Winter Root Soba Noodles with Pickled Greens

IMG_3887Last night was pretty hair raising wasn’t it. 50MPH winds! The boat was all over the place. But I still managed to make this for dinner. Fortunately the wind died down by bedtime so it wasn’t a frightening night.

Over a year ago I bought a load of Black Soba noodles from Amazon and when I saw this recipe in Anna Jones – A Modern Way to Cook – I figured this dish just had to be made.

Serving this I figured I really need some different coloured bowls. Black Soba Noodles in a black bowl isn’t the best way of showing off this dish. I’ll go on a little hunt for some nice big bowls of varying colours.

This is a pretty simple dish. It can be done in 20 minutes easily – depending on your knife skills because the only real preparation is the julienning of the beetroot and the carrot and grating a bit of ginger.

Whenever I go to the shops I buy this big lump of ginger and throw 90% of it away once it’s changed to some weird blue colour. Yesterday I saw this tiny thumb sized piece and popped it on the scales in Morrisons – 3p! How cool is that!

If its fresh, buy it when you need it – and only what you need. It’s false economy otherwise.

Anyway, you fry a little grated ginger in some olive oil and then add your julienned beetroot and carrot and a little water. Wait for the water to be absorbed which softens the vegetables a little bit and then put to one side. That’s a five minute job.

Meanwhile cook the Soba Noodles as per the instruction. I just dunk mine in boiling water – leave for 5 minutes and drain them. They are pretty quick and it’s very easy to overdo them.

Also meanwhile, pick the stalks off some kale and shred it with your hands. As I’ve said before Morrisons already do bags of shredded kale, they just don’t take the stalks out – it makes all the difference to spend five minutes tidying it up. Over the kale pour some brown rice vinegar, maple syrup and a little salt. Scrunch it all up with your hands and leave it for 5 minutes. That’s your pickled greens done.

Finally you add a little more maple syrup, tamari (dark soy sauce), sesame oil, juice of a lime and some black sesame seeds to the winter vegetables and then throw in the Soba Noodles and give it all a good mix. And that’s it.

Serve it like I did with the pickled greens alongside the noodles (and a little chopped coriander garnish) and you have yourself one very tasty dish.

This dish is going to make it into my ‘make it regularly’ list. I love the simplicity and the contrasting textures. I kept my beetroot and carrot crunchy rather than over softening them – and the crunch of the vegetables is awesome alongside the noodles and the pickled kale.

The only real shame is the way the purple from the beetroot bleeds into the carrots making them a bright red. I guess this could be solved by doing them separately but them that’s more washing up! You could also have used normal soba noodles rather than black ones – but I think it is quite striking.

There are so many flavours in this dish and it is very filling and satisfying. I love kale. I really love beetroot. It’s a winner for me.

We chomped through ours whilst watching ‘Friday Night Dinner’. If you haven’t seen it – you must! You’ll wet yourself laughing. It certainly took our mind off the weather outside.

Kale, Sumac and Crispy Rice Salad

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Here’s another recipe from Anna Jones – A Modern Way to Cook.

Kale, Sumac and Crispy Rice Salad is a dish I’ve made before but not with all the correct ingredients. It was one of those where I improvised a bit when I was not really up for cooking and it wasn’t as good as it could have been. More on that later!

Unlike yesterday’s Sweet Potato and Quinoa Bowl, this dish can definitely be made in 20 minutes. It doesn’t get much simpler than this – especially if you buy your Kale from Morrisons; they sell it already shredded in bags so you don’t have to do too much.

Cook some brown basmati rice until it is ready; usually around 15 minutes – and while you are waiting do the rest.

Shred your Kale (if it isn’t already) and squeeze the juice and zest of lemon over it. Add some salt and scrunch it all together for a minute to allow the acid in the lemon to start breaking down the tough Kale.

To the Kale you add some chopped spring onions and some roughly chopped Medjool dates. Last time I made this I used some regular dates but it wasn’t so good as the dates were too firm and chewy.

When your rice is cooked, drained and cooled a bit you dry fry it in a frying pan to remove all the moisture – then fry it again in some coconut oil to crisp it up. You need to be careful here not to over crisp the rice as it become very crunchy and difficult to eat – so keep an eye on it and test it from time to time – as soon as it seems like it’s firming up turn the pan off and sprinkle with some salt.

Finally, bringing it all together, we make the dressing which is simply the zest and juice of a lime, some Sumac, and some olive oil – shaken then poured over the Kale and Crispy rice.

