Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Recipe corner: Turnip spaghetti with garden pesto and Parmesan cream

We got a new toy for Christmas. Now, don't worry, I'm not about to go all mung bean and green juice on you but I have to say I LURVE our new spiraliser. For one thing, it reminds me of a Play Doh factory. For another, it is a fun way to incorporate vegetables into dishes. And for yet another, it allowed us to recreate a dish that we ate at Restaurant Sat Bains last year and which I nominated as one of my plates of the year.

I'm really proud of our approximation. It tastes pretty close to the real thing but is as easy as anything to make and involves consuming a huge portion of veg. That is not to say that is particularly diet friendly - the pesto requires a fair amount of oil and there is a decent whack of Parmesan...however, as ever, I think it worth it.

A word on the pesto - the recipe is vague and that is because it is really all about using the herbs you have to hand in the proportions that taste good to you. It will probably be different every time you make it, and that's OK. We make ours in a little Kenwood mini chopper (which, incidentally, is another kitchen gadget that is well worth a purchase - we use ours practically daily) but at the restaurant, it was made in a pestle and mortar at the table for added theatre. Either method works well.


For the pesto:

A good big handful of green herbs - any you like. Tonight, for example, we used safe, thyme and rosemary with a little bit of basil and parsley. It's a question of what is available and what you like.
Olive oil - up to 100ml
15g finely grated Parmesan
Fat clove of garlic
Half a slice of bread

For the Parmesan cream:

1 onion, roughly chopped
15g butter
Bay leaf
100ml dry white wine
200ml chicken stock
30g Parmesan
2 tbsp fat free Greek yoghurt

For the spaghetti:

One swede (spiralised) (celeriac also works, and Sat Bains used kohlrabi if you can get hold of that)
Small knob of butter

In a mini chopper, or pestle and mortar, reduce the herbs to a thick paste, then add the garlic, Parmesan and bread to thicken. Drizzle oil until you achieve a relatively loose consistency. Set aside.

Melt 15g butter in a small pan, add the onion and a hefty pinch of salt, cover and turn the heat down as low as it will go. Sweat for 10-15 minutes, making sure it does not colour. While this is going on, make up your chicken stock and finely grate the Parmesan.

When the onion is meltingly soft, add the wine and the bay leaf and turn up the heat. Reduce until nearly all the liquid has gone and then add the chicken stock and crank up the heat a little more. Reduce by about a half and then pass through a sieve.

Return the liquid to a gentle heat and stir through the Parmesan until melted. Now remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before stirring through the yoghurt. You may still get a few white solids floating about in the liquid but fret not, just pass back through the sieve. Set aside.

Spiralise your swede and bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Add the veg and cook for around 4 minutes until tender but still with a certain amount of bite. Use the microwave to warm the Parmesan cream and to melt a small knob of butter.

Drain the swede and drizzle over the melted butter and season. Spoon the Parmesan cream into the bottom of the serving bowls, then the buttered spirals of Swede, and finally, a good dollop of the pesto (you will probably find that you have some left over which can be kept in the fridge for a few days). Eat, reflecting that not all health crazes are bad, especially when they are such excellent vehicles for butter, oil and cheese.

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