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THE BOROUGH MARKET GUIDE TO

Spring vegetables From wild garlic and radishes to asparagus and Jersey royals, a guide to sourcing and cooking spring vegetables

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THE BOROUGH MARKET GUIDE TO

Spring vegetables In the introduction to one of her typically bright, beautiful recipes, Rosie Birkett manages to capture the essence of this collection just about perfectly: “Spring is a bit of a show off, bursting onto the scene like it does, jazz hands waving, brandishing fat leaves of pungent wild garlic, deep purple violets and perfect tips of fresh asparagus to lift our winter-worn spirits.” And if spring vegetables are the tap-dancing, hand-waving Broadway stars of the seasonal produce world, what you’ll find here is a full-on Bob Fosse stageshow, with behind-the-scenes assistance from some of our favourite chefs and food writers. Borough Market is transformed over the course of a few weeks in April and May, as the roots and brassicas of winter give way to a fresh-faced young cast and the greengrocers’ stalls begin to burst with colour. After all those months of soups and stews, the prospect of some lightness, verdancy and crunch returning to your diet should be extremely welcome. And the best news is that really good spring vegetables, unlike the stars of stage and screen, don’t really demand much attention: some of the recipes here take a bit of work, but some could be summed up as ‘chop vegetables, mix in bowl’. Show offs they may be, divas they are not. BOROUGH MARKET ONLINE Borough Market Online offers a wide selection of our traders’ produce, delivered direct to London addresses and, where available, by post to the rest of the UK. goodsixty.co.uk/borough-market

What it takes: Foraging Noel Fitzjohn Wild garlic gnocchi with asparagus & chicken broth Rosie Birkett Wild garlic cheese scones Edd Kimber Wild garlic soup Tim Maddams Hot tips: Cooking asparagus Bee Wilson Asparagus with tarragon hollandaise on toast Jenny Chandler Asparagus & pea tortellini in pea puree Tony Rodd Asparagus & sorrel puff pastry tart Ed Smith Spring salad Jenny Chandler Crunch time: A guide to radishes Angela Clutton Radish & pink peppercorn salad Olia Hercules Broad bean & broad bean tip salad with goat’s cheese Kathy Slack Morel, pea & pink peppercorn pasta Rosie Birkett Nettle & Cornish yarg tart Tom Hunt


HELEN CATHCART / FRONT COVER: REGULA YSEWIJN

Wild garlic gnocchi with asparagus & chicken broth


WHAT IT TAKES: FORAGING Noel Fitzjohn

How did you come to be a professional forager? When I started Fitz Fine Foods, foraging was never meant to be a major part of the business. We were making mostly pâtés and terrines, and I wanted to ensure that the ingredients we were using came from people whose methods were sustainable. I had been foraging for myself for years, and some of that produce occasionally made it into my products. When I analysed what people were buying, the two most popular areas were our small selection of mustards and anything based on foraged plants. I decided to find a way to combine the two. That led to a range of flavoured mustards using foraged goods. What is the key to being a forager? Location is everything. If you want the best quality produce, you need to find a location with the ideal conditions for the plant. Plants can often gain a foothold in less than ideal places, but they will not be at their best, so you need to know and understand the environments in which they really flourish. Another big issue is dogs: if you forage in areas favoured by dog walkers, it is inevitable that your favourite patch will one day be used as a dog latrine. Essentially, any public land where dogs are common is off limits, so I mainly forage on private land. Is that legal? The laws around trespass and foraging have some grey areas, but from my perspective one thing is crystal clear: if you forage on private land for commercial purposes, you have to obtain the landowner’s permission. Tracking down the owner of a piece of land can be tricky, but it is absolutely essential.

One place I go, which produces really wonderful wild garlic, is a private wood used for timber; the wild garlic plant is so out of control that it’s actually a real problem for the owner, so he lets me take as much as I need. How laborious is foraging? Anyone who has harvested plants by hand will tell you it is hard work. If we take wild garlic as an example, I will gather for about three hours, which yields roughly 65kg. That sounds a lot, but the idea is to never clear too large a patch. If you do, other plants like dog’s mercury and cuckoo pint may colonise the area, crowding out everything else. I will clear a patch about two metres square and then move somewhere else – that way the wild garlic can recover. It is all about preserving the resource. You also have to be very observant and inspect the leaves as you harvest – while you’re not picking the leaves individually, you are glancing at each one. What happens to the wild garlic once picked? I wash the leaves in a large vat before inspecting them again. I then lay the leaves out to dry, before inspecting them a third time. I just want to make sure nothing else has crept in. After that, if I’m going to make a mustard, I blanch the leaves like spinach; if it is for a pesto or for sale as leaves, it is left raw. This all seems very time consuming. Very much so. If you want to do it well, it has to be. That means that I cannot do all the foraging myself, so I do have to buy from other foragers too. If you’re going to stock produce that people want, they will forgive an occasional absence, but to


