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Spring with a dash of late winter - pie, salad and rainbow frittata

This year has been cooler with spring coming slowly and as is the case in the time between seasons, the veggie box continues to contain savoy cabbage, rainbow silver-beet and kohlrabi but with the new additions of coriander, sweet spring carrots, shallots and small, pale zucchinis. There is Russian red kale as well which, with the spinach makes for a delicious pie. Now it will be basta! for any future kale. We have well and truly had our share of it this year and the sky is too blue and the air too warm to eat such a worthy vegetable.

The cabbage, kohlrabi and carrot inspired me to make my version of a Vietnamese Chicken salad. We gathered roast peanuts and fried shallots from the Vietnamese grocer around the corner and dug up the fish sauce from the back of the cupboard. The secret is to make the Nuoc Mam Cham sauce properly and after many attempts (and with the help of Luke Nguyen) this time I think I got it right. Sugar is the secret ingredient.

The stalks of rainbow chard are so very pretty and I love to cut them off and keep them for other things where they can shine all on their own. They make a delightfully simple risotto with glimpses of pink, red and yellow. This time I chopped them finely and with the sweet zucchini made a spring frittata.

We wait now for the season to turn properly bringing with it the late spring and early summer delights.

Here are the recipes.

Spinach, kale and ricotta pie with olive oil pastry

For the pastry

1 1/2 cups of plain flour

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of sugar

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1/4 cup of olive oil

2 large eggs

Mix together all the dry ingredients. Make a well and pour in the oil and beaten eggs. Mix with a fork then on a work surface, knead until it is smooth. Wrap it in plastic and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Roll the dough out and line a deep loose bottomed 20 cm pie dish with the pastry, leaving enough to make a top.

For the filling

A big bunch of spinach and kale - stems removed, washed and cut up

A bunch of spring onions or a few shallots

salt and pepper

olive oil

1 clove garlic

black pepper

500 grams of fresh ricotta

4 large eggs

2 tablespoons of parsley

1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 cup of grated pecorino cheese

In a large pan of salted water, cook the greens until they are cooked. Drain them well and chop finely.

In a large fry pan, put in olive oil, garlic and onions and gently cook until they are soft. Add the chopped green vegetables, stir through and leave to cool.

In a bowl put the ricotta, pecorino, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper and nutmeg and mix them together well. Add the cooled greens.

Pour the filling into the pie dish and cover with a disk of pastry. Put a few airholes in the top of the pie, brush with olive oil and bake in a moderate oven for 35-40minutes until the filling is cooked and the pie is golden brown.

This pie is good straight out of the oven but also keeps all week so you can have cold slices for lunch.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Chicken and marinade

2 skinless chicken thighs

2 tablespoons of lime juice

2 tablespoons of peanut oil

2 table spoons of soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon of fish sauce

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

2 teaspoons of crushed garlic

1 teaspoon of grated ginger

1/4 teaspoon of chilli flakes

1 tablespoon of chopped coriander

Marinate the chicken for 30 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the fridge. Grill or barbecue until it is well cooked. Rest until cool and slice into strips.

Nuoc Mam Cham

60ml of fish sauce

60ml of rice vinegar

125 ml of water

2 tablespoons of white sugar

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 finely chopped red chilli

2 tablespoons of lime juice

Put the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and water in a pan over a medium heat and stir until it is combined (don't boil). Cool it then add the garlic, chilli and lime juice.


1/4 savoy cabbage

1 kohlrabi

4 small carrots

I onion

1 large bunch of coriander

1/2 cup of chopped roast peanuts

1 tablespoon of fried shallots

Slice the onion finely and put it into a small bowl of boiling water and leave for 30 minutes.

Take a large bowl that will hold all the ingredients so you can mix them well.

Shred the cabbage finely

Julienne the kohlrabi and the carrots

Roughly chop the coriander

Put all the vegetables into a large bowl that will hold all the ingredients so you can mix them well.

Squeeze the juice out of the onion and add this.

Add the chicken and the chopped peanuts.

Gently stir all the ingredients together to combine, then add enough sauce to coat everything.

Present the salad on a platter sprinkled with the fried shallots.

Rainbow Frittata

Finely chop the stalks of a bunch of rainbow chard and 4 small pale zucchinis.

In a fry pan, put olive oil and sauté the vegetables until they are soft but not brown.

In a bowl beat four eggs, add salt and pepper and a big handful of pecorino cheese. Mix well.

Pour the egg mixture into the pan on top of the cooked vegetables and cook until nearly set. Put the pan under the grill to brown the top. Transfer onto a board or a large plate and slice up to serve.

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