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Glorious Greens - two recipes

When the green vegetables come into season, they do so with such enthusiasm that they sometimes overwhelm the fridge... and the cook. I adore green vegetables, especially when they are organically grown and freshly picked. For me, bitter is better - rape, rocket, chickory, cavolo nero- and the rough tops of beetroots, or the bold crunchiness of silver-beet have superior flavours. Recently I tried mustard greens with orecchiete and good olive oil which was scrumptious. Any green vegetable is worth a taste. That's what I learnt from travelling in Southern Italy.

We generally grow some green vegetables in winter and friends with bigger gardens also keep us in good supply. However this year people went crazy for winter seedlings. Bunnings was bare!! With the help of Dr Google, I located Bickleigh Vale Farm which sells seedlings each Sunday at the Adelaide Farmers' Market and emailed them a plea for help! The following weekend, with good social distancing and sanitiser in hand, I visited the stall where they had kept me a small box of all the seedlings I requested. They said they had been overwhelmed with people driving from the city to get seedlings, so I was even more grateful for their kind efforts. They are now planted and on their way, along with the egg-carton seedbeds of cima di rape from an Italian seed packet we found at the bottom of a kitchen draw.

In the meantime, we are still enjoying our veggie box from Cafe Troppo.

These two recipes are both Italian, one I cook all the time as a quick and easy throw together meal when I have both greens and potatoes. It appears in Rachel Roddy's book, Two Kitchens. The second is a delicious rice and spinach savoury torta (cake) from the Marcella Hazan's book Marcella's Kitchen. The beauty of both these recipes is that you can use any tasty green vegetable to make them, whatever you have around and takes your fancy. A mixture of greens is always best.

Greens and potatoes

Take a good bunch of green leaves, silver beet or spinach, beetroot tops etc and wash them well and roughly chop them. Peel and cut potatoes in reasonably large pieces and boil them in salted water until they are soft. Heat olive oil in a pan, fly a clove of chopped garlic and a chopped chilli, then add the greens with only the water left on the leaves and cook until the leaves have wilted and are soft. Add the cooked potatoes and cook together for a minute or so. Pour in good quality extra virgin olive oil and mix and add salt to taste.

Greens and rice torta

large bunch of greens. (between 500 and 900g)

200g rice (Marcella uses long grain, I use Alborio)

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

50g grated Parmesan cheese

1/8 teaspoon of grated nutmeg

4 eggs

toasted breadcrumbs

a 25cm loose bottomed cake tin

Wash the greens well, put into a covered pan with only the water on the leaves and some salt. Cook until tender, drain and when cool, squeeze out as much liquid as you can and cut up coarsely.

In another pan, bring water to a boil, add salt and when it is boiling again, add the rice and cook until it's tender but still firm. Drain and set aside.

Put the oil in the pan and cook the onion until it is pale gold. Add the greens and rice and cook them together stirring frequently for about 3 minutes until everything is well combined. Put this mixture in a bowl and allow to cool.

When cool, add the grated cheese, nutmeg and the eggs and some ground black pepper.

Grease the cake tin and sprinkle it with breadcrumbs.

Pour the mixture into the tin and sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs, more grated Parmesan and a good drizzle of oil.

Bake in a oven at 230 degrees for 15-20 minutes or when the torta is solid and brown around the edges and on top.

This torta can be eaten hot, warm or cold. It's very nice with a light tomato sugo.

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