Recipe: Orrechiette with Wild Garlic Pesto and Charred Broccoli

I made this dish just before lockdown, and then again in lockdown (but the pictures are from the first time I made it). It’s a perfect example of the kind of homemade food I want to highlight right now; inexpensive, nutritious and it allows for substitutions.

I was lucky to get hold of wild garlic even in lockdown (from Natoora and Natoora via Ocado) and it made me incredibly happy. If you live in an area where it grows you might still be able to forage for it, but you can of course use regular pesto (any green pesto in fact) in its place.

I use almonds in my pesto which makes it a little sweeter so charred flavours pair really well. (That’s how I got the idea for this dish in the first place). And the reason I used orecchiette was because I had some in the cupboard, but I also find it’s a good pasta shape to use with pesto. But you can use any similar pasta shape, I think the key here is that it’s not too big or too long.

Orrechiette with wild garlic pesto and charred broccoli, serves 2

250 g orrechiette

3 tbsp wild garlic pesto

mild olive oil

50 g grated parmesan

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

200 g tenderstem broccoli

salt and pepper

Boil the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Trim the broccoli. Keep 2 stems whole and chop the others into 2 cm long pieces. Blanch all the broccoli quickly. Drain and transfer to a hot and dry frying pan and cook for a few minutes on each side until slightly charred. Set aside.

Drain the pasta and reserve half a mug of pasta water. Transfer the pasta back to the saucepan but take it off the heat. Add pesto, a little olive oil and pasta water if needed. Mix until every piece of pasta is coated. Add more water if not loose enough and place on heat while stirring for a minute or so if too watery. Add half the parmesan and half the lemon zest. Add the small pieces of broccoli and mix well. Season and place in bowls. Add a long broccoli stem to each bowl. Scatter with parmesan and lemon zest.

Aloha April!

It’s definitely a little strange, welcoming a new month while in lockdown. But I’m happy it’s spring. It would have been so much worse dealing with this during the darker months. Even though only people with gardens can be outside as much as they want, it still makes me happy to see blue skies and flowering trees from inside the flat or on my walks.

And as spring has sprung, so has the produce. Asparagus is now in season, just like jersey royals, nettles, early strawberries from France, artichokes, spinach and broccoli. And it makes me so happy! I know food shopping isn’t as easy as it used to be, but if you manage to put your hands on some fresh seasonal produce, I hope you can find inspiration here. And even if you can’t, I still hope these suggestions can provide a momentary distraction or some inspiration for the future.

I am most excited about the arrival of the asparagus, so let’s start there.

This pizza with asparagus and wild garlic pesto is lovely as a main course or even as a starter. It literally tastes of spring!

This asparagus starter with wild garlic mayonnaise and parmesan has become one of my signature dishes, and I will never tire of it. It’s super simple to make but still makes an impression.

For a more hearty dish, this asparagus risotto is lovely and although filling it feels light!

Moving on to artichokes, best enjoyed freshly boiled with butter!

Another favourite ingredient is the humble new potato. In Sweden these are celebrated at midsummer but in the UK they come much earlier. And although I love them freshly cooked with just butter and dill (or cold with a little butter) they are so versatile! Serve them with asparagus, in a potato salad with wild garlic pesto. Divine with any barbecued meats or a roast chicken.

This new potato salad with pears and blue cheese is really different but so gorgeous!

Fresh spinach is also in season, and I love to eat it wilted with fluffy gnocchi and a creamy stilton sauce.

Or with baked eggs and mushroom in this delicious brunch dish!

Last but not least, British broccoli is here too. And I love it served with a poached egg and a delicious sauce. Perfect for brunch, lunch or as a starter!

These broccoli parmesan fritters is another fun way to eat broccoli. It’s delicious but also a great way to get little ones to eat their greens. Perfect for lunch!

Hope you all have a lovely April!

Recipe: broccoli cheddar soup

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I love broccoli! Which you can see in the archives here at Scandelights. And luckily broccoli is one of those rare vegetables that both taste nice AND is good for you. Hurrah!

This soup, however, might be more good for the soul than the waist, as it has a hefty amount of cheese in it. But, isn’t that what we need this time of year?! Something warm and comforting in a bowl, that’s both delicious and nutritious (thanks to the broccoli).

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Broccoli cheddar soup, serves 4-6

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.

4 tbsp butter

1 small onion, finely chopped 

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

60 ml plain flour

120 ml milk

120 ml cream

950 ml vegetable or chicken stock (from a good quality cube is fine) 

1 bay leaf

salt and black pepper

565 g broccoli, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

225 g grated mature cheddar + extra for garnish

Melt the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes, then gradually whisk in the milk and cream until smooth. Add the stock, bay leaf, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Add the broccoli and carrot to the pan and simmer until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and adjust seasoning if needed, but keep in mind the cheese will add some salt as well. Mix the soup with a stick blender to your desired texture. Back on the stove, add cheese and whisk until melted, about 1 minute.

Serve in bowls, garnished with grated cheddar. Serve with crusty bread. 

Recipe: broccoli cheese

 

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We all know cauliflower cheese, right?! The lovely side dish almost mandatory at any British Sunday lunch.

Now just substitute the cauliflower with broccoli. Why? Well, mainly because then I can eat it. My stomach rules my life and has decided cauliflower is out of the question. Obviously I obey, as it’s pretty painful not to.

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But, I also discovered that using broccoli instead of cauliflower made the whole dish a lot lighter, even though the brassica is more or less covered with a heavy and delicious cheese sauce. And, served on it’s own with either some wild garlic bread, a few slices of prosciutto or a salad to make it more of a meal, it’s a perfect summer supper. Satisfying, healthy-ish (thanks Bon Appetit for coining this term) and lovely.

