The food of love

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and it pretty much passed me by. Maybe it was my sore head following a night celebrating Wales’ rugby victory, the beautiful weather or the fact that it fell on a Sunday, meaning that I didn’t sit around waiting for the letterbox to clatter (I jest). I’ve never been particularly bothered about this Hallmark holiday (does anyone really celebrate it anymore?) but as I was cooking for a couple of friends, I decided to give my meal a bit of a Valentine’s Day theme. You guessed right: I used a heart-shaped casserole dish.

The sun has made a very welcome appearance these past few days but by golly, it’s still cold out there so I decided the best course of action was to make some good old-fashioned comfort food. I love casserole. It’s warm, it’s comforting and it goes perfectly with a glass of red. Plus there is almost always the inclusion of some form of stodgy carbs, which in my book is a very good thing indeed.

I discovered this recipe for chestnut and artichoke casserole in early January when I was looking for ways to use up my Christmas leftovers, but I never got round to making it. Katy Beskow (aka Little Miss Meat-Free) is a vegan cook whose recipes are tasty but fuss-free.

I’ve adapted Katy’s recipe slightly as I added kohlrabi (yes, I’ve been to Laura’s again) and a sweet potato and pecan topping. I’m not going to lie to you: this casserole is amazing and tastes just as good cold as it does hot which makes it perfect for leftovers – if you have any. It’s rich and hearty and is also quite sweet thanks to the chestnuts, sweet potato and pecans. This is a really versatile dish and you could use parsnips if you can’t get your hands on kohlrabi or even apples.

Also, trust me when I say that the Marmite works. In fact, you could even add a bit more to the casserole. The original recipe uses jarred artichokes but as I had a fresh one knocking around, I steamed it and used that instead.

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Chestnut and artichoke casserole

Serves 3–4

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, chopped roughly

2 carrots, chopped roughly into rounds

2 celery stick, chopped finely

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

200g cooked chestnuts, halved roughly

1 globe artichoke heart, steamed or 2 tablespoons of jarred artichokes, drained of oil and torn

Half a kohlrabi

2 teaspoons of fresh rosemary, chopped

2 teaspoons of fresh thyme, chopped

2 cans of chopped tomatoes

1 tsp Marmite

2 handfuls of kale, stalks removed

2 medium sweet potatoes

1 teaspoon of dried cinnamon

A liberal sprinkling of nutmeg

A 2-3 cm piece of fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped

1 tablespoon of maple syrup

A pinch of sea salt and pepper

2 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted

 

Method

If you’re using a fresh artichoke, remove the stalk and steam for about 25 minutes and once cool slice the flesh from the middle (the heart). Set aside.

 

In a pan, heat the olive oil and onion over a medium heat and cook for 2 minutes. Add the carrot, celery and garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes until the vegetables are starting to soften.

Add the chestnuts, artichokes, rosemary and thyme then pour in the chopped tomatoes. Spoon in the Marmite and stir thoroughly. Place a lid on the pan, reduce the heat to low-medium and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

During this time, peel and slice the sweet potato and boil for 15-20 minutes. Add the maple syrup, cinnamon, coconut oil, nutmeg and nutmeg and set aside.

 

Heat the oven to 200C. Add the kale to the casserole mixture, stir through and cook for further 10 minutes until the kale has wilted. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. If your pan isn’t oven proof, transfer the mixture to a casserole or oven dish and top with a layer of mashed potato. Grate over the nutmeg, add the chopped pecans and another liberal sprinkling of cinnamon.

 

Place a lid on the casserole (or if using a dish wrap loosely in foil) and cook for 10-15 minutes until the pecans are slightly toasted.

 

Serve with green vegetables.

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2 thoughts on “The food of love

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