Spring and dirty nails | Baked Savoy cabbage | Roasted baby potatoes with a parsley yoghurt sauce
What we cooked this month: Green olive and fennel pollen semolina bread, Carrot hummus, Bow-tie fresh green and yellow fresh pasta with peas, prosciutto, and cream.
We worked on two recipes with yoghurt for the Think Milk, Taste Europe, Be Smart project: Spinach and strained yoghurt tortelli and Yoghurt panna cotta with strawberries.
We opened the 2022 season of in-person cooking classes after a 2-year pause. It felt so good! but I’ll tell you more about this in the next few weeks.
We shared an Early Spring Menu with recipes, tips, and ideas, to enjoy the meal with your friends without stressing in the kitchen. Let me know in the comments below if you like this formula because, as the season proceeds, I might share more ideas from informal gatherings and cooking classes, giving you ideas, recipes, and some pro tips on organising the whole meal in advance.
I am so ready for Spring recipes, for every shade of green, around me and in the kitchen, for Easter celebrations, some gardening, and for the longer daylight hours that are making everything easier, gifting us with extra time every day.
We also want to celebrate our 360 subscribers and your precious support with an online event.
On Sunday, April 10th, we will meet online for one hour of free chats: bring your own drink, something to nibble on, and we will meet at 9 pm CEST - 3 pm EDT - 12 pm PDT. This is an event designed for those who subscribed to Letters from Tuscany, I’ll send an email with details on how to join the event next week. Save the date!
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In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. - Margaret Atwood
Kneeling on the ground, potting aromatic herbs with Livia who was spreading topsoil everywhere on the lawn, I kept repeating in my head this quote I had read somewhere. I eased into Spring with dirty nails, lifting heavy sacks of fertile topsoil, rubbing aromatic herbs in between my fingers and plotting menus around their freshness. I pointed chervil and thyme to Livia, and she plunged her face into the herbs, surprised by their smell, amused by the tickling at her nose.
I don’t know when this happened, but somewhere between January and February I had a revelation: I might love Spring, after all, actually more than winter.
If you’ve been following this blog and newsletter for a while now, you know how I feel myself during the cold season, how the cosy, reflective winter weather suits my soul and mood.
But this year I felt a mightful fascination for this season of change: delicate, gentle but steady in its continuous morphing into something new. With her downpours and blooms and tender new leaves, Spring has this reviving hopeful force that I need in my life right now.
So welcome Spring, welcome April, welcome fresh herbs, dirty nails, long days spent outside, I’ve been waiting for you.
What I’ve been cooking lately
I bake vegetables a lot. It might actually be my favourite way of cooking vegetables, as it perfectly suits my lifestyle. Working from home, I often scatter my kitchen table with my laptop, a few notebooks, pens, cutting boards, knives, and a mug of cold tea.
Baking allows me to keep doing my things - be it writing, testing other recipes on the stovetop, or kneading bread -, while stir-frying would require my undivided attention. Prooves are the many pans of leafy greens I burnt while busy polishing that perfect sentence that had just popped to my mind.
So I bake trays of vegetables whatever the season. Crisp, golden, sticky, charred here and there, delicious: they are right up my alleys. I build a meal around them, adding a slice of sourdough bread or some rice, a fried egg, some cheese, or some quickly cooked meat.
Baked Savoy cabbage
I’m not giving you exact ingredients here, just an idea of how you can treat Savoy cabbage in a different way, leaving it in the oven to caramelize, getting sweeter, crisp, with a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Would you give it a try? Serve it as a side to roasted sausages, grilled chicken breast, or a simple fried egg.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F.
Take a small Savoy cabbage, quarter it, then cut each quarter into 4 wedges.
Brush with extra virgin olive oil on a tray, then arrange the cabbage wedges on top.
Whisk together extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, chilli pepper flakes, one teaspoon of honey, and one teaspoon of mustard.
Brush the cabbage, sprinkle with fine breadcrumbs, and bake for 30 minutes. Enjoy!
In the blog archive, you can find another recipe to cook Savoy cabbage, but on the stovetop: Tuscan braised Savoy cabbage.
If, as Mark Twain has it in Pudd’nhead Wilson, ‘cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education’, cavolo nero is a cabbage with a holiday home in Tuscany. - Niki Segnit, The Flavour Thesaurus
If you’re planning to make one of today’s recipes, share the results with us on social media by using the hashtag #myseasonaltable and tagging @julskitchen on Instagram.
If you have questions about the ingredients or the recipe, if you have a special request for one of the following cooking projects, or want to have a chat, reply to this email or leave a comment.
Roasted baby potatoes with parsley yoghurt sauce
Crisp, golden-brown roasted baby potatoes are quick to make and a great side dish for baked fish, pork chops, or lamb roast. Now that Spring is coming, add fresh herbs to make them even more aromatic.
500 grams baby potatoes
2 strips lemon zest, finely sliced
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar
A handful sage leaves
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
For the parsley yoghurt sauce
150 grams whole milk yoghurt
3 tablespoons finely minced parsley
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Rub the potatoes, collect them in a medium pot, and cover them with cold water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook the potatoes until you can easily pierce them with a knife.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F.
Grease with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil a rimmed baking sheet.
Drain the potatoes, and arrange them on the baking sheet.
Smash each potato with the bottom of a mug, or glass.
Now drizzle some more extra virgin olive oil on top, add the lemon zest strips, the sage leaves, the crushed fennel seeds, salt, and pepper.
Transfer the pan to the hot oven and roast the potatoes for about 35 minutes, until nicely golden and crisp on the edges.
While the potatoes are roasting, prepare the yoghurt sauce.
In a small bowl mix the yoghurt, the finely minced parsley, and the olive oil, then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
Serve the potatoes with the parsley yoghurt sauce.
If you have leftover potatoes, collect them in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge. To reheat them, drizzle a pan with extra virgin olive oil and toss the potatoes on medium-high heat until they are crisp again.
The smoked carrot hummus with dukka was wonderful - and easy! I did find that I needed to add more olive oil in order to make it smooth enough. I'll definitely make it again!
That baked cabbage sounds so good with the dressing!