Lancashire superfood that counts Gwyneth Paltrow as a fan

Zuppa Toscana
Zuppa Toscana
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From Morecambe Bay shrimps and Chorley cakes to hot pots and butter pies, Lancashire is blessed with some of the best food in the country.

To celebrate the best from the county’s natural larder, the Evening Post is teaming up with Booths the supermarket for a monthly feature looking at what is in season and how to get the most out of it.

This week we give you three kale recipes guaranteed to delight lovers and sceptics alike.

The robust, ruffled green leaves of the humble kale have undergone something of a transformation. Once grown chiefly as cow fodder, it is now one of the most fashionable superfoods, worthy of endorsement from the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Bette Midler.

Actor Kevin Bacon has even been quoted as saying: “A day without kale is like a day without sunshine.”

Well, I wouldn’t go that far but this wonderful brassica deserves its superfood status. Kale contains an enormous amount of nutrients and is virtually fat free. It is also an excellent source of vitamins K, A and C.

Plus, it is cheap and best of all, local to our fine corner of the world. Booths supplier Chris Molyneux, in fact, grows some of the best kale in the country from his farm in Ormskirk.

To celebrate this versatile ingredient, we’ve put together three recipes sure to win over lovers and sceptics alike.

RECIPES

My Zuppa Toscana

Inspired by my skint university days in America, this hearty soup is nicked from a chain of Italians called Olive Garden. When you ordered a main course you’d get as much soup or salad as you could eat for a few dollars extra. I’d always fill up on this spicy sausage and kale soup and then take the main course home for the following day. I’ve been cooking a version of it ever since.

INGREDIENTS

Two cooking chorizos, roughly chopped

Bacon lardons

Three cloves of garlic, chopped

Pinch of chilli flakes

1 onion, sliced

Handful of potatoes, sliced

1.5lt of chicken stock

Few handfuls of kale, chopped

100ml single cream

METHOD

Fry the bacon lardons in a little olive oil until crispy. Remove and set aside. Add onion, garlic and chilli flakes to the same pan for a few minutes. Toss in the chopped chorizo. Give them a few minutes to release their oil. Toss in the potatoes for a few seconds and then cover with the stock. Simmer for 10 minutes till the potatoes are starting to soften. Add the kale for a few minutes, depending on how tender you like it. I like it with a bit of bite. Finish with a swirl of cream and serve with crusty bread

Penne, meatballs and kale

Inspired by a Gordon Ramsay recipe, this pasta dish is a perfect midweek, family supper sure to please everyone.

INGREDIENTS

Penne pasta

2 garlic cloves, chopped

Couple of handfuls of kale, chopped

4 tablespoons of pine nuts, toasted

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For the meatballs:

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

Pinch of chilli flakes

500g of minced beef

50g bread crumbs

METHOD

To make the meatballs, soften the onion, garlic and chilli flakes in a little olive oil. Let cool and then combine with the rest of the ingredients. Form into small meatballs and leave in the fridge to firm up for 20 minutes or so.

When you’re ready to eat, fry the meatballs evenly. Meanwhile cook the pasta in a large pan of salted water.

After about 6 minutes add the garlic to the meatballs. Add the kale and cover, to let it steam for a few minutes being careful not to let the garlic burn. Add the pine nuts towards the end.

Drain the pasta and mix with the meatballs, adding a little reserved cooking water if needed. Serve with grated Parmesan.

Kale with caramelised onions

This super easy, iron-rich side dish goes perfectly with most meats. Here I paired it with a fillet steak and peppercorn sauce.

INGREDIENTS

Olive oil

One onion, thinly sliced

Few handfuls of kale, chopped

Chopped garlic

Pinch of chilli flakes

Splash of cider vinegar

METHOD

Sauté onion in olive oil for a good 10-15 minutes, to get it nicely caramelised. Add the garlic and chilli flakes for a couple of minutes. Turn up the heat and add the kale with a splash of water. Cover and steam for a 5-10 minutes, or until tender. Season and sprinkle in the vinegar.

Chris Molyneux

Chris Molyneux of Molyneux Kale Company has been supplying Booths from his 100 hectare farm near Ormskirk for over thirty years.

His family have been farming there since the 1880s and Chris recently focussed his growing efforts purely onto kale, his favourite green to grow.

The farmer has recently been developing his own sweeter varieties of spring kale, which are ready earlier in the year than heritage varieties.

Before kale enjoyed plated popularity, Chris grew it to decorate the displays of local fishmongers.

Chris has supplied Booths with a selection of kale varieties including Green, Red Russian, White Kale and Purple Kale for the last ten years. His daughters’ school friends are hugely jealous at the mountains of kale smoothies they imagine are available in the Molyneux household.