What makes winter months the most exciting for any foodie? The local markets are taken over by the variety of beautiful nutritious greens.
From the tender baby palak (spinach) to the world famous sarsoon (mustard) to the lesser known varieties like bathua (lamb quarter) in the Northern plains of Delhi, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, to the beautiful Kashmiri greens like haaq (Collard Greens), sochal ( whose English name I haven’t figured yet), winters are any foodie’s delight.
In the South there is a range of greens that come to the market - basale soppu (Malabar Spinach), gongura, brahmi and many more. It is a delight to spend time with the vegetable vendor. In winters, her stand is brimming with stuff and I find it really hard to decide which ones to buy every week.
A friend from Calcutta tells me that that shaakh (bengali word for saag) in the winter months is pretty special in Bengal too. It becomes an integral part of their eating and people enjoy it with almost every meal.
And winter greens aren’t limited to only the green leafy vegetables. There are other winter specials like green peas, cholia (fresh garbanzo beans) and cauliflower, without which winter really won’t be complete.
Traditionally it is not just the seeds of these vegetables that are eaten. Green pea pods are often used to make a sabji and a delightful soup. The leaves of cholia are used in bhaaji and dals. And I remember my granny never threw away the cauliflower leaves, which now unfortunately don’t even make it to homes anymore.
And we cannot forget root vegetables and their glorious leaves when we talk about winter greens. The slightly red beetroot leaves that taste perfect in a chutney, Shalgam ke patte, that are great in a bhaaji and radish leaves which elevate the mooli ka parantha to a different level all together. If you are lucky to find some carrot leaves, chop them and knead it in the flour to make the most delicious paranthas ever.
Now we all have grown up with winter greens in our traditional home cooked meals. I am going to bring you a delicious mixed winter green pesto pasta recipe that will have everyone in your house licking their fingers in delight.
Recipe - Mixed Winter Green Pesto Pasta
To make the pesto:
- Wash green leaves in running water thoroughly. If you are buying non organic green leaves, soak them in vinegar and salt water for about 10 minutes and rinse them in running water.
- Grind together all the ingredients of pesto, adding olive oil little by little until the paste is smooth.
- Store in a dry air tight container in fridge for about a week. Pesto can be frozen up to a month.
To make the pasta:
- Boil pasta and keep aside.
- In a pan heat olive oil and very lightly sautee peas and cherry tomatoes.
- Add olives and switch off the heat.
- Add pesto, boiled pasta, sliced cheese and stir.
- This pasta tastes good warm as well as cold, so is perfect for lunch boxes.
(Monika Manchanda is an ex-IT professional turned into a food blogger, consultant, home baker and an amateur food photographer. She loves music, writing, food, and travel, but not necessarily in that order! She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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