build a stable customer base you have to offer some consistency. This is particularly relevant to me, as I make all the mustards myself, so I simply do not have the time to seek out locations, then forage and process everything I need. How do you pick suppliers? You do your research and assess the produce they offer. You really need to know how they operate. To give one example, some samphire pickers are paid by weight, while others are paid on quality. Lower quality, older samphire has wooden stalks in the centre, making it heavier – so if you’re paid by weight, there’s an incentive to pick the lower quality plant. You also need to make sure the suppliers are foraging sustainably. Luckily there are some very good companies out there. It is this mix of self-foraged and carefully bought produce that allows me to consistently offer high quality products. Where do you get your recipes? Most I create myself through experimentation – trial and error. To get the wild garlic pesto

recipe nailed down took about three seasons of honing. There are some happy accidents. One day, some chopped-up wild garlic was left in a pot with some honey by mistake. I found it after a while, tasted it and thought it was quite nice, so tweaked the amounts and made some experimental batches – that is now a product. It turns out it takes quite some time to mature – the longer you leave it, the better it gets. If I had tried it straight away, it would have gone in the bin. What foraged produce will be appearing as spring unfolds? As you would expect, this is a time when a lot changes – and it can also be very unpredictable, depending on the vagaries of the weather. As our weather gets more unpredictable, you will often find things that the ‘books’ say are out of season. With the wild mushrooms, I’ll be harvesting St George’s, chicken of the woods and the scarlet elf cap, which is a really beautiful, bright red mushroom. Wild asparagus, marjoram and wild alexanders should all be making an appearance too.


WILD GARLIC GNOCCHI WITH ASPARAGUS & CHICKEN BROTH Rosie Birkett Serves 2-4

Method

At this time of year, keep an eye out – or, more accurately, a nostril open – for a certain pungency in the air. I like to think of it as the garlic breath of the countryside, and it leads to the foraging equivalent of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: a patch of glossy, deep green wild garlic that will punctuate your cooking through the spring. Or better still, skip the uncertainty of foraging and head to the Market, where you’ll find bags of the stuff ready and waiting. In this recipe, the gentle green allium of wild garlic is folded into a soft, pillowy gnocchi and then browned to a crisp in butter, served in warm bowls of lemon-spiked chicken broth, with tender asparagus, the whole lot lifted with soft herbs. Spring in a bowl.

Heat the oven to 200C. Scatter a handful of rock salt onto the bottom of a roasting tray and place the potatoes on top. Prick them with a fork and bake for around an hour, until a skewer slides through without resistance. Allow to cool until you can peel them, then rice into a bowl. Add the parmigiano reggiano and lightly mix. Season with plenty of salt, pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg.

Ingredients 500g potatoes, skin on 20g parmigiano reggiano, plus extra to grate Fresh nutmeg 200g wild garlic 2 tbsp ricotta 2 egg yolks 150g 00 flour 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp butter 100g asparagus, blanched until tender, then chopped 300ml chicken stock Zest and juice of ½ lemon Soft herbs, such as tarragon, chervil and dill

Place the wild garlic in a sieve and pour a kettle of boiling water over it. Allow to cool for a couple of mins, then squeeze out any excess moisture and blitz in a blender to a puree. Once cool, pour into the potatoes along with the ricotta and egg yolks and sieve in the flour. Lightly mix with your hands to form a dough. Roll the dough, a quarter at a time, into long thin sausages on a floured surface, then use a sharp knife to cut into little gnocchis. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Tip half the gnocchi into the salted water and boil until they float to the top. Fish out carefully with a spider or slotted spoon onto a plate, and allow to steam while you repeat with the remaining gnocchi. Add a good knob of butter to a frying pan, followed by the gnocchi. Pan fry until starting to crisp and colour, turning over to cook evenly for around 3 mins. Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a pan with the lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice. Taste for seasoning. Divide between bowls, add the blanched asparagus and ladle over the broth. Top with the herbs, more grated cheese and black pepper.

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HELEN CATHCART

Parmigiano reggiano Bianca Mora Ricotta Gastronomica 00 flour From Field and Flower


WILD GARLIC CHEESE SCONES Edd Kimber Makes 6-8

Method

Ingredients

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 190C. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and ½ tsp salt. The addition of baking powder when you are already using self-raising flour is simply that cheese scones tend to be on the heavy side, so need a helping hand to rise and stay light.

350g self-raising flour 1 tsp baking powder 100g unsalted butter, diced and chilled 150g cheddar, grated (plus a little extra for topping) 6 rashers of streaky bacon, cooked until crisp and then diced 75g wild garlic, finely chopped 2 tsp fennel seeds 2 tsp paprika 150ml whole milk 2 large eggs

Toss the butter through the flour and then using your hands or a pastry blender rub in the flour until the butter is in irregular sized pieces, no larger than peas. Mix in the cheddar, bacon, wild garlic, fennel seeds and paprika, evenly distributing the ingredients. Whisk together the milk and eggs then pour into the middle of the scone mixture, then using a butter knife mix to form a shaggy dough. Tip the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and use your hands to briefly bring together to form a uniform dough. Lightly flour the work surface and roll or press out to a thickness of about 2.5cm thick. Use a 7cm round cookie cutter to cut out as many scones as possible. Gently re-knead the off cuts to cut out the last few scones. Transfer to the baking trays. You can also simply press the scone dough into rectangles, roughly 1 inch thick, and then use a sharp knife to cut into squares. To finish, lightly brush the top of the scones with a little extra beaten egg or a splash of milk and sprinkle with a few fennel seeds, a sprinkling of paprika and a little cheese. Bake for 25 mins or until golden on top. Best served still a little warm. The scones can also be frozen once fully cooled.