 

Broccoli cheese, serves 2 as a main course

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s excellent cauliflower cheese recipe.

2 medium heads broccoli

4 tbsp butter

4 tbsp plain flour

2 tsp Coleman’s mustard powder

salt and black pepper 

475 ml milk, whole milk or semi-skimmed

155 g grated strong cheddar

Pre-heat oven to 200C.  Trim broccoli and remove the core. Cut into 1 to 2-inch florets. Par-boil for 6 to 7 minutes until firm but tender. Drain and spread florets on a towel so that it can wick out as much moisture as possible. 

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to combine; cook for 1 minute to ensure you get rid of the floury taste. Add mustard powder and black pepper. Drizzle in milk in a thin, steady stream, whisking the whole time so that no lumps form. Season with salt and bring mixture to a simmer while stirring with a whisk. The mixture should thicken. Reserve 2 tbsp of the cheddar and add the rest to the sauce a handful at a time, letting each handful melt before adding the next. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Place the broccoli florets in an ovenproof dish. Spoon over sauce  and sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp cheese. Bake until until bronzed and bubbly, about 30 minutes. 

 

 

Orzo pasta with wild garlic pesto, courgette and feta

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I snapped this picture as I was throwing this pasta together for lunch the next day, but I must say it exceeded my expectations so much I wish I had allowed myself time to take a nicer picture.

This is another dish where the sum is (much) greater than the individual parts; it’s just a simple dish that works. I love every bite of the slightly al dente pasta coated in fresh wild garlic pesto, the crunch from the raw thinly sliced baby courgettes, the bigger bits of tender-but-not-too-tender broccoli and the slightly melted pieces of tangy feta. I urge you to try it for your next picnic, barbecue or quick weekday supper.

Orzo pasta with wild garlic pesto, courgettes and feta, serves 2

200 ml orzo 

2-3 tbsp wild garlic pesto

1 baby courgette, thinly sliced

4 stems tenderstem broccoli 

100 g feta

a little olive oil if needed 

salt & pepper

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Put the broccoli in boiling salted water and cook until a little tender but still al dente and cut each stem into four. Drain the pasta in a sieve and pour it back into the empty saucepan. Stir in the pesto and add a little olive oil if needed. Add the courgette slices and the broccoli. Mix together and season to taste. Add the crumbled feta and stir once more before serving. 

Chicken noodles

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Most people probably already have a go-to chicken noodle or stir fry recipe, but not me. So I looked at one of Jamie’s and then amended it a little (that’s usually how I roll). The result was a nice mixture of soft noodles and chicken, crunchy carrots and peanuts and freshness from lime and coriander. And like most stir-fries, it takes mere minutes to make.

Chicken noodles, serves 2

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s recipe.

oil for frying

1 garlic clove, chopped

a few spring onions, chopped

1/2 red chilli, finely chopped

1 lime, cut into wedges

2-3 chicken thigh fillets

1 carrot, cut into matchsticks

1/2  broccoli crown, cut into small florets 

2 egg noodle nests

1 tbsp soy sauce

1/2 tbsp fish sauce

a handful peanuts

1/2 bunch coriander, finely chopped

salt & pepper

Cook the noodles according to the packet. Rinse and put aside.

Heat up the oil in a wok or large frying pan. Trim the chicken and cut into bite size pieces. Fry them until golden. Add salt and pepper. Then add garlic and chilli to the pan and thereafter spring onions, carrot pieces and broccoli. After a minute or so, add the noodles and heat up.  Add soy and fish sauce, squeeze some lime and season to taste. Top with peanuts and coriander. Serve with lime wedges. 

Broccoli parmesan fritters

Just like Deb at Smitten Kitchen I love fritters and her recipe for broccoli parmesan ones is really good. Eating them on their own their nice enough, but serve with a super easy sauce with creme fraiche, parmesan and lemon zest and this is amazing. Promise!

Eat these for lunch, supper or cook them for your friends at brunch. Just make them, ok?!

Broccoli parmesan fritter, serves 4

Adapted after  Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.

ca 225 g broccoli

1 egg

65 g plain flour

30 g grated parmesan

1 small garlic clove

1/2 tsp salt

black pepper

oil for frying

Cut the broccoli stem into pieces and divide the crown into florets. Bring to the boil in salted water and let it cook for 3-4 minutes if you like them firm, a few more minutes if a bit softer. Drain. 

Beat the egg in a bowl and add the cheese, garlic, flour, salt and pepper. Mix the broccoli in a food processor or mash with a potato masher. Add to the mixture.

Fry in oil on medium heat. Serve with a cold sauce. 

Cold sauce with parmesan and lemon

200 ml creme fraiche

2 tbsp grated parmesan

1/2 lemon, the zest

salt and pepper

Mix and serve. 

Broccoli and Stilton soup

This soup is not Scandinavian at all, but something I have embraced in my new country. The combination of sweet broccoli and tangy stilton is lovely and makes this soup both filling and comforting (no wonder considering the amout of cheese…)

Although containing a lot of cheese, there is just a hint of Stilton in the flavour, and that is exactly how I like it, and this way you can serve it to non-Stilton lovers too.

 

Broccoli and Stilton soup, serves 4

750 g broccoli, including the stem, cut in small pieces

water

600-700 ml homemade chicken stock, hot

50 ml water

150 ml single cream

75 g Stilton

salt, white pepper

Cook the broccoli until very soft in salted water. Drain. Add the stock and blend until smooth. Add water and cream and bring to the boil. Add the cheese (crumbled) and let it melt while stirring. Season with salt and pepper.