Crispy rice might not be everyone’s cup of tea; but it adds a lovely contrast to the Kale if you get it right – just don’t overdo it!

I loved this dish. It makes loads, and you feel like you are overeating because your bowl is so full – but then you realise it’s just Kale and power on through enjoying the citrus hit with every mouthful. I can thoroughly recommend this very easy dish.

Back to the dates; what are Medjool dates and why are they preferred in this book?

Medjool dates are picked when their ripe and juicy, and don’t last as long on the shelf, which is why they’re typically much pricier. Regular dates are picked when they’re rock solid and inedible and are then steamed for a while to loosen them up. They have a longer shelf life, and are much cheaper.

I’m lucky enough to have a Syrian supermarket on my High Street and they have lots of dates to choose from; but only one box of Medjool dates – £7.99 for a box – but it’s a big box and it will last!

 

 

Haloumi, Courgette and Mint Fritters with a Wild Rice Salad with Peas (and Green Harissa)

Last night we were supposed to meet up with an old work colleague but it didn’t work out. Just as well really given the expensive meal we had out on Monday at Hawksmoor Bar in Seven Dials.

This comforting and very filling dish comes from Mildred’s. This is the second thing I’ve cooked from their book.

We’d already had Latkes the day before – and these are similar in concept – but I really fancied them so I chose to ignore the fact that I was frying stuff off in a pan; a few extra calories and grams of fat won’t hurt once in a while. We’d have done far worse if we’d have eaten out.

One of the dangers of frying at the moment is Freya has just reupholstered our sofa on the boat with a beautiful Laura Ashley fabric. It’s quite amazing what she’s managed to achieve for a first attempt. The cushion covers are perfect; complete with contrast piping. BUT: The sofa does back on to the island unit of the kitchen. So the hob is directly above it – and any splashes from a frying pan are heading straight for the sofa.

We already have a plan to add a sort of splash back to the work surface to prevent such things but for now I just have to be extra careful. The beautiful sofa is covered in old throws – hiding all the great work – sad times!

Anyway. These fritters are pretty easy to make. You grate a slab of haloumi into a bowl, add chopped red onion, chilli, garlic, mint and lemon rind and mix together. You then add grated courgette (with all the water squeezed out of it), eggs and fresh breadcrumbs and form a blob of mixture.

Once you’ve let it rest a while you form egg sized balls (rolling them in flour) and fry them in a pan; pressing them down as you fry them to make them more patty like! I found this to be quite messy – the mixture was quite sticky – I probably could have squeezed more liquid from the courgettes – but I was being impatient.

We had 4 each together with the salad – which was pretty yummy too.

The salad is made from Wild Rice (which I couldn’t get so I used a Basmati and Wild Rice Mix), which you cook and allow to go cold, spring onions, cucumber, mint, coriander, parsley, green chillies, lemon juice and rind and frozen peas that you’ve allowed to thaw. Mix it all together its nearly done!

I didn’t thaw the peas. I chucked them in with the rice while it was cooling, much quicker!

The rice has ‘Green Harissa’ stirred through it and this takes some time to make. Once you’ve made it though you have tonnes of the stuff for future recipes as you can keep it in a jelly jar and store it in the fridge – I don’t see why it wouldn’t keep.

The Green Harissa is made by roasting a handful of green peppers in a very hot over until they pop, skinning and deseeding them and blending them together with cumin and fennel seeds, sumac, chilli fakes, coriander, mint, parsley, lemon juice and rind, spring onions, peas and garlic – oh and a lot of olive oil.

You need to blend the harissa until it is really smooth. I used my Nutribullet but it really struggled with the quantity I was blending. I tasted it and it was very runny and bitter and then I realised I’d forgotten to add the peas (I only noticed as I’d left them on the side and they were the only spare ingredient left out). After these were added it was much thicker and tasted much better!

Most of the Harissa went into a jar. You only need about 100mls for the Salad – I had over half a litre left over!

This dish took a while to make. Fortunately we’d had a snack of stuffed vine leaves from our local Syrian supermarket in Brentford ‘Al Shaaam’. They always have everything I need for the type of cooking I enjoy and they are far cheaper than Morrisons. The staff there are so friendly and helpful – even more so now that Ramadam is over!

I really recommend this dish. If you make it to the recipe you’ll have enough for 2 meals easily. It makes a lot more than you think – and as tempting as it is to go back for seconds there is that waistline to look after!