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WILD GARLIC SOUP Tim Maddams Serves 4

Method

I’ve always been fascinated by the way that the wild harvest seems so in tune with my appetite. It’s as though nature is reminding me who’s in charge. By the time the wild garlic starts peeking its head above ground in the very early spring, I am more than ready for it – my foodie self is crying out for the pungent goodness of its super-green chlorophyll-stuffed leaves, and I never hold back from them.

This recipe is the very essence of simplicity. In a large pan, begin to sweat the onion and potato in the rapeseed oil. Season this well and let it cook until the potato is fairly tender, about 15 mins. Stir regularly and pay attention to how it’s getting on.

Ingredients 1 onion, peeled and chopped 2 large potatoes, scrubbed and chopped 50ml rapeseed oil 500g wild garlic 4 medium eggs

In the meantime, wash and re-wash your wild garlic leaves. Remember: dogs, foxes, badgers and drunken youths may well have passed by the garlic before it was picked for you. And on a less worrisome but no less important point, it loves sandy soil and you do not want crunchy soup. Roughly chop the garlic leaves. Add water to the potatoes and onions until just covered. Bring to a simmer. When – and only when – the potato is tender, add the wild garlic leaves and cook for just 1 min. If the soup gets overcooked at this stage it will lose its vibrant green colour. Remove the soup to a good jug blender and blend until smooth and green. Leave the mixer running for at least 1 min – it’s a long time with all that noise, but worth it for the texture and colour that result. Season the soup and either return it to the pan or into an oven-proof casserole dish. Crack four eggs carefully into the still hot soup and place in a hot oven for 6 mins – you don’t want the soup to re-boil, you just want to partially set the eggs (runny yolks are a must). While the soup is finishing in the oven, grill some very good bread until nicely crisp and charred, place this on the table along with the soup and some good butter, with salt and pepper to hand.

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Potatoes Stark’s Fruiterers Rapeseed oil Wild Beef Eggs Wyndham House Poultry

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HOT TIPS: COOKING ASPARAGUS Bee Wilson

“What if you do not possess an asparagus boiler?” asked Jane Grigson in her Vegetable Book. It is not a dilemma that troubles many cooks now. But back in 1978, when Grigson’s book was first published, everyone knew that there was only one way to cook asparagus: boiled, standing in a bundle. Not owning an asparagus boiler could make this tricky task even trickier. An asparagus boiler – for the uninitiated – consists of a tall cylindrical lidded pan with an inner basket. The bundle of asparagus is put in the basket, stalks down, with a few inches of salted water. The idea is that in the time it takes every last bit of stringiness to be boiled out of the stalks at the bottom, the tips will steam to tender-crisp. To readers who did not possess this elaborate vessel, Grigson suggested improvising an equivalent using some other tall saucepan and a “wire blanching basket”. As for those who had no wire blanching basket, she recommended tying the asparagus in a bundle in a normal saucepan and improvising a domed lid of foil for the tips. The one thing Grigson did not suggest was cooking this sublime spring

vegetable by any other method, because back then boiled asparagus was seemingly the only option. Thinking about asparagus, it struck me that modern cooks express our love of ingredients very differently from cooks of yesteryear. In the past, asparagus-lovers worshipped this expensive vegetable by cooking it in one way only, which almost seemed to be demanded by the anatomy of the plant. To respect asparagus was to know that it needed to be kept in a bundle and boiled upright, with obsessive care for not overcooking the tips. By contrast, cooks now celebrate the all-toobrief season of these green vibrant spears by cooking them in as many different ways as possible. We griddle asparagus and we braise it; we shred it and eat it raw; we toss it with pasta and noodles; we use it to add spring freshness to green minestrone or risotto. Cooks used to signal that an ingredient was special by cooking and serving it in one particular way and often in a single


designated vessel. Turbot, for example, was poached in court-bouillon in its own special turbotiere. Hot salmon called for hollandaise and cold salmon for mayonnaise. And asparagus, prince of vegetables, demanded to be gently scraped to remove any tough outer stalks, then cooked in water. There are 19 asparagus recipes in Haute Cuisine by Jean Conil, first published in 1953, and except for one recipe for green asparagus soufflé, all of the others consist of boiling it and serving hot or cold with a sauce. Many of these old haute cuisine ideas for boiled asparagus are in fact still lovely. Conil’s suggestions for asparagus sauces include ‘Maltaise’, a tangy hollandaise made with blood orange instead of lemon and a simple fresh cream sauce sprinkled with chopped chives and chervil. I am a big fan of Conil’s ‘asperges Espagnole’: hot asparagus served with poached eggs and vinaigrette. When I started cooking in the 1990s, I was firmly of the boiled asparagus school. Someone gave me an asparagus boiler for

