Warm salad of cime di rapa & roast aubergines with chillies, Knockalara sheep’s cheese, and a citrus-pomegranate dressing
While we’re still using the winter staples like roots, savoy and the last of the pumpkins, the hint of heat in the March sunshine means there are a few more plants taking a gamble on Spring. As well as the sprouting broccoli that finally arrived halfway through last month, we’ve now also got some cime di rapa coming in from Gortnanain. Also known as broccoli raab and a host of other names, this is another sprouting green with that invigorating combination of bitter leaves and a touch of sweetness in the stalks and flowering head.
The recipe below will work with any fresh green, including kale, spinach, chard, mustard leaves, but the darker, stronger ones will work best with the sweetness in the dressing.
In Paradiso, we serve this as a starter, but it is also good as part of an antipasti plate or, in a slightly bigger portion, as a light lunch with some crusty bread.
For 4 as a starter:
For the citrus-pomegranate dressing
zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
juice of 1 lemon and ½ orange
200ml olive oil
seeds from 1 pomegranate
1 medium aubergine
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
2 fresh red chillies, thinly sliced
400g cime di rapa
120g Knockalara fresh sheep’s cheese, crumbled
Make a dressing by blending together the zest, juice and olive oil.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 5.
Slice the aubergine into rounds about 1cm (½ in) thick. Brush these on both sides with olive oil and roast them on a baking tray in the oven for about 8-10 minutes until lightly coloured, turning once if necessary. Quarter these slices and set aside.
In a shallow pan, heat a little olive oil over medium heat and put in the shallots, chillies and cime di rapa. Cook for 3–4 minutes, stirring, then add the aubergine pieces. Stir briefly and remove the pan from the heat. Add some of the dressing, and divide the vegetables between four plates. Scatter the cheese over and around each dish, then do the same with the pomegranate seeds and a little of their juice. Finally, sprinkle some more of the dressing over everything, and serve.