Spiced Aubergine, Cavolo Nero and Mushroom Spring Rolls

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It’s the Easter holidays so my daughters have some wonderful leisured weeks ahead of them. They love to cook too so we decided to make these spiced aubergine, cavolo nero and mushroom spring rolls together. Rolling spring rolls is a great communal activity and actually rather calming and therapeutic. It is very satisfying to make a tightly rolled and neat spring roll – seriously you’ll know what I mean when you give this recipe a go.

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I hope that it gets a big thumbs up from all my vegetarian and vegan followers. The filling is deliciously tasty and even if you do like your meat I think you will be pleasantly surprised by how tasty these little spring rolls actually are.

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Once the filling has been prepared  and roasted the actually filling of the spring rolls is relatively quick. You can make them ahead of time and then leave them in the fridge until you are ready to fry them. Equally you could freeze them to use in the future – they are pretty versatile. IMG_8886

I adore cavolo nero and added to the aubergine, mushrooms and the spiced sauce, it makes for a very tasty filling.

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The trick to rolling spring rolls is to keep the rolls tight and well folded so that none of the filling escapes when frying. Don’t overfill or you may find the rolls cannot be rolled tight enough – I know it’s tempting but do restrain yourself ;o)

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Frying takes a couple of minutes and I tend to do a few at a time. Once they have bronzed, remove from the oil and place on some kitchen roll to cool and to soak up any excess fat. Diving in too quickly will burn your mouth, so let them rest for a short while before feasting. I like to dip them in tamarind chutney or some chilli sauce – the recipe for the former is noted below.

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Spiced Aubergine, Cavolo Nero and Mushroom Spring Rolls

Inspired by a similar recipe from Wild Garlic, Gooseberries and Me by Denis Cotter

Makes 22 rolls

1 aubergine (weighing 300g), diced

200g cavolo nero (black kale), chopped  and stalks removed

100g mushrooms, roughly chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp tomato puree

2 tsp light soy sauce

1/2 tsp caster sugar

2 spring onions, thinly sliced

1/2 large red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced

1 tbsp coriander seeds

4 cloves

pinch of fresh nutmeg

22 spring roll pastry sheets

vegetable/sunflower oil for frying

1. In a roasting tray layout the aubergine and mushrooms and scatter with a little olive oil. Roast in oven for 15 minutes, tossing at intervals so that all the ingredients cook and soften.

2. Whilst the aubergine and mushroom are roasting, heat a pan of boiling water and submerge the cavolo nero within it. Cook for 1 minute before straining under cold water and squeezing out the excess water from the cavolo nero. Place to one side on some kitchen paper to dry out thoroughly.

3. Mix the soy sauce, light soy sauce and caster sugar together and when the aubergine and mushrooms are sufficiently cooked transfer them to a bowl and mix in the sauce using a spoon.

4. Using a spice mix or pestle and mortar grind the coriander seeds and cloves together and add the nutmeg. Transfer these and the sliced spring onions and finely sliced red chilli also to the bowl along with the now dry cavolo nero.

5. Lay out a spring role pastry sheet and using your finger or a brush lightly wet the sides of the square. Add a tablespoonful of the aubergine, mushroom and cavolo nero mix towards the bottom of the sheet and then fold over tightly once and then fold in both ends   so that the roll is tightly packaged and then roll until the sheet has been used up. The water that you place on the end will sufficiently hold the spring roll together when cooking.

6. Once all the filling has been used up, heat a deep pan with sunflower/vegetable oil and when it is hot (drop a pinch of flour into it and if it fizzles it is ready) add a couple of the spring rolls at a time. They should take around 2 minutes each to cook. Once they have lightly bronzed place on a plate with kitchen roll to soak up any excess oil.

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Tamarind Chutney

Makes half a ramekin full

1 tsp roasted cumin seeds, ground

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tsp tamarind concentrate

500ml boiling water

45g palm sugar

1 tsp salt

1. In a pan dry roast the cumin seeds for 30 seconds so that the aromas are released. Place in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder and grind to a powder.

2. In a deep pan add the oil and when it is hot add the ground cumin and move around the pan.

3. Add the tamarind concentrate and boiling water and stir so that the concentrate is dissolved. Keep on a medium heat.

3. Add the palm sugar and salt and allow to dissolve into the liquid.

4. Simmer for 25 minutes by which time the liquid will have thickened, although it will still be relatively runny. As it cools it will begin to harden.

5. Store in the fridge in a sealed container for up to two weeks if not consuming immediately.


Caldo Verde

Caldo Verde

Caldo verde is otherwise known as Portuguese green soup, or broth, and whilst you can simply cook it as a soup, I tend to make more of a meal out of it and give it centre stage.  Its perfect for autumn or winter as it is satisfyingly hearty and filling. I deviate slightly from the traditional recipe of onion, garlic, cavolo nero/kale and potatoes by also adding 240g (basically one tin) of butter beans and spicy chorizo. It’s satistfyingly easy to make and guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser. If you are passionate, as I am, about stews and soups then this one will really appeal to you. I particularly like to add spicy chorizo to give it that extra kick, but if you cannot find the spicy variety you can simply use normal chorizo and add a sprinkling of paprika on the top before serving.

Caldo Verde

Serves 6-8

400g of spicy chorizo, chopped into slices

700g potatoes, peeled and diced

2 onions, chopped

4 garlic, chopped

200g cavolo nero/kale/greens, thinly chopped

1-2 pints chicken stock (depending on how thick you want the soup)

240g butter beans

3 bay leaves

4 tbs olive oil

pepper and salt, to taste

paprika, pinch on each serving (optional)

1. Place the olive oil in a deep pan – I use my Le Creuset casserole pot – and when it is hot add the chopped onion, on a low heat for 5 minutes. Then add the chopped garlic and stir into the onions.

2.  When the onions have become translucent add the spicy chorizo, which will begin to create a lovely red hue to the onions as the spicy chorizo begins to mix with the onions. Stir for a couple of minutes.

3. Add the diced potato, butter beans (tinned variety) and bay leaves and thoroughly mix into the onion, garlic and chorizo. Add 1 pint of chicken stock and let the soup simmer for approximately 10-15 minutes, by which time the potatoes should be soft.

4. Add the finely chopped greens. I use cavolo nero, which is black kale, but any type of greens works equally well. You may find you need to add some more stock at this stage, depending on how soupy you like your soup.

5. Season with pepper and salt to taste.

Serve piping hot with crusty bread on the side.

Caldo Verde