a wedding present and I was determined to master making proper bundles, like a Dutch still life. I knew that some recipe writers had started blackening asparagus on a chargrill, but the first few times I tried it this way, it tasted harsh and burned and half-raw, a waste of those expensive spears. So, I persevered with my asparagus boiler, even though I found the process frustratingly hit and miss. As Jane Grigson said, depending on the size and quality of the asparagus the timing could vary “from 15 minutes to 45”, which made it impossible to plan supper. The recipe that changed the way I thought about asparagus was River Cafe penne with asparagus carbonara, which I first read about in 2000. This was a carbonara, but with spears of asparagus cut on the diagonal in place of the pancetta. The thing that startled me was the wondrous economy of the method. While the pasta boiled until al dente for nine minutes, you cooked the asparagus in a separate pan. The stalks were added first, then after two minutes, the tips, which cooked for a further four minutes. The


HAROLD MCGEE EXPERIMENTED BY SNAPPING 130 SPEARS AND FOUND THAT THE SNAPPING METHOD WAS FAR LESS RELIABLE THAN SIMPLY LOOKING AT THE SPEARS AND CUTTING THEM AT WHAT SEEMS TO BE THE RIGHT POINT

blanched asparagus is tossed with pasta, egg yolks, parmesan, butter and thyme to make a richly spring-like dish: green and golden. The first time I made it, I couldn’t believe that the asparagus had come out so perfectly with so little effort. I never used my asparagus boiler again, realising that I could boil the spears unbundled in a big pan for five minutes, with none of the fuss and better results. Over the past decade, chefs and cookery writers have developed a much more experimental and playful approach to asparagus. We have thrown out the asparagus rule book. Take the controversial question of snapping versus slicing. Many cooks used to swear by the tradition of snapping each stalk to separate the edible top from the inedibly woody bottom. But in 2009, food writer Harold McGee experimented by snapping 130 spears and found that the snapping method was far less reliable than simply looking at the spears and cutting them at what seems to be the right point. Don’t discard the stalks. Much of the bottom part is still edible too, notes McGee, if you slice it very thinly and add it to a soup or stir-fry. It was Yotam Ottolenghi who convinced me that chargrilled asparagus could make a welcome change from plain-boiled. Freshly harvested asparagus contains a lot of natural sugar and charring it accentuates both its sweetness and its umami flavours. Ottolenghi’s first cookbook contained a recipe for chargrilled asparagus, courgette and halloumi cheese salad. It was a bit of a palaver to make: the asparagus was blanched before it was charred with thin slices of courgette and anointed with garlicky basil oil. But the firm,

bright spears took on a savoury depth that was a revelation. I have since discovered that I like charred asparagus even more if it is sliced up, tossed with salt and oil and browned for between five and 10 minutes under a very hot grill, with lemon zest added at the end. If you don’t try different things out, you will never know what you’re missing. As J Kenji Lopez-Alt of The Food Lab writes, we should embrace asparagus “in all its forms from raw and crunchy to braised, olive-green and totally tender”. The best of all ways to cook asparagus, I am now convinced, is neither boiled nor grilled, but braised. By braising, I mean browning the asparagus in a single layer in a paella pan or similar before cooking with butter and a splash of water or stock until the liquid emulsifies to a glossy sauce, which takes less than 10 minutes. Braised asparagus offers both the browned intensity of charred asparagus and the delicacy of boiled. My introduction to braised asparagus was Lopez-Alt’s excellent recipe on the Serious Eats website but I also recommend the Patricia Wells version on the Food 52 website, where the asparagus is flavoured, surprisingly, with rosemary and bay. With middle age, asparagus season has started making me feel wistful. It lasts such a short time, and who can say how many more asparagus seasons remain? This is yet another reason to expand your horizons beyond boiled asparagus. Not possessing an asparagus boiler is no loss. The real pity would be to miss out on squeezing every ounce of asparagus-joy from the season before it is gone.


ASPARAGUS WITH TARRAGON HOLLANDAISE ON TOAST Jenny Chandler Serves 4

Method

There’s really nothing to top simple boiled asparagus with melted butter or a soft-boiled egg. I’m usually far too impatient to prepare anything more complicated with the first precious bunches of the season, but a lemony hollandaise, an emulsion of both eggs and butter, is doubly indulgent and the perfect classic sauce to accompany the spears. Tarragon (usually found in the punchier béarnaise sauce) is heaven, but do go carefully – otherwise its aniseedy tones could overpower the asparagus.

Chop the woody ends from the asparagus – I don’t snap mine off as so many recipes suggest because you seem to lose more flesh than necessary. In fact, I love to eat asparagus with my fingers and the tough little stump is good to hang on to, so I sometimes don’t trim the stalks at all.

