Winter Wednesday – A Winter Harvest

It’s getting to that stage in Winter when all enthusiastic gardeners, especially those growing vegetables, are itching for the start of spring when the warm weather gives our plants a kick start and the variety for harvest increases dramatically.  In spring we plant… and plant and plant and dream of crisp salads, fresh flavoured pastas and sun warmed produce eaten straight from the plant.  But that is more than a month away still and as the last weeks of winter loom before us we can but enjoy the few things that are thriving in the garden.

So for my Winter Wednesday post I’m enjoying going out with my basket and filling it to the brim with green glossy silverbeet, not the most glamorous of vegetables but a definite unsung hero in my books.

I made the most delicious filled pasta shells with this lot, using some home grown basil and tomatoes that I had in the freezer (like a little taste of summer frozen in time).  The silverbeet was quickly blanched and mixed with feta and ricotta and made the perfect filling for my giant pasta shells – but would work equally well in cannelloni or even in a vegetarian lasagna.

 

Siverbeet, Ricotta and Feta Filled Pasta Shells with Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
400g tinned tomatoes, chopped (for equivalent fresh tomatoes)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

White Sauce
50g butter
1/3 cup plain flour
3 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Filling
450g silverbeet, chopped (or however much you have in the garden)
250g ricotta
50g feta
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp nutmeg
15-20 giant pasta shells (or cannelloni if you’d prefer)
1 cup grated cheese
grated Parmesan

Preheat over to 180 degrees. Grease an ovenproof dish.

To make the sauce: heat oil in a large frying pan, add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat for 203 mins, then add tomato, tomato paste, sugar and 1/2 cup water.  Simmer for 20 mins or until slightly thickened, then stir in the basil.

To make the white sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan, add flour and cook for 1 min.  Remove from heat, gradually add milk and whisk until smooth.  Return to the heat and stir until thick, add the nutmeg and simmer for 3 mins or until sauce boils and thickens.  Season with salt and pepper.

To make the filling: place silverbeet in a large saucepan of water, cover and cook for 3 mins until wilted, refresh under cold water.  Squeeze out excess moisture and chop finely. Transfer to a bowl and add ricotta, feta and egg and mix well.  Spoon mixture into shells.

Spread half the white sauce onto the base of the dish, followed by half the tomato sauce.  Arrange the shells in a single layer and then top with remaining white sauce and tomato sauce.  Sprinkle on the cheeses and bake for 40 mins.

With some white sauce and napoli sauce top and bottom, sprinkled with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and baked in the oven, this cheesy wonder was loved by both husband and Miss Two despite the fact that it was (yet another) meatless meal.

While winter may be a more dormant season in the veggie patch, there are still some delights to be had and I intend to take advantage of these while I can.  Anyone else enjoying some winter treasures?

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16 Responses to Winter Wednesday – A Winter Harvest

  1. Hazel says:

    How.delicious…..thanks.for.joining.in.Winter.Wednesdays

    As.you.can.see.i.have.not.replaced.the.keyboard….the.WW.post.was.one.’i.prepared.earlier’

    LOL

    • Well I’m getting used to the full stops, it might seem strange when they do go. It’s a pity we don’t live nearby, my husband works in IT and we always have spare parts floating around – much to my frustration.

  2. Christine says:

    Wow, your pasta shells look soo tasty! I agree with you on silverbeet being an unsung hero – it’s such a trooper, just keeps plodding away over winter, generous as always!

    • Just popped over and had a look at your wonderful Lemon Butter – will check out the rest of your blog soon.

      The pasta was pretty great thanks to the lovely fresh silverbeet, I think even my sister who proclaims not to like silverbeet would have cleaned the plate with this one. And you’re right it does just plod along through the cold months making just a little bit easier to get out in the garden despite the weather.

  3. Barb says:

    Yum, that looks nice.
    Nothing wrong with meatless meals. lol.

    Barb.

    • Hi Barb, I’ve been checking out your blog lately and loving all your chook/chicken adventures as well as all that growing. I’d love to have the space you have.

      You’re right there is nothing wrong with a meatless meal, but my carnivorous husband does get a little sad when I serve up a hearty plate of lentils or chickpeas. He’s slowing coming around though and this dish certainly helped.

  4. xo.sorcha.ox says:

    Suddenly I’m feeling very hungry…

    Happy Wednesday to you!
    ~S.

  5. claire says:

    How, delicious does that look and with all the home grown elements in it too.
    My poor old Silverbeet plants have been given ‘haircuts’ by the chooks despite having wire around them.
    I do enjoy a good meal of Silverbeet, my mum always used to say, “it makes your blood nice and red” as if that was a good way of encouraging a kid to eat the stuff………..

    Claire :}

    • I love that saying from you Mum Claire, I’m going to add it to my repertoire and pull it out when my two girls ask why they have to eat ‘the green stuff’. Pity the chooks gave yours a haircut – I hope they at least appreciated its goodness and now have blood that’s nice and red.

  6. Tania says:

    Well this is a recipe I should try. I have plenty of silver beet in the garden (seems to be the only thing growing any good at the moment). I am always on the lookout for more meatless meals.

    Thank you for sharing your Winter Wednesday…

    • Hi Tania, just saw your winter wednesday as well, wow 20 degrees in August! I’ll post the actual recipe for you – I’ve been meaning to add a recipes page anyway so this is good motivation.

  7. Mrs Bok says:

    That sounds delicious! Now that I’ve got a working oven finally!!! I must give your shells a go! I love our rainbow silverbeet always so generous and cheery 🙂

  8. Andrea says:

    Questo delizioso !

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