Tenderstem

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I have been working with Tenderstem® recently to create some recipes under their ‘date night’ theme.  This really appealed to me as I love the idea of giving vegetables a starring role by building a dish around them.  Tenderstem is a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale and although at its best in the Spring, is available in the UK all year round.  In the States, it is more commonly known as Broccolini and is not to be mistaken with Broccoli rabe, which is in the turnip family. 

Incredibly, a 100g portion gives you your entire daily requirement of vitamin C as well but Tenderstem is also packed full of vitamin A, calcium, folate and iron.  It is an incredibly versatile ingredient as it can be steamed,  boiled and stir fried of course, but I particularly love it roasted or grilled.  You can even eat it raw in salads or as a crudité.  I’ve put together an elegant date night dish for Tenderstem® with polenta and chorizo crumbs (for when you want to impress your date) and a more relaxed pizza for when you’ve been together a bit longer and just fancy a slobbing out in front of the telly.  Finally I’ve wrapped them in prosciutto with a hollandaise-style dip, which would make a lovely starter – or even brunch the next day. 

Smoky Three Cheese Polenta with Sautéed Tenderstem, Chorizo Crumbs and Parsley
Serves 4

You will need:
300g tenderstem
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
50g chorizo, finely chopped or blitzed in a food processor
40g fresh breadcrumbs
200g instant polenta  
50g smoked cheese, grated
30g grated mozzarella
30g parmesan, grated
1 tsp chipotle paste, optional
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
small bunch fresh parsley, roughly chopped.

Method:

1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.  Add the tenderstem and simmer until just cooked through, with a little bite, about 5-7 minutes.  Drain and run under cold water to stop the broccoli cooking and set the colour and texture.

2. Heat 1/2 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan and add the chorizo.  Fry until golden then remove to drain on kitchen paper, keeping the fragrant oil in the pan.  Add the breadcrumbs and fry in the oil until crispy – about 3 minutes.  Combine with the cooked chorizo.  

3. Fill a large saucepan with 1 litre of cold water and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a simmer then slowly pour in the polenta.  Lower the heat immediately and stir continuously until cooked, about 5-7 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat and add all of the cheese, stirring until completely dissolved.  If you’d like extra smoky flavour, add up to 1 tsp of chipotle paste.  

5. In a large frying pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil and add the tenderstem and garlic slices.  Sauté until heated through and the garlic is crispy.

6. To serve, reheat the polenta and divide between four plates.  Top with the tenderstem and sprinkle with chorizo crumbs and chopped parsley.  

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Wholemeal pizza ‘bianca’ with Tenderstem and red pepper sauce (romesco)
Makes 2 large pizzas

You will need:
For the pizza:
300g wholemeal flour or wholegrain spelt flour
30g grated parmesan
1x 7g sachet fast action dried yeast
1 tsp salt
200ml water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
100ml double cream
25g grated parmesan
50g grated mozzarella  
1 sprig rosemary, leaves picked and roughly chopped  
220g tenderstem
2 large handfuls rocket

For the red pepper sauce:
2 red peppers
1 clove garlic
1 red chilli, deseeded
50g blanched almonds
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Method:

 1. Being by making the pizza dough.  Combine the wholemeal or wholegrain flour, grated parmesan, yeast and 1 tsp salt in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre.  Mix together the warm water and oil and pour almost all of it into the bowl, mixing with your hands as you go.  Add as much of the rest of the water as you need for form a sticky dough.  Tip onto a floured work surface and knead for a few minutes, so it comes together and feels elastic.  Cover and leave to rise for 30 minutes in a warmish place.  

2. Meanwhile, make the red pepper sauce.  Grill the peppers in the oven or, if you are feeling confident, over a gas hob until charred.  Leave until cool enough to handle, then remove the skin, seeds and any remaining stalk.  Blitz the peppers in a food processor along with the garlic, chilli, almonds and vinegar.  With the motor running, gradually add the olive oil until you have a dressing-like sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.

3. Place the tenderstem in a large pan of salted boiling water.  Cook until just tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Refresh under cold water, drain thoroughly and set aside.

4. Preheat the oven to 200 C.  Divide the dough into two and roll out on a floured work surface into two rounds, about the thickness of a pound coin.  Place each round on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and leave for a further 15 minutes until beginning to poof up.  

5. Combine the cream and cheeses with a little seasoning.  Spread over the pizzas and sprinkle over the rosemary.  Top with the tenderstem and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and the veg is starting to crisp up.  Top with the rocket and drizzle with the red pepper sauce just before serving.

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Tenderstem Dippers wrapped in Prosciutto with Lemony Hollandaise
Serves 4

You will need:
220g Tenderstem
80g prosciutto slices, halved lengthways
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
100g hollandaise sauce
zest and juice of 1 lemon
small bunch chives, chopped

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.  Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.  Add the tenderstem and simmer until just cooked with a little bite, about 5-7 minutes. Drain thoroughly.

2. Wrap each broccoli stem in a piece of prosciutto and place on an oven tray.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic oil and bake for about 15 minutes, until the prosciutto has started to crisp up.

3. Meanwhile, mix the hollandaise with the lemon zest, chives and a squeeze of juice. Serve with the tenderstem broccoli, letting your guests dip the stems into the sauce.    

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