Ingredients 500g asparagus (about 24 spears, depending on thickness) 3 egg yolks 200g cold, unsalted butter, in 1cm cubes Juice of ½ a lemon A sprig of tarragon, leaves finely chopped Cayenne or black pepper 4 slices of sourdough bread

To make the sauce, bring a saucepan of water to the boil and then place a bowl (glass or ceramic will temper the heat better than metal) on top to create a bain-marie. Now turn the heat right down, add the egg yolks and 1 tbsp water, and season with a little cayenne or black pepper and a pinch of salt, whisking until smooth. Add the cubes of butter three or four at a time, whisking as they melt and emulsify into the egg. Continue adding more butter until it is all absorbed and you have a thick and creamy sauce. Whisk in a little lemon juice, tarragon and seasoning to taste. You can set the sauce aside in the bain-marie to keep warm for up to 20 mins or pour it into a small thermos flask. Now to cook the asparagus. Plunge the stalks into a large pan of boiling, salted water and cook for anything between 3-8 mins until tender, depending on the thickness of the stalks. Drain well and place on a kitchen towel for a moment, so as not to waterlog your toast. Meanwhile, get the toast on. Serve the asparagus piled on the toast and pour over the hollandaise at the very last moment (to avoid a rather unappetising skin forming). You could add a slice of cooked ham to the toast for a more substantial meal.

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Asparagus Ted’s Veg Tarragon Elsey & Bent Sourdough bread Bread Ahead

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ASPARAGUS & PEA TORTELLINI IN PEA PUREE Tony Rodd Serves 2

Method

Ingredients

Start by making the pasta dough. In a food processor, combine the egg and flour until it becomes breadcrumb-like in texture. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge until needed.

1 egg 100g pasta flour 1 bunch of mint 100ml olive oil 400g frozen peas 1 bunch of asparagus spears, prepared 100g ricotta 1 tsp nutmeg 200ml vegetable stock

Place the mint and oil in a blender. Blend until smooth, then pass through a fine sieve or muslin cloth. Reserve the oil. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the frozen peas and then the asparagus. Reserve four asparagus tips for later and blend the rest with the ricotta, nutmeg and 1 tbsp peas. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Place in a piping bag in the fridge until later. Blend the rest of the peas with the veg stock until smooth. Season to taste. Roll out the dough to the finest setting on a pasta machine and cut discs around 8cm in diameter. Pipe a ball of the asparagus and ricotta mix onto the centre of each. Wet a finger and run a line of water around the ricotta mix. Fold the pasta dough over to create a pocket of filling, then pinch the sides together to create your tortellini. Repeat until you have used all your filling or dough. Reserve under a cloth to prevent drying out. Reheat the pea puree on the stove. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and salt generously. Drop the pasta in the water and cook for 4 mins. Ladle the pea puree into a bowl and place the tortellini in the puree. Garnish with the asparagus tips and a squeeze of mint oil.

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Pasta flour From Field and Flower Asparagus Stark’s Fruiterers Nutmeg Spice Mountain


ASPARAGUS & SORREL PUFF PASTRY TART Ed Smith Makes 1 tart

Method

Ingredients

Preheat the oven to 200C. Place a wide saucepan of well-salted water over a hot hob and wait for it to come to the boil.

500g asparagus (medium-fine thickness) 50g sorrel leaves 200ml full fat creme fraiche 25g parmesan, finely grated 1 tbsp light olive oil 320g ready-rolled all butter puff pastry sheet

Snap the woody ends from the asparagus, discard those ends and set the spears to one side. Chop three-quarters of the sorrel leaves very finely. Decant the creme fraiche into a bowl and stir the chopped sorrel and parmesan through it. Once the water is at a rapid boil, add the asparagus spears and blanch for 30 secs. Drain through a sieve, chill completely under running cold water, then leave to dry for 1-2 mins. Finally, roll the spears in the olive oil. Unroll the pastry sheet (if your pastry is not ready-rolled, roll it out to a rectangle around 2-3mm thick). Put a sheet of baking parchment on a large baking tray. Lay the pastry flat on top, then lightly score a border 3cm from the edge using the blunt edge of a knife. Spread the creme fraiche and sorrel paste over the top, right up to the edges of the border, then arrange the asparagus spears across the middle. The tart looks good and cuts well if they’re lined up in a neat row, standing to attention like soldiers. Put the baking tray towards the top of the now-hot oven and bake for 20-25 mins, until the pastry edges are puffed and golden, the creme fraiche base bubbling and burnished, and the asparagus slightly charred. Allow to cool for 5 mins, then finely shred the remaining sorrel and sprinkle over the top. Serve with a sharply dressed green salad and some tomatoes in good olive oil on the side. The tart is also enjoyable at room temperature.

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ED SMITH

Asparagus Elsey & Bent Sorrel Turnips Creme fraiche Mons Cheesemongers


SPRING SALAD Jenny Chandler Serves 4

Method

So many locally-grown treats come into the Market in late spring: asparagus, new potatoes, radishes, wild garlic, baby broad beans, pea shoots. This salad embraces the lot and makes the perfect light lunch dish. Purple asparagus is particularly sweet, so works well both raw or cooked. The spears lose their distinctive colour as you cook them – another reason to leave some raw. Sweeter tips are carefully shaved into long curls with a potato peeler while the thicker stalks are blanched quickly, giving them quite a different texture and flavour. The salad can be served cold, but warm potatoes make all the other flavours ping. For a stunning vegetarian take, just drop the prosciutto and add 1 tbsp light miso to the potatoes along with the oil, giving it savoury depth, then throw in some toasted hazelnuts for texture.

