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Orecchiette with Kohlrabi and Kale

Kohlrabi is such a weird vegetable. It comes for Germany but it's found in recipes in Cyprus, Sicily, the northern part of Vietnam, Bangladesh and the Kashmir valley of India. It looks like an alien creature or even a little bit like the corona virus. It's nice raw in salads or lightly salted with a glass of good red wine. When it's boiled it has a sweet flavour like the cooked stems of broccoli. It looks like a turnip but it belongs to the Brassica family.

Orecchiete (little ears) is the pasta for the Italian Region of Puglia and even though Kohrabi is not a Puglian vegetable, I took the opportunity to combine a traditional Puglian dish of bitter greens with orecchiette with a Sicilian dish where they cook Kohlrabi (Cavoli) with a pasta shaped like little gnocchi called Causunnedda.

It worked a treat. The slightly bitter flavour of the curly kale combined beautifully with the sweetness of the kholrabi. With the pasta it took on a slightly creamy texture. Mixing in some grated Pecorino added a gentle sharpness.

The recipe

Peel and chop the bulb of one Kholrabi into bite size pieces. Take out the stems, and roughly chop about three leaves of curly kale.

Bring a big pan of water to the boil. When it is bubbling, add the vegetables and some salt. Stir and bring back to a rolling boil.

Measure out one full pasta bowl of dried orecchiette (this will make enough for two people) and put this in with the boiling vegetables. Cook together until the pasta is done, stirring regularly.

While the pasta is cooking, in a fry pan pour a generous amount of good olive oil, add some garlic and gently fry. Remove the garlic.

Drain the pasta and vegetables, heat the garlicky oil and put the pasta and vegetables in with the oil, mixing well. Take it off the heat and stir in a big handful of grated pecorino cheese and a grind of black pepper.

Serve topped with a drizzle of the very best extra virgin olive oil.

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