Friday, 22 July 2011

Foglie di Cavolo Rapa con Ripieno di Maiale su Crema di Fagioli e Basilico
Kohlrabi Leaf Rollade with Savory Pork Filling on a Bean and Basil Purée

You are bound to have gathered by now that I am Sicilian and being Sicilian I am loathe to let anything go to waste. Almost anything can be revamped and reloaded to become something wonderful and new- it just takes a little imagination, which is the most important ingredient in any of my recipes anyway!

So in this dish I made use of both the leftover kohlrabi leaves from last night and the beans from the night before... and who knew that the result would be so amazing? Even if I DO say so myself...

let me start off by telling you the little trick I came up with for preparing the leaves for wrapping. I hate it when they tell you to cut out the tough stalks - and of course they do need to be removed so that the leaf cooks evenly and so that it will be soft enough to roll. Or do they? I think not. Rather than cut them out, I crushed the stalks by rolling over them with a bottle (I didn't have a rolling pin handy!)- Simple. Just break down the structure of the stalk and you will find you can use your full leaf and it will all be as tender, without you having to have the thing fall apart. Pretty neat, eh?

The leaves need boiling for maybe 5 minutes. I lightly salted the water, but being as the leaves ARE a little on the bitter side, you may want to add a pinch of sugar too when you make yours. I am Sicilian so I didn't- lol! We like our bitter stuff!

Also, I find it a little exaggerated when you are always told that you need to drop your food into ice water to stop the cooking process- I have found that regular, cold tap water is more than adequate. So that is tip number 2... it just makes life a little easier in the kitchen...

So now that our leaves are ready, we can whip together our filling. This is going to take you all of 5 minutes, so I am sorry if it looks more complicated and you are disappointed! The filling is made of ground pork, finely chopped spring onion, rosemary, parsley and mint, finely chopped sun-dried tomato and black olives and some grated salted ricotta cheese. That's it- pop it all into a bowl and stir it together- add salt and pepper to taste and you are ready to go!

To shape the rolls, lay the leaves out onto a sheet of cling-film. Now, shape your ground meat into the form you want and fold the leaves up at the sides. Next, start rolling nice and tightly away from you, wrapping the leaves in the cling film as you go. As soon as you have formed your roll, start twisting the ends nice and tight to bring everything into shape... it is very easy actually- a bit like making Christmas crackers! I like to wrap them into a second layer of film, just to make sure that no water gets in during cooking- but even more, so that no juices escape!

Bring some water to the boil, drop down to a gentle simmer and float your roll in there for 10-15 minutes, flipping it over occasionally so that it cooks evenly.

And of course 10-15 minutes is more than enough time to prepare our easy and delicious purée of beans. Drain off the liquids from the can and warm the beans in a small saucepan, along with a clove of garlic, salt, pepper and nutmeg. As soon as everything is piping hot, add a generous, good handful of basil leaves, a couple of tablespoons of grated salted ricotta cheese, grate generously with nutmeg, with a little lemon zest and add a little olive oil. Use an immersion mixer if you have one or transfer everything to a blender... give it a good whizz and you are ready to serve!

I added sun-dried tomato cut into fine strips and a few capers and found this to be a really delicious combination. And if you decide to give this dish a go yourselves... I hope that you do too!

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