Nigel Slater's winter recipes (2024)

I thoroughly enjoy seeking out those ingredients that are not on every supermarket shelf – the lesser-known fruits, vegetables and store-cupboard seasonings that have yet to become mainstream. This may mean the quinces that you can find in Middle Eastern food stores and farmers' markets throughout the winter, or the useful but slightly baffling celeriac. They both grow here but we have kept them on the back burner for centuries.

From the food cupboard it may be the curiously addictive sweet-sour hit of pomegranate molasses or the mellow notes of vincotto that interest me. Whether its rabbit or spelt flour (more of which another day), perry or maple syrup, there are some ingredients that are waiting to get better acquainted with us. Here are some of my favourites.


Nigel Slater's winter recipes (1)

Ewe's milk yoghurt and cheeses, and particularly those made in Britain, have been quietly waiting in the wings for too long. Their clean, gentle flavours may appeal to those who find goat's milk cheeses a step too far. I like to marry both sheep and goat's cheeses with members of the cabbage family, spooning thick, yoghurt-based dressings on to lightly cooked purple sprouting or cavolo nero, or including them in ice-crisp cabbage and walnut salads.


cavolo nero 60g

sheep's yoghurt 3 tbsp

sheep's cheese 70g

sourdough bread a round

lemon oil a trickle

a good fruity olive oil

lemon 1, for grating

Trim the cavolo nero and steam for afew minutes till tender – it takes about 3-4 minutes depending on the size of the leaves.

Put the yoghurt in a small bowl and crumble the cheese into it. Season with black pepper but no salt. Toast the bread on both sides.

Drain the cavolo nero. Trickle over a little lemon oil – just enough to moisten it – then pour a little of the plain olive oil over the hot toast. Pile the cavolo nero on to the toast then spoon on the cheese and yoghurt.

A fine grating of lemon zest can be added if you wish.


Nigel Slater's winter recipes (2)

Pomegranate molasses has been on my kitchen shelf for some time now. Always in search of anything that will bring a sweet-sour quality to the party, I use it with anything from warm aubergine salads to roasted meats. Many of the larger supermarkets have started stocking it recently, and any half-decent Middle Eastern grocer's shop will certainly have it. The recipe that follows needs nothing more than a crisp green salad at its side, and makes possibly the best pork sandwich I can remember. Don't be alarmed by the dark undercrust on the roasted meat, that is exactly as it should be.


pomegranate molasses 6 tbsp

water 2 tbsp

lemon 1, the juice

garlic 2 cloves

pork belly 1.5kg, a thick piece, bone-in, skin scored

Pour the pomegranate molasses into a glass or china dish slightly larger than the piece of pork. Stir in the water and the juice of the lemon. Peel and chop the garlic, then crush it finely. Mix into the molasses mixture. Lower the piece of pork into the dish, skin-side up, without getting any of the mixture on the scored skin. Set aside in a cool place (the fridge, if you must) for a couple of hours. Overnight won't hurt.

Preheat the oven to 150C/gas mark 2. Line a small baking dish or roasting tin with foil (you will regret it if you don't). The dish should not be too large – you need it to take the meat with just a centimetre or two around each side. Pour the marinade into the tin then place the pork, skin-side up as before, into the dish, and again making sure that the marinade doesn't touch the skin. Rub the skin with a little salt.

Roast for 2½ hours. By this time the pork will be cooked through to the middle and the skin just starting to crackle. Remove the dish from the oven and spoon off most of the oil that has accumulated around the meat (I would keep this for roasting potatoes another time.) Turn the oven up to 220C/gas mark 7 and return the pork to the oven. After 15 minutes or so, the skin will be crisp and amber coloured and the underside of the pork will be almost black. Remove from the oven. What is left of the marinade will be very dark. This is as it should be, it has done its work and is not needed. Let the meat rest in the dish for up to 10 minutes.

Carefully lift the pork from the foil – if it has stuck use a palette knife to help release it. The underside will be blackened, sweet and tangy. Slice the pork and its crackling into thick, rough pieces.


Loved throughout the Mediterranean, the quince has never really taken off here, yet the hard, fragrant fruits can help to see us through the cold months when there is little else around that hasn't been air-freighted. This tart needs a good hour of your time, but it really is rather good. Serve it with cream if the idea appeals.


For the crust:

butter 100g, at room temperature

sugar 80g

egg 1, lightly beaten

plain flour 200g

lemon 1

quinces 500g

caster sugar 2 tbsp

maple syrup 3 tbsp

sweet apples 750g

For the top:

plain flour 150g

butter 75g

demerara sugar 75g

egg 1, lightly beaten

You will also need a 22cm tart tin with aremovable base

Make the pastry crust: dice the butter and put into the bowl of a food mixer or processor with the sugar. Cream till light and fluffy, then add the egg, mix thoroughly then spoon in the flour. Bring the dough into a ball – it will be quite soft – then place on a generously floured work surface or board. Knead briefly, it will make it easier to work. Roll out the dough to fit the tart tin, pushing it carefully into the corners and up the sides, patching any tears as you go. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Put a baking sheet in the oven and set at 200C/gas mark 6. To make the filling: squeeze the lemon into amixing bowl. Peel, core and chop the quinces into small pieces, tossing them in the lemon juice as you go to stop them browning.

