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Sunday, June 20, 2021

The brassica bunch


Kale, cabbage and their cruciferous cousins are some of the healthiest vegetables to get your hands on. This week CW food writer Fiona Williams shares how to bring cauliflower’s earthy sweetness to, yes, cheesecake! You’ll never even know it’s there.

Cauliflower, lime and coconut cheesecake

Image and recipe from Cauliflower is King by Leanne Kitchen, Murdoch Books, RRP $19.99. Photography by Leanne Kitchen. Illustrations by Alissa Dinallo and Kitty Clement

Serves: 8

  • 200g cauliflower florets
  • 250g (generous 1 cup) cream cheese, chopped
  • 300g firm, fresh ricotta cheese
  • 150g (2⁄3 cup) caster sugar
  • 4 Tbsp lime juice
  • Finely grated zest of 2 limes
  • 3 eggs, beaten well
  • 45g (½ cup) desiccated coconut
  • 2 Tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp coconut essence

For the base

  • 175g plain sweet biscuits, such as shortbread, broken
  • 80ml (1⁄3 cup) melted coconut oil
  • 50g (½ cup) desiccated coconut

Place the biscuits in a food processor and mix to fine crumbs. With the motor running, add the oil and coconut and process until combined well. Press into the base of a 20cm spring form tin.

For the cheesecake

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Steam the cauliflower over boiling water for 4 minutes or until tender, then cool in a colander. Process until very smooth then add the cream cheese to the processor and mix until smooth, stopping to scrape the cream cheese down occasionally. Add the ricotta, sugar, lime juice and zest and process until smooth then add the eggs, coconut, flour and essence and process until smooth.

Pour into the tin and bake for 50–60 minutes or until firm in the middle. Turn off the oven, open the door slightly then leave until the cheesecake is completely cool.

Kale and ricotta gnocchi

Serves: 2

This is an edited extract from The Long And The Short Of Pasta by Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $34.99 and is available in stores nationally. Photography: © Helen Cathcart.

For the gnocchi

  • 300g fresh curly kale or 200g cooked and thoroughly squeezed
  • 250g (1 cup) ricotta, drained
  • 100g grated Parmesan or Pecorino
  • 1 egg
  • 3 heaped Tbsp wheat or gluten-free flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ¼ tsp finely grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt, plus extra for the cooking water
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 25g grated Parmesan, plus extra to serve

For the bacon, butter and sage sauce

  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 150g unsmoked or smoked Pancetta or bacon, cut into small strips
  • 10 sage leaves
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 30g pine nuts, toasted (optional)

Start by making the gnocchi. If using fresh kale, pull away the tough stems. Roughly cut the leaves and boil them in salted water for 10 minutes. Drain well and set aside. When cool enough to handle, thoroughly squeeze out the excess water from the kale (to the last drop!) and finely chop in a food processor (or by hand with a sharp knife on a board) then put into a bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients for the gnocchi to the kale and stir through to combine. The mixture should be firm enough to handle and not wet and sticky. If it is too sticky, add a little more flour to the mix. Roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls, making sure they are tightly packed so that they don’t break up in the water. As you prepare the balls, put them on a floured surface. You can keep them like this in the fridge, loosely covered, for up to a day if you want to prepare them in advance.

Prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a large frying pan. Add the bacon, sage leaves, salt and pepper and fry until the bacon is cooked through and the sage leaves are lightly browned. Add a ladleful of hot water and stir well. Leave the sauce over a very low heat while you cook the gnocchi.

Bring a large pan of well salted water to the boil. Turn the heat down to medium – unlike when cooking pasta, you want a slow rolling boil, not a rapid boil. Drop the gnocchi carefully into the water. Let the water come back up to the boil and cook for 3–4 minutes until the gnocchi rise to the surface. Let them bob around for a further minute, then remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and lower them into the butter sauce. Fry them in the sauce for a few minutes until lightly browned. Stir the pine nuts in, if using. Serve with extra grated Parmesan on top.

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