December ended with early new season unwaxed Italian citrus in the form of Sicilian Pink Grapefruits, Oranges and Clementine Mandarins. And, of course, there were all the staples essential to the Christmas festivities. We are back from the Christmas break to get your New Year off to a healthy start with plenty of fruit and vegetables including some big-hitters when it comes to delivering vitamin C. Here is the key short-season produce you can expect to find at Puntarelle & Co in January, along with all the usual staples:
For the first week in January, we have the first Seville Oranges of the season. There are Blood Oranges too this week, the Spanish ones, as ever, arriving first. Later in the month we will have Sicilian bloods for you. Meanwhile, we do have Italian Mandarins, Clementines and Pink Grapefruit which are pretty special as it is difficult to find unwaxed Grapefruit in the UK and their skins make the most delicious candied peel. We also have fabulous Lemons from Sicily in this first week.
Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb is on its way and we expect to have it the second Saturday in January.
Pomegranates are still coming in from Italy.
We have a selection of English Apples still coming from the stores of our favourite farm in Kent, and which should be available through the winter. Some English Pears too, though they will come to an end soon as they do not store as well as apples.
Highlights on the ‘greens’ shelves this month include crunchy, mineral Italian Barba di Frate which goes so well with fish, Cima di Rapa, Broccolo Fiolare Minestra Cabbage for warming soups, bitter-leaved Chicoria and juicy Puntarelle.
There is English Rainbow Chard, Black Cabbage/Cavolo Nero, Brussels Tops, Cabbage, Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Kale.
The cold weather Chicory salad leaves are arriving in greater numbers now, including the red Radicchios like Tardivo, Treviso and yellow/cream red-speckled Castelfranco.
Camone and Marinda Tomatoes, their crunchiness and salinity should see us right through winter.
Root Vegetables include Turnips, Parsnips, Carrots , Leeks , Celeriac and Potatoes.
The fridges at Puntarelle & Co have been re-stocked with London Fermentary Ferments, including our new introduction ‘Spiced Arabica Kraut’, and Water Kefirs, in flavours of Rhubarb, Blood Orange, Sicilian Citrus. Our next Inspirational Fermentation Course is on 16 January and is a rare opportunity to learn fermentation in one day, rather than our usual 3 sessions over 3 weeks course. As I write there are only 3 places left. Visit our website for how to sign up.
Our recipe this month is the perfect way to banish all memories of Christmas over-indulgence. We may have passed the shortest day in the northern hemisphere but that only marks the start of true winter in the UK and thoughts turn to warming soups. With a good mix of vegetables, some beans, bread, a little cheese and a big hit of iron-rich greens, you have a whole nutritious meal in a bowl. What's more its flavours simply get better should you have any leftovers for the following day.
The Italian word ribollita means re-cooked, or re-boiled and every area of Italy has its own version. In Tuscany it refers to a dish of leftover minestrone (soup) with the addition of cabbage and bread. This list of ingredients is not prescriptive and if you have other vegetables to hand, it takes well to substitutions – celeriac or pumpkin, perhaps. The soup should be quite thick and hearty. The toasted bread can be completely submerged in the liquor, which is more traditional, or placed on top.
(makes about 12 servings)
250g dried Borlotti or cannellini beans, soaked overnight, brought to the boil and simmered for 1-2 hours depending on quality, or 1 x 400g tin of beans, rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
2 large carrots, diced
3-4 sticks of celery, diced
1-2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 medium leeks, halved and sliced
2 medium potatoes
2 large handfuls (about 500g) of Broccoli Fiolare (minestra cabbage), cavolo nero or other cabbage, shredded
1 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes
Water to cover
Slices of good sourdough bread or baguette
Best quality extra-virgin olive oil to serve
Having first prepared your beans, fry the onions carrot and celery on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the leeks, garlic and the potatoes and fry for a further 5 minutes. Add the plum tomatoes, broken up, with their juice and add water (do use the cooking water from the beans if you have it) to fully cover the vegetables. Add the cooked (or drained) beans, bring to the boil, season, then simmer for 30 minutes. Add the cabbage and simmer for a further 15 minutes, top-up with more water if necessary but keep the soup quite thick. Check the seasoning.
Allow the soup to cool a little to appreciate the full flavours. When ready to serve, fill the bowls, top with toasted sourdough bread or pour the soup over the bread and add a good slick of your best olive oil. You may want Parmesan cheese on the table.