Heat the oven to 170C. Place the prosciutto on a lightly oiled baking tray and cook in the oven for 10 mins, then leave to cool and crisp up. The ham should become really brittle as it cools – if not, just return to the oven for a few mins. Break into shards (if making ahead, store in an airtight container).

Ingredients 100g finely sliced prosciutto 100ml extra virgin olive oil 500g small new potatoes (halved if large) A sprig of mint 300g purple asparagus 200g baby broad beans 8 quail’s eggs 75g pea shoots A small handful of wild garlic 12 radishes, finely sliced Juice of 1 lemon

Boil the potatoes in salted water with the sprig of mint until tender, then drain. Toss with the extra virgin olive oil. Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus. Remove any woody tips, chop off about 5cm of the stalk ready for steaming or boiling and sliver the top of the spears into ribbons using a potato peeler. If you have a steamer basket, you can steam the asparagus stalks over the potatoes for about 5 mins until tender, otherwise you can cook them in boiling water for about 3 mins. Drain and plunge into cold water to refresh and keep their colour. Steam or blanch the broad beans until just tender and pop them from their skins. Cook the quail’s eggs in boiling water for 2½ mins, tip them into cold water, then peel. Wash and spin the pea shoots and garlic leaves and place in a large salad bowl, keeping back a few leaves to top the dish. Add the sliced radishes, the cooked asparagus, asparagus ribbons, the broad beans, the warm potatoes and the lemon juice. Turn everything together, taking care not to break up the potatoes. Season with a little salt (don’t forget that the ham will be salty) and plenty of black pepper. Slice the eggs in half and scatter over the salad along with the shards of crispy prosciutto and the last few leaves to garnish.

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Prosciutto The Parma Ham and Mozzarella Stand Pea shoots Turnips Radishes Elsey & Bent


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CRUNCH TIME: A GUIDE TO RADISHES Angela Clutton

Picture the scene, if you will, of an early Saturday evening in April or May. My husband is fixing us a cocktail and I’m preparing a little bit of something to go with it. I’m happy because it’s spring, meaning that all I need do is put out a plate of bright radishes and some salt flakes to dip them into. Simple as that: we will have crunchy, refreshingly sharp bites of deliciousness to accompany our drinks. Those radishes – the small, peppy little buttons of heat in gemstone colourways that appear in April and last right through the summer months – may include the scarlet globe or cherry belle (both of which look rather like little cherry tomatoes), or the longer french breakfast radish, which runs from white to blushing pink along its length and is my go-to as a cocktail partner. The perfection of the radish season is in its timing: radishes abound exactly when the warmer, longer days demand laid-back cooking and eating. In her 1960s opus Summer Cooking, Elizabeth David extols the simple pleasures of a dish of long red radishes served with olives, tomatoes, hardboiled eggs, salt and pepper, olive oil, bread and butter. “Not very original, perhaps,” she writes, “but how often does one meet with a really fresh and unmessed with hors d’oeuvre?” It’s a good question – and I am happy to say the answer is, round at mine, most Saturday nights. Freshness is key. Radishes need to be bought – and eaten – when smooth and firm, with unblemished, bright skin. That’s when they’ll be at their crunchiest and tastiest. It’s worth remembering, though, that radishes are still

revivable if you’ve kept them in a fridge a little too long and they’ve begun to resemble your wrinkled fingers after a lengthy soak in the bath. Older radishes can be crisped-up by sitting them in a bowl of iced water for a few hours. The water seeps into their flesh, rehydrating it. Similarly, you can make retro radish water-lilies by scoring four slits down the length of the radish without cutting through the base; after a few hours in iced water they will have opened up into kitschycool flowers. If vegetable art somehow isn’t your thing, instead slice the radishes thinly into salads with a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and mint or dill to bring out the flavours. There’s an Alice Waters recipe for a radish, fennel and dandelion salad, which couldn’t be any more seasonal if it tried, and I have fond memories of making Claudia Roden’s vibrant radish and orange salad from her iconic A Book of Middle Eastern Food. Spring and summer radishes also work marvellously as a quick pickle. The same principal by which water is easily absorbed into the flesh is just as true if the steeping liquid is a mild vinegar. Slice the radishes thinly, sit them in the vinegar with some herbs and spices and a little sugar and in barely an hour you’ll have punchily pickled radish, fabulous on a Scandi-style open sandwich, layered up on rye bread with smoked salmon and chives or parsley. A side benefit to doing this is that the ensuing pickling liquid can be watered down into a prettily pink drink. Larger, milder watermelon radishes are my favourites for quick-pickling. With their


I LOVE THE NAMING OF RADISHES – EACH SO EVOCATIVE OF HOW IT LOOKS: THE CHINA ROSE WITH ITS ROSECOLOURED SKIN AND STRONG TASTE, OR THE BLACK SPANISH ROUND, WHOSE WHITE FLESH IS A GLORIOUS CONTRAST TO THE DARK SKIN

green-tinged white skin and vivid pink flesh, they’re apparently being hailed as the latest hot Instagrammable ingredient. Food futurists (yes, that is a job) are tipping the watermelon radish as the “next avocado”. Maybe so. Maybe this spring and summer we will all be endlessly posting pics of pickled, stir-fried or sliced raw watermelon radishes. I hope so, if only because it means that more of you will be enjoying this heirloom member of the daikon radish family, which is already hugely popular in China, where it originates from.

collection of remedies that recommends men eat radishes at night to protect against “women’s chatter”.

