One of January’s great pleasures (along with spending long evenings in front of fires with cosy socks and plenty to read/watch) is to sink wholeheartedly into experimenting with new ways to cook with winter’s stellar crop of vegetables. I am still eating mushrooms and squash in November; in December I am wrapped up in Christmas recipes; so it is only in January that I can really enjoy the delights of those steely, green brassicas and soft, comforting roots. How do you eat yours?
Savoy cabbage and fennel sausage “lasagne”
This is a spectacularly delicious way to eat a savoy, using its leaves in place of pasta sheets for a light but rich, creamy and thoroughly indulgent lasagne.
Prep 15 min
Cook 1hr 20 min
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
1 onion, peeled and chopped
6 pork sausages
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
130g green lentils, rinsed in cold water
1 tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
1 small handful sage leaves, shredded
1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes
250ml whole milk
⅔ savoy cabbage, leaves separated
2 eggs, beaten
100g parmesan, grated
Warm the oil in a medium pan over a medium heat, add the onion, season and saute gently for five minutes. Remove the sausage from its skin and crumble into the pan with the garlic, breaking up the sausagemeat with a spoon so it doesn’t clump together. Once the onion is soft and the pork has coloured a little, add the lentils, fennel seeds, chilli and sage, and stir to coat in the fat. Add the tomatoes and milk, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Bring a deep pan of salted water to a boil. Cut out and remove the backbones of the cabbage leaves and cut the leaves into two or three pieces. Blanch the leaves in the boiling water for a few minutes to soften; do this in a few batches. Once they’re cooked, transfer to a colander to drain.
Stir the eggs and 75g parmesan into the ricotta and season. Spoon a third of the sausage ragu into a large baking dish and cover with a third of the cabbage leaves. Repeat twice more, then spoon on the ricotta mix and spread it over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and drizzle with a little oil, cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, until the top is beautifully risen and golden.
And for the rest of the week …
I would double the quantities, make two lasagnes and put one in the freezer – there is nothing better than an edible hidden gem to whisk out at a moment’s notice. Shred leftover cabbage into hot noodle dishes, or saute in butter as a delicious side.