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Swede croquettes - work with me here.

Okay, I admit I have never been a great fan of swede. And if you are all honest, I am not alone. It may be the way my mother used to boil it and boil it and boil it until it was just holding together and then force us to sit at the table until it was all gone. Sometimes that process took longer than the cooking. Or maybe it is because whilst on the Falkland Islands it was the only thing approaching a vegetable we had and even that came diced in tins. In fact, one of the tins I found in the store cupboard on R&R on West Falkland was older than I was! It smells funny and one once went through the windscreen of my Dad's much hated Austin Maxi in the 1970's. As you can tell, it holds less than fond memories for me. I just don't like swede.

I know there are some people who love this odd yellow projectile. My friend Lorna proclaims it her "second favourite vegetable!" I am actually scared to ask what her first is? And I find myself on something of a crusade at the moment. I want to rediscover uses for seasonal vegetables that have been grown reasonably locally and that may have been somewhat overlooked of late. Now don't get me wrong, I love veg from all over the place and there are some cracking recipes that I will share with you in the coming weeks but I want to make a point of including some of the more, dare I say, humble local veggies. Now don't panic here, I am not going to try and exclude everything and just cook turnip soufflé (I wonder if that would work? and who would eat it? Lorna!) No, I am still going to use spices and chillies, pepper and lemongrass obviously, but I just want to include those vegetables that often seem like a good idea at the time in the Co-op but then get conveniently forgotten in the back of the fridge until they start to turn themselves into soup all by themselves.

Julie bought a soup pack of veg the other day that was close to its sell by date, you know the things, a vac-packed tray that contains an onion that has developed a beer belly, a couple of slightly wonky carrots, a parsnip that is so mis-formed that it should not be shown to children under 9 or aunts with high blood pressure and a swede, nothing strange or vaguely humorous about it, just a swede. All of the mis-shapen veg was soon used, but the swede just kind of sat there lurking in the fridge, glaring at me, daring me to do something inspiring with it. Well if I am going to champion local veg, then where better place to start than with something even I normally would avoid.

To be honest, I wasn't hopeful, but boy was I wrong.

So I present for your delight, Swede and mozzarella croquettes.

Yes, okay, I agree, not the most photogenic offering but these shallow fried nuggets are a revelation.

A combination of swede, sweet potato, nuts and seeds with a gloriously indulgent mozzarella centre. And once you get the knack of making them the combinations you can put together are endless. The secret is in the coating.

So to business! How do we make these little crowd pleasers?

Note you will need a food processor for this recipe.

other note, this recipe contains nuts. (and Swede!)

First, in order to make enough for 2-3 people (12-15 croquettes) you will need the following:

1/2 a medium swede, peeled and diced (1 cm cubes)

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced (1 cm cubes)

50g sunflower seeds

50g pumpkin seeds

50g ground almonds

1 ball of mozzarella

1 tbs organic dried rosemary

2 eggs

Terricherry pepper and Himalayan salt for seasoning

Oil for shallow frying - I use a mixture of olive and coconut oil.

Boil the kettle, put the swede and sweet potato in a pan with a pinch of salt and cover with boiling water. Cook at a gentle boil until the vegetables are tender. When cooked, drain well and set aside to cool slightly and steam further to remove excess moisture.

In the meantime you need to prepare the coating. On a normal croquette, the coating is generally breadcrumbs and if you are happy to keep them simple you can use them. However, I much prefer to use my seed and nut coating. To do this you will need a food processor.

First blitz the pumpkin seeds to a fine crumb, make it look like breadcrumbs. Tip that into a bowl. Now blitz the sunflower seeds in the same way, add to the bowl with the pumpkin seeds. Now add to that mix the ground almonds and the rosemary. Season to taste with the salt and some of my very special Terricherry pepper (more on that is to come soon!) Combine this melange well.

Once the root veg has steamed and cooled somewhat, you need to mash it. Do not be tempted to add butter or any other liquid at this point, you are not making 3 root mash. Mash down to a rough texture, not too fine but at the same time you don't want great lumps in your croquettes. With this done, you need to add about 1/4 of your coating mixture to the veg. This will help to bind the croquette from the inside and add a good texture to the finish article.

Give everything a good mix to combine all the nut and seed mixture with the vegetables. Now it is time to get messy and childish! We need to make sausages.

Split your mixture into 12 -15 individual croquettes, rolling them gently into your desired shape (I felt all Nigella there for a second.) Now you need to add the mozzarella. To do this, cut up the cheese into strips about 1/2 cm thick so there is enough to fill each croquette. Do not over fill them, it gets messy and a bit exciting if you do! If there is some cheese left over, not to worry, better too much than too little. Experience will tell you for next time.

With a knife, gently make a slice in the croquettes so that it looks a bit like a hot dog bun. Push in the cheese and gently rewrap the mixture around it. (more Nigella). Chill these for 10 minutes in the fridge.

The next bit is a bit messy but essential.

Beat the eggs into a bowl. These will be the glue into which you dip your croquettes before rolling them in the coating mixture and shallow frying them. When you do this, get organised. Croquettes, egg dip, coating and then a plate with kitchen paper on for draining after they come out of the pan. Dip and cook the croquettes a few at a time. Do not overcrowd the pan and keep the heat at medium to low. Do not let the oil get too hot or the coating will cook too quickly and darken before the cheese has a chance to melt. If the oil starts to get too hot, turn the gas off or remove the pan from the heat. take your time, safety first.

Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, but not too long - remember the mozzarella. Serve with yogurt or if you prefer, a spice chutney.

Now, bonus time.

If you have coating left over after you have finished cooking your croquettes, pour what it is left of the egg dip into the mixture and combine well. You can even add another egg at this point if you want to. Make a kind of batter. Spoon small dollops of this mixture into the pan and fry them off gently. You get a kind of falafel. waste not want not.

So there you have it. A way of cooking swede that you will enjoy. As with all of these ideas, I am not precious about them. You can add different ingredients in place of swede of sweet potato if you like, pumpkin is good as is beetroot or butternut squash. The mozzarella is optional to be honest but it adds a bit of fun. Add spices, chillies, what ever takes your fancy. Play with the recipe and let us know how you get on.

Do not let that swede languish in the bottom of the fridge any longer.

Now, about that turnip soufflé.....

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