(Otherwise known as Italian dumplings,London Cabbage, Scottish Mushrooms, French Walnuts and and Swiss Cheese!)
There are a collection of ingredients that evoke ‘the mountains’ for me. Despite huge cultural and gastronomical differences between the various cuisines of say the Pyrenees and the French Alps, the north of Italy and the majestic peaks of Switzerland, in my mind and experience there are some common themes and these are best characterised by cheese, cream and butter, mushrooms, and some sort of cabbage, at times sausage…but not this time. There are some fabulous dishes by Antonio Carluccio where he describes rustic mountain dishes, one that I love is cabbage cooked in stock with bread and cheese melting in it… here is the link: Zuppa di cavolo valpellinese.
I happened by Jumi cheese this week, a Swiss family cheesemaker (not Robinson) who now have available outlets in London, here is their link: Jumi Cheese London. After tasting a few options I took some aged emmental, that was intensely flavoured, piquant even and the perfect thing for my comfort dish.
We have more or less arrived at the end of the season for our little garden patch this year, but the Cavolo Nero continues doggedly sprouting it’s delicious leaves, so a pile of these deep green stems was added to the list. A few Scottish chanterelle mushrooms, a scattering of lovely walnuts and this dish more or less made itself.
The starch with which to soak up all this loveliness was to be gnocchi, one of my favourite comfort ingredients which generally I would make myself but for reasons of expediency, I chose to buy them on this occasion meaning that this dish took 20 minutes from start to plate. As I am writing I’m thinking that a meaty version of this could contain some lardons of pancetta instead of the mushrooms….
Ingredients – serves 2
1 glass white wine
4 1 inch cubes of lightly salted butter
2 tsp light olive oil, or other oil for frying
1 clove garlic, very thinly sliced
4 walnuts, finely chopped ( or 2 tsp ready chopped)
1/2 cup of double cream
4 small stems of cavolo nero (or a couple of savoy cabbage leaves)
About 10 chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned of all grit – if you want to substitute these for another kind then feel free. Dried ceps rehydrated would be a good store cupboard option.
- Put a pan of lightly salted water on to boil.
- Remove the stalks from the Cavolo Nero, and shred the leaves then set aside.
- Tear the chanterelles into about 3 parts each lengthways, melt a knob of butter and a little oil in a frying pan and add the mushrooms.
- Sautee the mushrooms until they have just a little colour and then remove them from the pan and set aside.
- Place the Cavolo Nero into the boiling water and allow the greens to cook for about 4 minutes.
- While the greens are cooking, add another knob of butter to the same frying pan and add the garlic, gently warm the garlic making sure it doesn’t start to brown or burn before adding the wine.
- Add another frying pan to the stove over a gentle heat then add a knob of butter and a drizzle of oil and after, add the gnocchi. Turn occasionally and allow them to become lightly golden whilst the rest of the dish is assembled. If they are ready a little ahead of time simply turn the heat off and warm them through again before serving.
- In the other pan, turn the heat up to high and allow the wine to bubble away until there is about a table spoon of liquid left (about 2/3 minutes) take the pan off the heat and add the cream, and a small pinch of salt.
- Return the pan to the heat and allow the cream to bubble, not boil, for a minute or so until it slightly thickens before adding the walnuts and stirring in a knob of butter, when the butter has melted add the walnuts and mushrooms warm through and turn off the heat.
- Drain the cavolo nero and scatter across your chosen plate or bowl, then scatter the gnocchi over the plate before spooning over the cream sauce.
- Finish with a grate of emmental and a few turns of black pepper.