Beautiful Green

20th July 2012

Its name might be Italian – but it is in the fields of Lincolnshire that sweet long stem bellaverde® broccoli is grown and picked (by hand) from early June to the end of November. The young shoots are harvested after just ten days of growth, capturing a unique fresh taste, and are in store in as little as 24 hours.

Similar in appearance to the traditional wild broccoli Cime di Rapa, eaten by our ancestors, bellaverde® was developed to have a less bitter taste than traditional broccoli. As a true ‘pure broccoli’, rather than a cross with another vegetable, bellaverde® also has all the original health-boosting superfood qualities: high in vitamin C, fibre and the B vitamin folate as well as being a source of potassium. Taking just three minutes to cook, bellaverde® is a must-have vegetable for the time-pressed cook, and nothing is wasted as the whole floret can go into the pan. Toss the stems in olive oil and chargrill on the barbecue, or simply steam whole and drizzle with your choice of dressing for an easy but delicious side dish.

To celebrate the start of the British season here are three new mouth-watering summery dishes featuring bellaverde® (Italian for ‘beautiful green’) – a quick and easy warm salad, a Mediterranean inspired tart and a light lemon and parmesan risotto; perfect for al fresco dining on a balmy summer’s day.

With its crunchy textures and spicy kick from the chilli and ginger, Warm bellaverde® and Mackerel Salad with Spiced Orange and Hazelnut Dressing (see below) is sure to be a favourite for summer barbecues and suppers. For a delicious vegetarian option, try sprinkling cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and pine nuts onto a sheet of puff pastry, topped off with bellaverde® for bellaverde®, feta, cherry tomato and pine nut tart;for some Italian inspiration try a bellaverde®, Parmesan and Lemon Risotto for a light lunch or supper.

Bellaverde® and Mackerel Salad with spiced orange and hazelnut dressing

prep: 5 mins • cook: 5 mins • serves 4

200g bellaverde® • 3 tbsp sunflower oil • 40g blanched hazelnuts, roughly chopped • 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed • 4 spring onions, chopped • 2.5cm pice root ginger, finely chopped • 1 red chilli, deseeded & chopped • 1 clove garlic, chopped • zest & juice 1 orange • Season with salt & pepper to taste • Flaked mackerel to serve

1 Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the whole bellaverde® stems and cook for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander, running in cold water to refresh. Leave to drain.

2 Heat a teaspoon of the oil in a nonstick frying pan, add the hazelnuts and coriander seeds and fry for 1-2 minutes until the nuts are golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

3 Add the rest of the oil to the pan, add the spring onions, ginger, chilli and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the orange zest and juice and stir well. Remove from the heat.

4 Arrange the bellaverde® on a serving platter, scatter over the toasted nuts and seeds then drizzle the dressing over. Serve with flaked mackerel.

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Bellaverde®, parmesan and lemon risotto

prep: 5 mins • cook: 25 mins • serves 4

1.2 ltrs hot vegetable or chicken stock • 25g butter • 1 onion, chopped • 1 clove garlic, crushed • 350g arborio rice • 150ml dry white wine • zest & juice 1 lemon • 200g Bellaverde® broccoli • 50g Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, grated • a handful of rocket leaves to serve • Season with salt & pepper to taste

1. Place the stock in a medium pan and keep hot on a low heat. Melt the butter in a large pan, add the onion and garlic and saute for 3 mins or until soft but not coloured.

2 Stir in the rice until the grains are coated in butter, then add the white wine, lemon zest and juice and cook, stirring until the liquid has been absorbed.

3 Add a ladle of the hot stock and cook, stirring occasionally until the liquid has been absorbed. Repeat adding the stock, cooking and stirring occasionally until three quarters of the stock has been used.

4 Cut the bellaverde® stems into 5cm pieces and add to the rice with a little salt and plenty of ground black pepper. Continue to cook, adding the stock as before until the grains of rice are plump and tender about 20 mins. The risotto should still be quite saucy add a little more water if it seems a bit stodgy. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese, then adjust the seasoning to taste. Serve straight away topped with some fresh rocket leaves if liked.

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Bellaverde®, Feta, Cherry Tomato and Pine Nut Tart

prep: 10 mins • cook: 20-25 mins • serves 6

200g bellaverde® • 1x320g sheet of ready rolled puff pastry • beaten egg to glaze • 100ml tomato & chilli pasta sauce • 150g feta cheese, cubed • 100g cherry tomatoes, halved • 2 tbsp pine nuts • a little olive oil to drizzle • Season with salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (Fan 200°C/425°F/Gas 7). Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the bellaverde® broccoli and cook for 3 mins. Drain in a colander, running in cold water to refresh. Leave to drain.

2 Unroll the pastry and place on a large baking tray. Use a knife to mark a 4cm border around the edge of the rectangle, brush this with beaten egg.

3 Spread the sauce inside the marked border, arrange the broccoli spears on top. Scatter over the feta cheese, tomatoes and pine nuts. Drizzle a little oil over the top of the ingredients and season with black pepper. Bake for 20-25mins or until the pastry is golden.

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