The Chinese have long prized radishes for their medicinal qualities. They’d ferment them in pots for a long time – sometimes as much as 40 years – before using them to treat a range of medical problems, from fever, to intestinal infections, to ulcers. The ancient Greeks and Romans also valued radishes as a medicine, although admittedly in slightly less conventional (to our eyes) ways: as an antidote to poison, to alleviate the pains of childbirth, or – mashed with honey and dried sheep’s blood – to cure baldness. I feel on surer ground with the ancient Roman poet Horace who wrote that radishes “excite the languid stomach” – my pre-dinner Saturday night radishes essentially fulfil the same role.

You can still find some of these varieties, such as the china rose with its rose-coloured skin and strong taste, or the black spanish round, whose white flesh is a glorious contrast to the dark skin. (How I love the naming of radishes – each so evocative of how it looks.) They can be boiled into soups, thinly sliced for eating raw, quick-pickled, or grated like horseradish, which is part of the same family. Spring is a great time for horseradish, too – try giving an extra something to a chicken or fish salad by adding mayonnaise that has a tablespoon of grated horseradish and some chopped herbs stirred into it.

Western medicine has historically had a rather more wary take on radishes for health. Nicholas Culpepper, the 17th century apothecary, wrote rather despairingly of those who “in wantonness eat garden radishes as salad and then regret it”. I have to say I have never felt especially wanton when eating radishes. Nor regretted it. But the raised eyebrows with which I read that pale next to the recommendation of a 10th century

Let’s breeze on past that truly bizarre claim and go back to Culpepper, and the distinction he makes of ‘garden’ radishes. By that he means the small, peppery spring and summer radishes that I have been writing about thus far, which are – as these things go – a relative newcomer to Britain. Before that, our native radishes were larger, more turnip-like varieties.

If you are lucky enough to get horseradish root with its green tops still attached, do not throw those away. They are delicious when cooked, as you might kale, or enjoyed raw like rocket. Likewise, the tops of the smaller radishes. Even the flowers can be delicious, especially if chopped and mixed through butter. Like that, they epitomise why it is that I look forward so much to the arrival of radishes – for the elegant simplicity with which they meld themselves to exactly the things I will want to eat all spring and summer long.


SOPHIA SPRING


RADISH & PINK PEPPERCORN SALAD Olia Hercules Serves 6

Method

Ingredients

Mix the yoghurt with the salt and stir through the vegetables. Taste, making sure it is well seasoned, then sprinkle some pink peppercorns and dill over the salad and serve.

1 medium cucumber, sliced into half moons 150g mixed or regular radishes, chopped 2 spring onions, sliced 50g full fat yoghurt A pinch of pink peppercorns A handful of dill fronds to serve

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KIM LIGHTBODY

Radishes Turnips Full fat yoghurt Kappacasein Pink peppercorns Spice Mountain


BROAD BEAN & BROAD BEAN TIP SALAD WITH GOAT’S CHEESE Kathy Slack Serves 2

Method

Broad beans are, for me, the ultimate legume. Not just wall-to-wall sweetness like a pea, they have texture and a hint of bitterness that makes them a more grown up, savoury option. The sometimes painstaking ritual of removing their velvety pod blanket then popping them out of their silky jackets is often considered a chore, but personally I welcome the chance to marvel at their creation rather than see them as just another green on the side. In this salad, I’ve also added some broad bean tips – the growing shoots of the plant, where the youngest leaves and flower buds are tight and crisp and taste intensely green. It feels satisfyingly neat to see both bean and tip in the same dish, but if you can’t find the tips, pea shoots will do nicely.

Cook the broad beans in a saucepan of boiling, salted water for 1 min, then drain and rinse the beans in ice-cold water to stop them cooking further. Pop the beans out of their jackets and put them in a mixing bowl. Smaller beans can be left in their jackets, but the skins of large beans are a bit chewy and best removed.

Ingredients 200g broad beans (approx 600g in their pods) 25g broad bean tips 2 red spring onions A small bunch of fennel fronds 10 sorrel leaves 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 tsp moscatel vinegar 125g soft goat’s cheese

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Take the broad bean tips and separate the smallest leaves closest to the flower buds from the top of the growing tip. Add both to the mixing bowl. Tear the fennel fronds up, finely chop the spring onions and add these to the bowl too. For the dressing, roughly chop the sorrel leaves, removing any thick stems, and put them in a blender or food processor with the olive oil, vinegar and a pinch of salt. Whizz to make a green sauce. Check the balance of flavours and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Pour half of the dressing over the beans and toss together gently. Spread a thick layer of goat’s cheese over two serving plates. Pile the broad bean mixture on top, drizzle over the remaining sorrel dressing and serve.

