cavolo nero stem pasta with ricotta

one of the things i love about reading recipes is finding out something new about an ingredient which i love and already use in multiple ways. a recent example of this was when i was watching three good things and tim maddams, previously head chef at river cottage, used the stems of his cavolo nero leaves as part of his dish

i never do this. i just strip the leaves off, either side of the stem, and then discard it, but not any more. the stems, if finely diced, add a nice crunch to the dish and an extra layer of flavour – they are lighter and fresher than the leaves.

this pasta dish was all about the stems. i fried them gently in smoked tomato oil with a little garlic and chilli and then, when the pasta was ready, added a little extra oil, seasoning and some lemon juice. dollops of ricotta were the perfect finishing touch.