Category Archives: spinach

Garden Gratin

Jerusalem artichokes are easy to grow, they’re part of the sunflower family and are very undemanding on the gardening front. Pop the tubers into the ground and after that they pretty much look after themselves.

We grew Jerusalem artichokes last year and then forgot about them until last week when I went on an exploratory dig and discovered lots of knobbly roundish roots. They were in great condition and there are plenty of them. It’s presented the dilemma of what two do with them. Luckily they don’t all need to be eaten at once , they look quite comfortable in the bucket, muddy but dry, and will hopefully sit for a while whist we eat them up.

First up I made a gratin. I mixed some with potatoes, spinach, leeks and Tallegio cheese. This was adelightful combo, creamy, cheesy and very tasty with the sautéed leeks and spinach layered through and perfect eating for this weeks wet and wild weather. We ate the gratin after a beetroot and blood orange salad which is why the plate is pink.

One of the properties of Jerusalem artichokes is that they have a high content of inulin. Inulin has lots of dietary bonuses; plenty of fibre which in turn is helpful in managing diabetes, constipation and general gut health but they really should come with a warning. These powerful vegetables have great flavour but are also very windy. All that fibre causes mighty flatulence. Our duvet almost hit the ceiling when we went to bed. I guess it’s the type of vegetable to be only eaten with close family or friends – they aren’t known as fartichokes for nothing. Apparently if you eat them little and often you can override this side affect so I guess we need to proceed through the stash and see what happens.

The gratin was delicious!

Garden Gratin

600g potatoes

600g jerusalem artichokes

1tbs olive oil

250g fresh spinach

2-3 leeks

25g butter

a small bunch of thyme

300mls cream

250g Tallegio cheese

salt and pepper

Peel the potatoes and artichokes then slice very thinly. Put them into a big bowl. Drizzle over little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and add the thyme. Toss well .

Clean the leeks then slice small. Wash the spinach and trim any big stalks. Put a saucepan with little butter on the heat, add the leeks and when it begins to sizzle turn the heat low and cover with a lid. Shake very couple of minutes until the leeks soften then stir in the spinach. Cover again with the lid and cook for 2-3 minutes until the spinach has wilted down. Season with salt and pepper.

Pre heat the oven 190c

Rub a little butter or olive oil around a gratin dish put in a layer of half the potatoes and artichokes then add the spinach and leeks. Break the tallgio into small pieces and distribute over the top then layer up the remaining potatoes and artichokes.

Put the cream into a small saucepan and bring too the boil. Pour the cream over the vegetables. Cover the gratin dish with a piece off aluminium foil then bake for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the top of the gratin is golden.

Allow to sit for 10 minutes before eating. The ideal amount of time to consume a salad.


Excited About Chickpeas

I’m not sure where the chickpeas we can usually obtain come from but generally they are old. Old and hard and take a very long time to cook so when I saw that the olive guys in our local Neighbourhood Food had imported chickpeas and pinto beans I had to try them.

I’m always on the lookout for good chickpeas – I’m possibly one of the only people that travel home from Spain with dried chickpeas in my bag. A true chickpea geek. Big fat chickpeas that only take 30-40 minutes to cook make me very happy. They obviously haven’t been sitting about in dusty depots for months on end.

I cooked some of the above prize chickpeas this morning after soaking them overnight. The weather was awful – torrential rain – it seemed pretty obvious that what we needed was warming sustenance so I made this dish. I’m never quite sure whether it’s a soup or a stew but the recipe is an old favourite. Sometimes I make it with spinach and sometimes with kale, depending on what I have and on the tomato front just use the best you have – fresh or canned. One thing is for sure – you will have a delicious bowl of bright nutrition to beat the rainy day blues.

And the new chickpeas cooked up a dream.

Chickpeas, Spinach and Coriander

250g dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight – or 2 cans

2 onions – peeled and finely chopped

100mls olive oil

2 stems celery- diced

3-4 carrots- peeled and diced

3 cloves garlic- peeled and finely chopped

1-2 chillies (Optional) – chopped finely

2 big tomatoes or 1 can – chopped

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander

800mls vegetable stock/chickpea liquor

1 bunch spinach or kale – 2 big hanfdfuls when shredded

1 bunch fresh coriander – parsley or chervil work too if that’s what you have

salt and black pepper

Put the chickpeas to cook. Drain and cover with water. Bring to the boil then cover and turn to a simmer. Cook until tender – anything between 30 mins and 3 hours , depending on the vintage of your chickpeas. Take off the heat and reserve the cooking liquor.

Heat a large saucepan then add the olive oil and chopped onions followed by the celery and carrots . I chop and add in that order, adding a little salt as I go. Cook the vegetables on a medium heat until they begin to melt down but don’t brown.

Stir in the garlic and chilli, cook for a couple of minutes then stir in the tomatoes. Let the tomatoes melt down then add about 800mls reserved chickpea liquor or vegetable stock or a mix of the two. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 20 minutes. It’s up to you whether you eat this a s stew or soups add more stock if needed

This is when I popped up the garden and picked some spinach and chervil. The recipe does call for coriander but our coriander is in animated suspension at the moment but we do have a healthy amount of chervil Basically use what you have!

Wash the spinach and remove any thick stems then gather it up and chop into thin ribbons. Stir this into the pot, allow everything to return to the boil then take off of the heat. Taste and add salt and ground black pepper. I use a hand held blender to give the soup a couple of buzzes – very quickly – just enough to create a little background creaminess. Chop the herbs and stir in.

Admittedly this makes a large pot but I put a picture up on the family WhatsApp and it was soon devoured!

It’s ideal to share but it would also freeze well


Torta Pasqualina

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