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Broad beans Ted’s Veg Moscatel vinegar Brindisa Soft goat’s cheese Une Normande a Londres

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MOREL, PEA & PINK PEPPERCORN PASTA Rosie Birkett Serves 2

Method

Spring is a bit of a show off, bursting onto the scene like it does, jazz hands waving, brandishing fat leaves of pungent wild garlic, deep purple violets and perfect tips of fresh asparagus to lift our winter-worn spirits. There are some lovely ingredients to get excited about at this time of year, and with their delicate, truffley savouriness and miraculous honeycomb texture (ideal for capturing delicious creamy sauces), morels might just steal the show. They’re often showcased alongside fresh peas, a seasonal bedfellow whose inoffensive sweetness allows the subtlety of morels to shine. Here I’ve folded both through pasta licked with cream, parmesan and wilted pea shoots, with pink peppercorns offering a vivid, floral spice. The tarragon lifts the dish with a hint of sweet anise, but if you’re not a fan, replace it with flat leaf parsley or chervil.

Bring a pan of water to the boil. Blanch the peas with the mint sprig for a couple of minutes until just tender, then drain into iced water and set aside.

Ingredients

Once the water is boiling, cook the pasta for a couple of minutes, until al dente, then drain, reserving a cup of the pasta water.

160g fresh peas A sprig of mint 300g morels, cleaned and sliced in half 10g salted butter 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped ½ lemon, zest and juice 8 pink peppercorns, crushed 2 cloves of garlic (or a small handful of wild garlic leaves) 50ml double cream 200g fresh tagliatelle A handful of tarragon, roughly chopped A small block of parmesan, grated 1 bunch of pea shoots

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Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over a high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the morels and fry them for a few minutes, until they have released their moisture, shrunk a bit and are caramelising at the edges. Tip onto a plate. Put a pan of heavily salted water on to boil. Wipe out the skillet and return it to a medium heat, then add the butter and a further 1 tbsp olive oil. Fry the shallot, lemon zest, peppercorns and garlic for a few minutes, until softened and aromatic, then add the cream. Return the morels and peas to the pan, tossing to coat with the sauce.

Add the pasta, parmesan and a good slosh of the cooking water to the frying pan and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to emulsify and combine the sauce. Add in half the pea shoots and the tarragon and stir until the pea shoots are wilted. Season with salt and lemon juice and divide between plates. Top with more pea shoots and a further sprinkling of parmesan.

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Fresh peas Elsey & Bent Morels Tartufaia Fresh tagliatelle La Tua Fresh Pasta

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NETTLE & CORNISH YARG TART Tom Hunt Serves 6-8

Method

This is a winning combination of ingredients. In particular, the Cornish yarg and the nettles go very well together – traditionally Cornish yarg is wrapped in nettle leaves to age. Serve with simply dressed salad leaves.

To make the pastry case, put the flour, butter and a pinch of salt into a blender and blend until the butter is combined finely into the flour, then add one egg and 1 tbsp cold water. Pulse-blend three to five times. Open the top and squeeze a lump of pastry together, if it doesn’t form into a ball then add another 1 tbsp water and pulse again. Repeat if necessary.

Ingredients For the shortcrust pastry case: 200g plain flour, preferably spelt, plus more to dust 100g cold butter, cut into small cubes 2 eggs For the filling: 1 leek, trimmed, cleaned and sliced into 1cm rounds A knob of butter, or glug of olive oil 100g nettles, chopped 200g Cornish yarg, chopped into small pieces 350ml organic double cream 3 eggs, lightly beaten

Turn the pastry out onto the table then bring together with your hands. Wrap in a clean plastic bag and chill in the fridge for 30 mins. Preheat the oven to 180C. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about the thickness of a pound coin. Use the pastry to line a 20cm case, making sure it is pushed down into all the corners and that it overhangs at the top (this will stop the pastry shrinking back). Prick all over with a fork to stop the pastry puffing up. Bake for 20 mins until just cooked, then trim the excess pastry from the edges with a knife. Beat the remaining egg, then brush the pastry, filling any holes or cracks. Return to the oven for 3 mins. Allow to cool. To prepare the filling, put your leeks into a saucepan over a medium heat with a knob of butter or glug of olive oil. Saute for 15 mins until tender, add the chopped nettles and more butter or oil and cook for 2-3 mins, season to taste. Remove from the heat. Stir in the Cornish yarg pieces, then scatter the mixture loosely and evenly into the baked tart case. Mix the cream with the eggs and season with salt and pepper to taste. Fill the tart case with the cream mixture and put in the preheated oven for about 25-30 mins, or until only just set. Give it a wobble and if it looks firm but still moves, it should be ready.

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JOHN HOLDSHIP

Leeks Stark’s Fruiterers Nettles Ted’s Veg Cornish yarg Neal’s Yard Dairy


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The Borough Market Guide to Spring Vegetables  

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