Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Sprouts - Mini cabbage genius

Wooooo it's 2013 and time to be good (better, anyway) and all that jazz. It seems my current favourite cookbook (yes I have jumped on the excellent Ottoloenghi band-wagon and am obsessed with 'Jerusalem') is packed with healthy, interesting, veggie based ideas that make my mouth water. This is a good thing and it's already changing the way I think about meals and putting dishes together. I can't really blog every recipe I cook from the book, that wouldn't be very interesting for anyone, but basically, if you haven't got it, buy it, and be happy forever!

You know when it's all got a bit indulgent when you are lying on the sofa/floor hungover, and all you can think about is green veg and how much you would like some. This was me yesterday, New Year's Day. Happy bloody new year. I grilled a load of asparagus (yeah I know it's not in season and was from Peru or something but we can't all be perfectly seasonal all the time) and devoured it with glee, with a bit of olive oil, salt and lemon juice. Simple. And I felt better. My body hadn't quite forgiven me for drinking the crate of Cava the night before but we were getting there. Veg is good and although I eat a fair bit, I need more. I want to think of it less of something on the side of my meat, boiled quickly and without much thought, and more of part of the main event. Fear not, I am not going to suppress my carniverous side but try to eat more veg and enjoy it in interesting and new ways.

Sad sprouts
Look at these sprouts. They look so sad an un-appetising, and have never been top of my list. I eat them becuase they are good for me and The Boyfriend loves them. I don't like them on their own, but with a nice salty partner, classic sprouts and pancetta at Christmas is great, but why just Christmas? I saw something on telly the other day where they were really finely sliced and used in a sort of fritter and I couldn't believe I had never thought to do something like that. They are really mini-cabbages, and when sliced up take on a whole different persona, and are great in anything from stir-fries to pasta. Even when they are a few weeks old and bit wrinkly, just take off the outer leaves and it's good as new.

This recipe for sprout and broccoli pasta was a ready steady cook moment, really couldn't be arsed to go to the shops but we were both starving hungry and needed a quick lunch. Everything is done in the time it takes for the pasta to boil. Feeds 2. Get enough pasta for 2 boiling away, I used linguine this time, but only because it was all I had. Take a handful of brussels sprouts (yep just found out it's brussels, not brussel!), trim, remove any skanky bits and finely slice. Take a handful of broccoli florets and also slice finely, you want it to cook quickly. If I was making this just for me I would have finely sliced most of the 'trunk' of the broccoli as I love it, but that would have been a step too far for The Boyfriend. Toast a handful of pine nuts in a dry frying pan until golden. Eat a few while still hot. Don't burn your mouth or fingers. In a medium saucepan, heat a splash of olive oil and gently fry the sprouts, broccoli, a chopped chilli/pinch of chilli flakes and a sliced clove of garlic until softened but still with a little bite. Add a splash of white wine and let it bubble away for a minute. Add a tbsp creme fraiche/single cream and a handful of grated parmesan. Season with lots of black pepper. Drain the pasta, but add a splash of the cooking water to the pan with the veg, add the pasta to the veg pan with the pine nuts and mix well. Dig in.

I am aware this is a very simple and basic pasta recipe but this time last year I wouldn't have used sprouts in that way, and I wanted to share it! It's a good 'use up the dregs in the fridge' recipe, just chop up whatever veg you have and go with it. It's so good The Boyfriend didn't even notice there was no meat in it...

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