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Gluten free dinner - Pork chops with italian greens and roast butternut squash

Published 11 September, 2006

Tonight's dinner is coming at you a day late due to the biggest catastrophe ever to befall this blogger - the broadband went down. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth we switched the computer off and when we work up in the morning, the broadband fairies had been and fixed it. Happy days.

So, onto dinner. And this was a bit of a winner with the family and guests.

Pork chops

For me, the most important thing with pork chops is to buy really good pork. If you can only get it from the supermarket, get organic. This ensures that the porker you are eating had a good life with plenty of space to roam, as well as the obvious absence of nasty drugs. Many pigs these days life their entire lives in concrete stalls. It ain't nice and the meat you get from them is that white, dry stuff that tastes of nothing. I'd rather eat tofu, and that's saying something.

Season them with salt & pepper and, if you like, smear a little maple syrup on. Sear them on a hot griddle then grill on a medium heat for 5 minutes or so, depending on their thickness. A meat thermometer is a handy thing to ensure you don't overcook meat. Let them stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Italian spring greens

I'll be honest with you, this is the first time I've cooked spring greens and I can't believe I've gone my entire life without eating them more often. How tasty? I think the problem is that on the shelf they're just a big bunch of leathery-looking humoungous leaves that in school dinners were squishy and tasteless, but the magic is in the cooking I've dicovered.

Cut out the main stalk and then slice the leaves across the way in about 1cm wide strips. Drop them into a large pan of salted boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes. After 3 minutes taste one every 30 seconds or so until they are easily chewed but not squishy. Drain well.

While this is going on, pop a couple of sliced garlic cloves into a frying pan with a good 2 or 3 glugs of olive oil - you want enough to coat the greens with. Fry the garlic until there is just the slightest hint of brownness on it - if you burn it, chuck it and start again it will ruin the dish.

Then chuck the greens in the pan and fry gently for 3 or 4 minutes until they are coated properly with the oil. Season with salt and fresh black pepper and if you like, add any fresh herbs you have like basil, parsely or chives.

They should be sweet and tasty, and you will probably find yourself feeling a bit like a cow as you much your way through platefuls of the stuff.

Roast butternut squash

Peel your butternut squash and cut into about 1-inch cubes (don't you just love the way I switch between metric and imperial? :-) I just don't feel right saying '2.5 cm cubes.)

Splash with olive oil, salt and a little dried marjoram and some ground fennel seeds if you like. Roast at 200C for about 20-25 minutes then either turn up the oven or pop on the oven fan for the last 10 minutes - this will caramelise the outsides and make them deliciously sweet. You can add a little dried chilli to this dish too if you like.

And that's it. Yet another gluten free recipe from heaven. Really, give this a try. The flavours are beautiful together and you'll never turn your back on greens again.

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