Anna Jones’s swede recipes | Life and style
Swede: humble, hearty and, to lots of people, a bit boring. For many years, my sole experience was neeps on Burns Night, or as part of a triumvirate of mashes, school dinner-style. But these two-tone beauties, vibrant purple and off-white, so often reached over for more easygoing parsnips or sweet potatoes, are worth your attention in their own right. They roast as well as they mash and pair brilliantly with spice, especially those with a smoky undertone – smoked paprika, chipotle, cumin, black pepper – which stand up to its sweet backnotes. Cut into batons and roasted, it makes a great alternative to chips, too. Here are two recipes that I cook on repeat.
A smoky swede carbonara
This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an authentic carbonara, but I use the word to give you an idea of what it will look like: crisp-edged morsels of smoky swede offset the instant silky sauce of eggs and parmesan coating the pasta. Follow the method carefully to make sure you don’t scramble the eggs. I use smoked salt here – it’s easy to find in supermarkets, but use regular sea salt if you prefer.
Prep 5 min
Cook 12 min
300g swede, peeled and cut into 1cm x 3cm batons
Smoked salt or flaky salt
3 tbsp grated parmesan (I use a vegetarian one)
Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and add the swede, season well with the smoked salt and add a couple of tablespoons of water: leave the swede to simmer until the water is all gone, then continue to cook until it is golden brown and crisp-edged all over but soft in the middle. Turn the heat right down and keep warm.
Crack the eggs into a bowl, add a good grinding (about one teaspoon) of black pepper and the parmesan, and mix well.
Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions. Once the pasta is perfectly al dente, use tongs to lift it out of the water and straight into the frying pan with the swede, along with a little of the cooking water – this will cool the pan a little, stop the eggs from scrambling and help the sauce emulsify.
Toss the pasta and the swede together and, once the pan has cooled enough that you don’t hear any sizzling, add the egg mixture. Toss again until all the pasta is coated in sauce – if you need to, add a little more of the cooking water. The eggs and parmesan should come together to coat the pasta in a creamy, silky sauce. Serve immediately with more parmesan and black pepper.
Maple and black pepper roasted swede
I find myself making this again and again. This is very simple, but the flavours work brilliantly. To turn it into a meal, serve on cooked puy lentils alongside wilted greens. Be sure to peel your swede until the green layer under the skin is gone.
Prep 5 min
Cook 45 min
1kg swede, (about 2 swedes), peeled and cut into 2cm thick wedges
Salt and black pepper
1 pinch dried chilli flakes
A few sprigs of rosemary, thyme or sage, leaves picked and roughly chopped
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Put the swede wedges on to a baking tray and drizzle over some olive oil, season well with salt and pepper and add the chilli and herbs. Toss to coat everything, then put into the hot oven to roast for 35-40 minutes until the edges are golden.
When they look good, take them out of the oven and tumble into a bowl, douse with the vinegar and stir. Leave for a couple of minutes to let the vinegar absorb, then add the maple syrup and mix again, and check for seasoning.
- Food and prop styling: Anna Jones. Food assistant: Nena Foster.