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COOL KUMARA

There’s a brand new kumara in town – and it’s skin and flesh is purple. This very different variety bred by Plant & Food New Zealand is ‘Purple Dawn’ and I’m impressed with it.

Purple Dawn (sometimes called blue kumara) has a dense flesh and isn’t as sweet as orange kumara but it has great flavour and the purple deepens once cooked. With such amazing colour it adds real excitement to shepherds’ pies and rosti, and it’s also terrific roasted. It certainly caused friends to comment when they were served my ‘Blue Soup’.

All kumara not only taste great but they are packed with more vitamins C and E (antioxidants) than potatoes, pasta and rice. They are a very good source of fibre and potassium, are virtually fat-free and low in sodium. But Purple Dawn — because of it’s rich colour— must also be high in anthocyanins which research has associated with helping to protect against myriad diseaeses including cancer. It’s so new that the nutritional analysis is still being undertaken.

Kumara has been changing its image for centuries ever since arriving in New Zealand in the 10th century. The earliest kumara were small tubers — a bigger ‘sweet potato’ was introduced later. It is this creamy-fleshed variety with its purple skin that became the common kumara we enjoy today. And now we have a rainbow of orange, gold and purple fleshed kumara to enhance our everyday menus.

kumara


RED DAWN KUMARA & FENNEL SALAD

500g Red Dawn kumara
3 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper and flaky sea salt to taste
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 large red capsicum, seeded and cubed
1 large orange, peeled and cubed
1 large avocado, stoned, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4-1/2 cup good vinaigrette or your favourite salad dressing

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Peel and cut the kumara into 2cm cubes. Place in a roasting pan with the olive oil and seasonings. Toss to coat evenly. Bake for 8 minutes, add the capsicum and continue roasting for 5 minutes or until the kumara is tender. Cool.

Place in a salad bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Serve at room temperature. Serves 4-6.


BLUE KUMARA SOUP

blue kumara soupSuper served with a little sour cream or yoghurt on top.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic
700g Purple Dawn kumara, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon grated root ginger
pinch chilli powder
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups good beef or vegetable stock
finely grated rind and juice 1 large orange

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium-low. Add the shallots and sauté until tender but not brown. Add the garlic, kumara, seasonings and stock. Simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Add the orange rind. Purée with a hand-held blender or in a food processor, until smooth. Add the orange juice and reheat gently.

Serve the soup in deep bowls. Serves 4-6.


CHEESEY STUFFED KUMARA

kumara cheesey stuffedThe orange kumara look colourful and are quite moist but any variety could be used.

2 large orange kumara
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup grated tasty cheddar cheese
1 medium chorizo, peeled and diced
2 spring onions, sliced
1-2 red chillies, diced
sour cream to serve

Brush the kumara with the oil. Microwave on high for about 5 minutes or until tender.

Cool a little then slice in half lengthwise. Carefully remove the kumara flesh with a teaspoon leaving a shell. Combine the flesh with half the cheese and the chorizo. Spoon back into the shells. Top with the remaining cheese.

Either, reheat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes or in a 180°C oven for 10-15 minutes or until hot. Serve sprinkled with the spring onions, chillies and topped with sour cream. Serves 4 as an accompaniment or 2 as a main.


CURRIED KUMARA

Any type of kumara is excellent in this delish dish. Serve a grated apple and carrot salad on the side.

2 medium kumara, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons each: cumin seeds, coriander seeds
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 firm banana, peeled and thickly sliced
1/2-3/4 cup coconut milk
squeeze lemon juice
small bunch coriander, chopped

Steam or microwave the cubed kumara, until just tender. Cool a little.

Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan. Add the cumin, coriander seeds and the garlic and fry for 1 minute. Add the kumara and sauté, stirring for 1-2 minutes.

Add the banana and coconut milk and heat through. Serve topped with a squeeze of lemon and the coriander. Serves 2-4.

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