULIFLOWER SALAD
I borrowed the recipe from blogger Stefano Arturi (https://qbbq.wordpress.com/2020/01/26/insalata-tiepida-di-cavolfiore-arrosto-con-pinoli-capperi-e-uvette/)
As with any cauliflower salad, it requires a lot of ‘props’ to make it zing. Cauliflower just can’t be hacked on its own – that and it will often make you fart. Anyway, it turns out this recipe was jolly good and I gave the leftovers to my daughter to take to work the next day. They gave it the thumbs up and thought it lovely. Good.
Well, first of all you have to roast the cauliflower florets in a hot oven until they are cooked. Coat them with olive oil first, naturally.
Once they have cooled down you can add all the other ‘stuff’ – the stuff that makes it taste good. Orange zest for instance.
Blurry photo, sorry. The blob you are staring at is a spoonful of orange marmelade!!! What a nice twist, hey? Dot the salad with a few blobs of orange marmelade, it works a treat.
That morning I was making pasta with chickpeas … but instead of opening a jar of chickpeas I opened one that contained cannellini beans. I wasn’t going to throw them away now, was I? So in they went too. So this cauliflower salad gets reinforced with the protein from the beans … double trouble (beans, beans, are good for the heart, the more you eat, the more you … yes, well).
The rest of the ingredients: raisins, pistachio (I had run out of pine kernels – which by the way are pretty expensive, have you noticed?), capers, parsely, olive oil and whatever other condiment you might wish for your salad dressing … wine vinegar or lemon juice.
I think the orange zest and the orange marmalade did the trick. I have to confess it was actually very nice. And no gassy consequences the following day either, go figure.