Place the chopped fruits in a deep pan, add the sugar and maple syrup, cover with a lid and leave over a low heat for 15 minutes until tender enough for you to easily insert a metal skewer into them. Check regularly and lower the heat if necessary, particularly towards the end of cooking when the syrup has reduced.

Meanwhile core and dice the apples; there is no need to peel them. Stir them into the quinces as soon as the quinces are almost tender. Continue cooking, covered with a lid, for 5-10 minutes or until the apples are just soft. Set aside.

Make the topping: put the flour and butter into the processor and blitz till they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Or rub the butter into the flour with your fingers. Add the sugar and the egg and mix briefly to a moist, crumbly texture.

Fill the uncooked tart case with the apple and quince mixture, setting aside any juice, then scatter over the crumble topping. Some of the fruit will show through. Lift on to the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes till the crust and pastry are crisp and golden. Allow to settle a little before serving with a trickle of the reserved juices.


Nigel Slater's winter recipes (3)

When I tip vegetables from the steamer I tend to toss them in a simple dressing before I bring them to the table. Butter and lemon juice works for members of the cabbage family; olive or walnut oil with a few herbs is often my choice for root vegetables. It is only recently that I've taken to making a dressing for baked vegetables, too. Roast artichokes with walnut oil and red wine vinegar has become a regular this winter, as has a mixture of sweet root vegetables with a dressing of olive oil, verjuice and dark, mellow vincotto. My favourite is Maggie Beer's Vincotto ( It is my store cupboard ingredient of the year.


For the dressing:

Jerusalem artichokes 600g

parsnips 350g

carrots 250g

sweet potato 500g

garlic 4 cloves

olive oil 3 or 4 good glugs

thyme 6 small sprigs

verjuice 2 tbsp

olive oil 8 tbsp

vincotto 2 tbsp

Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Get a pan of water on to boil for steaming the vegetables. Wash the artichokes and cut them in half. Peel the parsnips and carrots. Cut them into large pieces and place in a steamer basket above the boiling water. Add the artichokes. Steam for 20 minutes or until all the vegetables are just tender. Tip them into a large roasting tin.

Peel the sweet potato and cut into large chunks. Add them to the roasting tin with the steamed artichokes, parsnips and carrots. Tuck the garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled, in among the vegetables. Pour over the oil, season and add the thyme sprigs. Toss the vegetables gently to make sure they are coated in the oil and seasonings. Roast for about an hour or until they are golden. Check they are soft inside.

While the vegetables are roasting, make the dressing by mixing the verjuice with a pinch of salt. Whisk in the olive oil and the vincotto. As soon as the roasted roots come out of the oven, tip them into a serving dish and trickle over the dressing. Serve warm.


Nigel Slater's winter recipes (4)

Celeriac has long been part of the European kitchen, most notably in celeriac remoulade, a classic accompaniment to thinly sliced meats. (A few slivers of air-dried ham, a couple of gherkins and a mound of mustardy remoulade is often a winter lunch in our house). The knobbly, ivory root has taken longer to find friends in this country and we still have no classic British recipe that exploits its clean, mineral qualities. I use it for cold weather soups, setting it up with bacon, mustard and either thyme or rosemary. The result is deceptively creamy.


onions 2 medium

butter a thick slice, about 25g

smoked bacon 120g

celeriac 800g (one large root)

thyme the leaves from 3 small sprigs

chicken or vegetable stock 500ml

water 1 litre

grain mustard 4 tsp

parsley a small bunch

Peel and roughly chop the onions. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based pan and add the onions. Let them cook for 10-15 minutes or so till translucent. As they cook, cut the bacon into short strips or dice and add them to the pan. Stirring occasionally, leave them over amoderate heat till the bacon fat is pale gold and the onions are soft.

While the onions and bacon are cooking, peel and coarsely grate the celeriac, then stir into the onions. Add the thyme leaves and a little salt then pour in the stock and water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and cover with a lid. Leave to simmer for 30 minutes then stir in the mustard. Chop the parsley then add it to the soup with a seasoning of salt and black pepper. Simmer for a further 5 minutes then remove from the heat.

Remove half of the soup and blitz in a blender or food processor till almost smooth. You may need to do this in two batches. Return the liquidised soup to the remaining soup in the pan. You will probably find the result is creamy enough, but if you wish to add some cream then this is the point at which to do it. Check seasoning and serve.

Nigel Slater's winter recipes (2024)
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