As I write this, the leaves from next door’s Sycamore tree are falling on our lawn. This morning I unpacked wood into the woodstore, and then stood on a wonky little chair to shake a few cookers off our tree in time for a lunch time crumble. The vegetable garden is bedraggled- and worn, and tired, and in need of a jolly good rest, which is, quite frankly how I feel at this time of year. However, what the vegetable garden is still providing in great vibrant numbers is kale, and rainbow chard- and beetroot too, which, safe from the slugs, I am going to leave in the ground a little longer this season, in the hope that they grow fatter before I pick them.
Today’s bake is a bowl of fragrant and heady comfort, of sharp and warming pimenton cheese sauce, dark greens and bubbling mozzarella & cherry tomatoes. It is easy, and goes with pretty much anything: we are having ours today with a lemon roast chicken, orange & sage carrots and rosemary roast beetroot (ok, I MAY have picked a few beetroot today- just a few though. I couldn’t resist). Of course, Cavolo Nero, or baby spinach can be used in place of my chard and kale- just use 200g of whatever greens you have to hand, to the proportions of my sauce.
I serve this with toasted pine nuts as well.
Serves 4 as a side
Preheat oven to 180 degrees
200g kale and chard, washed and drained and roughly chopped
60g salted butter
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp Maldon salt
Good grinding black pepper
1 heaped tsp Pimenton
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, microplaned
1 heaped tbsp flour
1/4 cup microplaned parmesan, and a little extra to sprinkle over just before grilling
1/4 cup grated cheddar
500ml full fat milk
220g mozzarella, ripped up
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
Toasted pine nuts, to serve.
Steam the chard and kale briefly: for about 4 minutes, on a hot fast steam. Remove from the heat and place in an ovenproof dish.
Make the cheese sauce. In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and oil, and sauce the garlic and onion for 8 minutes or so. Add the Pimenton, and flour, and stir until it is slightly bubbling. Begin to add the milk slowly, whisking as you go. Add the cheeses, and salt and pepper, and the rest of the milk, and whisk on a medium heat for about 5 minutes.Pour the sauce over the chard and kale, and mix well. Dot the ripped up mozzarella over the top, and the halved cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with a little microplanes or grated parmesan cheese, and pop under a hot grill, or in that preheated oven, for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and bubbling on top. Allow to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.
Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts when you’re ready to serve.