With this simple dish you make the most of sweet seasonal roots and the robust taste of winter leaves. Easy to cook in just one pot: it's on your plate in just 15 minutes from the first ingredient hitting the water. And you get a grand flavoured stock to use for soup as a by product. It's a very healthy dish, with lots of fibre from the veg and wholemeal pasta.
It's the perfect meal from the permaculture kitchen.
If you grow your own, you can use bits and bobs of roots, shoots and leaves from over-wintering crops. You can also use foraged leaves such as bittercress, chickweed and nettles.
If you buy your vegetables at the market, this meal is a frugal way to use a mix of vegetables left over from other meals. It's also a way to use up scraps of cheese from ricotta and cheddar to parmesan.
It's inspired by the Italian mountain dish cooked with the buckwheat pasta called pizzoccheri. It's a simpler recipe and uses much less cheese and butter.
I like to 'paint' with ingredients: use different colours, textures and flavours in dishes.
Here's what I collected on a wander through my garden. I have red and green cabbage leaves from the stumps of cut cabbage, pak choi that has flowered, celery leaves, chard, baby turnips (use the good leaves too), red and green mustard leaves, chicories, stored potatoes and carrots.
For leaves, you could use spinach, green/red/white cabbages, chinese leaves of all sorts, cauliflower and kales. For the roots, you could also use parsnips, celeriac, swedes, winter radishes and similar. Just make sure that the age of the roots means that they will cook in about 10 minutes when in 1cm dice.
For the cheese, you can use a soft cheese as I have below, firm cheese like cheddar or harder cheeses like pecorino and their veggy/vegan alternatives. See what you have available.
For 4-6 people you'll need about:
1kg mixed vegetables, a big handful or two of which are roots, the rest leaves
200-300g of short wholemeal pasta such as penne
200-250g of cheese. I used a goat's milk kefir ricotta. Grate any solid cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Dried chilli flakes
Check how long the pasta needs to cook. It'll probably be about 10-12 minutes.
Wash and scrub the vegetables as needed. If any of the root vegeatables have tough skins, then peel them.
Cut the roots in to about 1cm dice.
Shred the leaves including any ribs of the green vegetables into about 1cm strips. Make sure you use stalks or core of cabbages etc. cut into small dice.
Bring a big pan (about 4-5 litres) 2/3 full of well-salted water to the boil.
Carefully add the root vegetables so that you don't splash yourself, stir and bring back to the boil. Then immediately add the pasta, stir and bring back to the boil again. Start timing the cooking time.
Stir the roots and pasta occasionally so they don't stick.
With 5 minutes of the cooking time remaining, add all the green veg carefully. Stir, bring back to boil.
When the cooking time is up, drain the water from the pasta and veg mix into a jug or bowl. Return the pasta and veg to the pan.
Sprinkle the cheese into the pan, add a good glug of extra virgin olive oil and add back some of your cooking water to make a coating 'sauce'. Season to taste with the salt and pepper (and add the chilli flakes and herbs if you are using them). Stir well. Check seasoning, taste and texture and correct if you need to.
Serve in to bowls or plates and garnish with extra virgin olive oil. You can use more fresh herbs or cheese to garnish as well.
Tuck in and enjoy.
Save the remaining cooking water to use as stock for soups etc. - in the permaculture kitchen nothing is wasted.
Carl Legge lives on the Llyn Peninsula in Wales on a permaculture smallholding and writes a regular blog full of delicious recipes and more. His new book, The Permaculture Kitchen: Love Food, Love People, Love the Planet a book of seasonal, local, home-grown delicious recipes is out in April for just £11.20. It will be published by Permanent Publications, the book publishing arm of Permaculture magazine. Order now from our Green Shopping site.