kale, ricotta & mushroom spaghetti
A flavour-hit from Zejd’s souri black olives brings an all important “umami” quality to kale, ricotta & mushroom spaghetti. Lebanese black olives epitomise the “essence of deliciousness”, or “umami” in Japanese. While the backbones of this dish are kale, ricotta and mushrooms, they need the salty, almost “meaty” taste of Zejd’s souri black olives to bring the spaghetti alive. The dish came about, like so many, from having a few things in the fridge with no fixed recipe in mind.
The Westcombe ricotta, bought on a whim because it’s so good, could surely work with the chestnut mushrooms from our veg box, along with some soft red Russian kale from the market. Great ingredients which needed something that would have you looking for a second helping. While the olives are delicious eaten with a squeeze of lemon, coated in Zejd’s EVOO as part of a summer feast, they are also a cook’s best friend.
Their intense flavour packs a punch in kale, ricotta & mushroom spaghetti, as it does in the recipe for prawns and tomatoes. Russian kale tossed in a pan of garlic and Zejd’s EVOO with souri black olives has proved a successful way of encouraging more mouths to embrace kale in our household. So it wasn’t a gigantic leap to come up with this dish. Any greens would do, shredded, perhaps cooked with the lid on to help the moisture soften more robust spring greens.
Tempted to grab a pitted supermarket variety of black olives for this dish? They’ll lack the flavour you need, and will bring nothing other than salt to the dish. Besides, removing the pits from the soft juicy souri olives is easily done. Squashing them with a flat knife, the pit will come away cleanly. If you have a BBQ, the pits can be washed and then added to the charcoal as fuel. In Lebanon, braziers fuelled with olive pits were once used as a heating source in mountain houses.
1 red onion, sliced finely
2 tablespoons of Zejd EVOO
200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
300g kale, or any dark leafy greens – spring greens, Swiss chard leaves, true spinach leaves, roughly chopped
100g Zejd souri black olives, pitted, plus a few extra pitted olives for garnishing
Aleppo chilli pepper
salt & pepper
- Warm Zejd’s EVOO in a large frying pan and add the sliced onion. Gently fry until soft before adding the sliced mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms and the onions have taken on a little colour.
- Meanwhile, add the spaghetti to a pan of salted boiling water and follow the cooking instructions.
- Raise the heat under the saucepan, and place the chopped green leaves on top. Stir as the leaves as they wilt and when tender turn the heat down.
- Tip the ricotta into the saucepan along with Zejd’s souri black olives and stir well.
- Once the spaghetti is al dente, add to the saucepan with a ladle of the cooking water. Grind in some black pepper, and scatter 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a generous pinch of Aleppo chilli pepper to the mixture and stir thoroughly.
- Divide between the plates, adding some reserved pitted black olives to each serving with a sprinkle of Aleppo chilli pepper.