Christine McFadden Cookery and Food Writing
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Christine McFadden with students
Alternative Pancakes
A Taste of Rabbit
Beyond Carrot Cake
Bountiful Blackberries
Celebrating Celery
Cherries are the Only Fruit
Chuck, Flank and Shank
Cooking With
What You’ve Got
Cool Curries
Delectable Duck
Do I Dare to Eat a Peach?
Drupe Fruit
Excellent Eggs
Feel the Fear and
Cook it Anyway
Give Swede a Chance
Glorious Globes
Glorious Greens
Golden Orbs
Heavenly Herbs
King Cauliflower
Lovely Lovage
Meat of Kings
More Than Marmalade
Of Cabbages and Kings
Partridges and Pears
Pumpkins and Winter Squash
Remarkable Medlars
Roasting Chestnuts
Rhubarb Renaissance
Ruffian Roots: Celeriac
Sensational Sea Buckthorn
Sicilian Utopia
Strawberry Fare
The Not-So-Humble Parsnip
Time for Pie
Time to Talk About Eggs
Watercress – a culinary hero
We Won't Go Until
We Get Some
Swede ginger spices beans soup recipes Dorset Foodie
Swede soup beans spices recipes Christine McFadden

Christine's blog

This is the place to enjoy Christine's food-related musings – from seasonal food and food producers to cooking tools, food markets and gastro-travel. You'll also find some must-try recipes and invaluable tips and techniques.

Give Swede a Chance

With its stout dirt-encrusted root, the stalwart swede is sometimes unjustly dismissed as cattle fodder. Admittedly, it lacks the stylishness of peppers and aubergines, say, and the sulphurous flavour may be a bit crude for some. But on the plus side, farmers and market gardeners appreciate swedes for their hardiness and the fact that they survive in the ground until needed. During the winter you’ll usually find freshly dug specimens in farm shops or traditional greengrocers, and they’re worth buying just for their freshness. They actually smell of something – beautifully clean and earthy with a sinus-pricking whiff of horseradish. Even better, fresh swedes keep for at least a week in in a cool larder or in a paper bag in the salad drawer of the fridge.

The swede certainly offers the creative cook interesting possibilities. The usual way is to boil them and mash with butter and nutmeg. This is nice enough but a bit namby-pamby for such a robust vegetable. I prefer roasted swede – the sugars caramelize and the flavour intensifies, producing golden nuggets that are absolute bliss alongside a juicy joint of beef, or strewed with roasted onion as a vegetarian/vegan main course. Peel 2–3 medium-sized swedes, quarter and cut into wedges, then boil in salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and toss with olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread out on a roomy roasting tray and roast at 190°C/gas 5 for 40–45 minutes, turning the wedges and rotating the tray every 15 minutes, until golden and beginning to blacken round the edges. The wedges will be pleasantly chewy on the outside, and velvety soft within.

For a spicier option, check out my recipe for Roasted Swede, Ginger and Spiced Black Bean Soup. Wedges of swede and onion are tossed in olive oil with an aromatic mix of spices and ginger, then roasted briefly until golden and just tender. The mix is whizzed to a chunky purée then simmered gently with black beans and stock. The result is a super-fortifying soup that will keep you replenished for hours to come.

For a spectacular main meal salad, try grilled swede: toss very thin slices in olive oil and sea salt, and cook on a ridged stove-top grill pan or in a ridged frying pan. Once appetisingly striped with brown, arrange the slices on a springy mound of rocket and anoint with a creamy dressing, spiked with a little horseradish. Add some flaked smoked mackerel fillets if you like; the combination of swede, peppery leaves, smoked fish and a pungent dressing is a good one.

Provided it is not too fibrous, swede can also be eaten raw. Coarsely grated, it adds pep and colour to a winter root vegetable salad. Mix with grated celeriac and carrot, finely chopped red onion, and toss with lots of parsley or chives and anoint with a mustardy vinaigrette.

Swede may not be the most stylish root in your veg box, but it has great culinary promise. Do give it a chance.

© Christine McFadden, January 2022


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