We sow our swedes around Midsummer’s Day on our more exposed fields that rise towards Dartmoor, giving slower growth and more flavour. By Christmas a good frost should have hit, which adds to the flavour; a little hardship always does.
swede, celeriac & carrots braised in olive oil
serves 4-6 as a side
This is a Turkish method, common along the Aegean coast, that’s used for cooking lots of different vegetables. The idea is to braise them slowly with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and a little sugar to concentrate and accentuate their natural flavours. It is definitely best served at room temperature, and preferably the next day. This recipe comes from Riverford Cook Anna, who likes it served as part of a mezze spread.
½ large swede (about 500g)
½ large celeriac (about 500g)
2 large carrots (about 250g)
juice of 2 lemons, or to taste
125ml good olive oil
2 tsp sugar, or to taste
1½ tsp salt, or to taste
1 fresh bay leaf
leaves and tender stems from a bunch of parsley (about 30g), chopped
leaves and tender stems from a bunch of dill (about 30g), chopped
Scrub and peel the vegetables. Cut the carrots into thickish slices on a sharp angle. Cut the swede and celeriac into 1cm slices, and then into 1cm batons. Cut these into cubes or diamonds. Put the veg into a large, wide pan and add the lemon juice, olive oil, sugar, salt, bay leaf and peppercorns. Add cold water until they are almost but not quite submerged. Cover with baking paper pressed to the surface and a lid and set over a medium heat. When it comes to a simmer, turn the heat down and cook slowly for about 1 hour, until the vegetables are completely tender. Try to avoid stirring too much so that the vegetables hold their shape. Halfway through the cooking time, taste the braising liquid and decide if it needs more lemon, oil or seasonings. When the vegetables are done, lift them out with a slotted spoon into your serving dish and discard the bay leaf and peppercorns. With the pan uncovered, boil the braising liquid until reduced and syrupy. Taste it occasionally and stop it from boiling if it’s becoming too salty. Add the herbs to the liquid, then pour it over the vegetables and let cool. Serve at room temperature.
swede, leek & bacon gratin
The leeks in this gratin could easily be replaced with boiled greens such as cabbage or kale. Leave out the bacon and it makes a flavoursome vegetarian main course.
500ml double cream
2 garlic cloves
1 large rosemary or thyme sprig
150g smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons
1–2 tbsp olive oil
3 leeks, white and pale green parts cut in rings
knob of butter (about 30g), plus extra to grease the gratin dish
1 swede, peeled and sliced paper thin (use a mandolin if you have one)
salt and black pepper
Heat the oven to 170°C/Gas 3. Put the milk, cream, garlic and rosemary or thyme in a pan over a low–medium heat. Slowly bring to a boil and then gently simmer for 5 minutes, being careful not to let it boil over. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Fry the bacon in the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat until really crispy. Add the leeks and a knob of butter and cook on a low heat for 20–30 minutes, until the leeks are soft and just beginning to caramelise. Season well with salt and pepper. Arrange half the sliced swede on the bottom of a greased gratin or shallow ovenproof dish and season. Add the sautéed leeks and then top with the remaining swede and season again. Press the layers down with the back of a spoon. Using a sieve, strain over the infused milk and cream mixture and cover the dish with foil. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour, until a blunt knife can be easily inserted through to the bottom. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes until the gratin is golden around the edges. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Top the gratin with a hard grating cheese such as Parmesan, Cheddar, pecorino or Gruyère and return to the oven for the last 10 minutes.
swede, leek & apple bake
serves 4, prep 10 mins, cook 75 mins
25g butter, plus extra for greasing
2 leeks, finely shredded
4 large (or more smaller) sage leaves
75ml white wine or apple juice
1 swede (800g-1kg unpeeled weight), peeled, cut in half lengthways, then very finely sliced
2 apples, cored, halved & thinly sliced
50g cheddar, grated
Preheat your oven to 180˚C. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the leeks on a very low heat for 12 mins, stirring now and then. Add the sage and wine or juice. Cook for 2 mins. Season with salt and pepper. Layer the swede, apple and leeks in a baking dish, finishing with swede. Cover with foil and bake for 45 mins. Remove the foil, sprinkle with cheese and bake for 15 mins until golden.
roasted swede with maple syrup
Serve this with cooked gammon ham or ham hock, thick slices of bacon, or with roast meats.
1 swede, peeled & cut into roast potato sized chunks
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200˚C/Gas Mark 6. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a flameproof baking tray or large casserole dish over a hob; add the swede and coat with oil. Carefully drizzle over 3 tablespoons maple syrup and toss well. Be careful not to catch and burn the syrup. Bake in the oven turning at intervals for 45 mins until crisp and golden.
butter-browned braised swede
This way of cooking swede is simple but really good. For vegetarians it’s ideal with a nut roast, or serve with roast chicken, pork, gammon or ham slices.
½ a medium swede, peeled, halved lengthways and then into 1½cm thick slices
a knob of butter, approx 25g
500ml veg or chicken stock
Melt the butter in a pan that will fit the swede in one layer (a medium sized, fairly deep frying pan is ideal). Cook the swede on a medium to high heat for a few mins on each side, without stirring, until golden brown. Add the stock, bring to the boil and let the swede bubble away for 20-25 mins, until it is tender and the liquid reduced to a syrupy glaze. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.