The veggie of the week is our leafy friend Choy Sum! In Sweden, where I am originally from, there is a saying that goes: beloved child has many names. And that holds true for Choy Sum. Choy Sum is considered one of the most popular everyday vegetables in China and it is widely used in Asian cuisines. As such, it goes by many names. In China it is called Cai xin or Tsoi sum, in Japan they call it Saishin, and it is Pakauyai in Thai, and Cai Ngot in Vietnamese.
Choy Sum is a beautiful non-heading plant with slender green stems and flat, slightly serrated green leaves. The stems are crisp and juicy with young plants having a light sweetness that grows more bitter as they mature. Choy sum is delicious when it’s cooked. It is often an ingredient in stir-fries, or it can be blanched or boiled. The leaves and stems can be kept 3-4 days when stored loosely in a bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Choy sum can also be blanched and stored in the freezer for 8-12 months.
As mentioned, while Choy sum is a traditional ingredient, an integral part of many different Asian cuisines where it has been used for centuries, it is increasingly used in new culinary creative endeavours. One such endeavour is this week’s recipe from the family behind thewoksoflife.com. Thank you for sharing it with us!
Creamy Roasted Choy Sum Pesto Pasta
- 225g choy sum
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 225g fettucine (any long pasta will work)
- ½ lemon (juiced)
- 3 cloves garlic (divided)
- ½ cup onion (finely chopped)
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- a big pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
- ½ cup toasted sunflower seeds (substitute toasted pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, etc.)
- Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for your pasta. Keep the choy sum whole and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until just starting to char, 15 minutes, turning the veggies once, halfway through baking. While that’s happening, cook your pasta until 1 minute less than fully cooked. Set aside a cup of pasta water and drain the rest.
- Transfer your roasted choy sum to a food processor with the juice of half a lemon, a clove of garlic, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Pulse until well blended.
- In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add the onion and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Cook down until golden and tender, 7 minutes. Add the cream, pasta, Choy sum mixture, lemon zest, and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir all together. Loosen it up with some of the reserved pasta water if necessary, and adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan and toasted sunflower seeds.