A seasonal treat that’s quick to prepare and easy on the budget!
We live in a place where wild garlic dominates the hillsides in late winter and early spring. I love the smell of it—delicate at first, and stronger as the flowers begin to emerge, until it can become quite overpowering later in the season. Mid-season is a good time to forage for wild garlic leaves: there’s plenty about, yet they haven’t yet begun to go leathery, and there’s few flower stalks in the way.
Quantities given are per person for a main dish; it will serve more as starters.
|A double handful
||Wild garlic (ransom) leaves
|1 medium or 2 small
|1 cup (1/2 pint)
||Fresh parsley (optional)
||Plain yogurt (optional)
- Rinse and pick over ransom leaves. Discard any that are damaged, or old and leathery. Chop roughly.
Rinsed ransom leaves
A few leaves chopped up
- Clean and chop leek(s).
- Heat oil in a saucepan; add chopped leaves and stir around. Cover and leave to sweat over low heat while you prepare the potatoes.
- Wash potatoes and slice thinly. Cut large slices in half crosswise.
- Stir potatoes in to leaves. Add stock–it should cover all the veg.
Veg mixed together
Just enough stock
- Increase heat to bring to a boil.
- While the stock is heating up, chop a handful of parsley if you’re using it. Add to the pan, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked fully.
- Whizz the soup to a thick velvety texture, with or without any remaining chunks of veg.
- Return to heat for 5 minutes or more, to bring it back up to serving temperature.
- Serve in warmed bowls. Garnish with yogurt, nutmeg and parsley sprigs.
Vegan version with no yogurt
It’s St David’s Day again–time to celebrate all things Welsh, and time for a new recipe using leeks! This one can use virtually all leftover bits and bobs, or can be made fresh. Just add the necessary time to bake potatoes. Caerphilly cheese is also a Welsh speciality, so if you can get it in your area, do give it a try.
||Cold leftover jacket (baked) potatoes
||Steamed chopped leeks
|About an ounce
||Shredded smoked Caerphilly (or other Gouda type) cheese
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C/gas mark 4.
- Cut cold potatoes in half lengthways. Scoop out most of the potato, leaving only enough to help the skins hold a potato shape (your ‘boats’).
- Mash the potato insides and heat gently with butter.
- Stir in hot leeks and ginger.
- Divide the mixture between the three potato ‘boats’ and stuff gently.
- Top with shredded cheese.
Potato boats are stuffed
Just a little bit of cheese will be enough
Potato boats ready to bake
- Bake until heated through and lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
We’ve got a friend who lives on his own and has recently had surgery on his hand. How could we not invite him over for Sunday dinner, even if it means my other half will have to drive out to fetch him? The food will have to be easy to eat one-handed, so fork tender. As he’s got traditional tastes, I’m fixing Oven Pot Roast. Since it’s rather earlier in the season than when I posted that recipe, today’s version doesn’t have celeriac or leeks, but I’m adding chopped up patty pan squash and a bit of celery for extra flavour. And there will be seasonal fruit crisp fresh out of the oven for dessert.
Here’s one I made earlier….
So called ‘winter squash’ is one of my favourite fall and winter foods. (It is actually harvested in autumn.) The main characteristic that distinguishes it from ‘summer squash’ is the density of the flesh. Summer squashes are light and watery, storing briefly at room temperature or in refrigerated conditions. A summer squash past its best discolours and quickly goes squishy. Winter squashes are heavy and dense, and are suitable for long storage in cool pantries or cellars. When finally past their best, the skin will wrinkle and the fruit will begin to collapse in on itself, but will still be usable for a while. The taste of winter squash is similarly more robust than that of summer squash. There are many varieties available, but the one most easily found here in Wales at this time of year is butternut squash.
Stuffing vegetables, especially squash, is incredibly easy and versatile, with the added benefit that you can shorten cooking time by kick-starting it in the microwave, and/or leave it in the oven to keep warm for a fairly long time. For this recipe, I used some of our own small, home-grown butternut squash, in prime condition.
|One, one pound
||Butternut squash (you could use a small acorn squash)
||Leftover beef stew (not runny)
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C/gas mark 4.
- Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeeds.
Flash altered the colour of the flesh.
Butternut squash should have a creamy orangey colour like this.
- Microwave on high power, cut side down, for 3-5 minutes. The squash should be hot to the touch, but the solid end should not be cooked through.
- Divide stew between the two squash halves. Place in baking dish and cover loosely.
Squash stuffed and ready to cover before going in the oven. Notice that the hollowed/stuffed end has begun to take on a shine as it cooks, but the solid end has not.
- Bake for 30 to 60 minutes, until squash is tender and beef is hot through. You can put the dish in the oven before the oven is fully pre-heated, and you can keep it warm in the oven if dinner is delayed. The meat will eventually dry out, so keep it covered to minimize loss of moisture.
- Serve with a green vegetable and complement the dish with a chutney or pickle based on a tart fruit, such as cranberry or rhubarb.
How embarrassing! Within minutes of posting my last recipe, I realized that I had not, in fact, prepared fettuccine, but tagliatelle. I guess I was just too caught up in the alliteration of my recipe name to notice what I was actually cooking! You could, of course, prepare it with actual fettuccine, but the textures won’t be quite as compatible.
Can anybody think of a better clever name for ‘Tagliatelle with fennel and feta’?