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The King of Vegetables

This February, the Idle Rock’s Head Chef Guy Owen takes inspiration from a commonly used, highly nutritious, but often underrated vegetable- the humble cabbage.

January King: Brassica oleracea var. sabauda is a late Victorian heirloom cabbage, which sits somewhere between a Savoy and white cabbage. It is known as Chou de Milan de Pontoise in France and is a winter vegetable, which has been cultivated in England since 1867.

The heads of January King are dense and tend to weigh just over a pound and are crammed with vitamins and health benefiting properties. The leaf pigmentation is truly beautiful and almost changes daily, making it a chameleon amid its vegetable comrades. Their overall colour is a blueish green, with flecks of true turquoise, blushes of purple on the outer leaves and streaks of violet on some of the stems.

“January King is one of our favourite cabbages in the Heligan Kitchen Garden, not just for its looks and taste, but also because it sits really well in the ground for up to a couple of months; which provides a welcomed extended harvest, perfect for these leaner months” comments Nicola Bradley, Head of Productive Gardens.

The Idle Rocks has four vegetarian dishes a day on their à la carte menu, one of which is entirely dedicated to The Lost Gardens and their current crop and is simply called, ‘Heligan’s Garden.’ On request, you can also have the tasting menu, based solely on vegetables. 

With recent scientific research indicating that five portions of fruit and veg a day are good for you, but ten is even better and could even prevent up to 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide every year; the need to showcase the mighty vegetable is even more significant than before.

“Our focus on vegetarian food is to show the versatility and beauty of nature, working with Heligan Gardens gives us direct access to vegetables at their best. Not only are we showing how delicious vegetarian food can be, but also working hard on sustainability within Cornwall,” comments Guy.

On the menu at The Idle Rocks this month is, barbequed January King, stuffed with feta. Celeriac, Cavolo Nero, raw pear and pickled linseed.

Please click here for the recipe, if you wish to try this delicious dish at home for yourself.