Sunday, March 30, 2014

Risotto for spring

Another weekend's walking - this time in the Kent countryside - has taken me through some more fragrant patches of wild garlic. The flowers are not out yet, but the leaves are so bright and green and vivid, it feels somehow joyful - and almost a shame at the same time - to eat them.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Celebrating spring: wild garlic and pea lasagne

Yesterday was the perfect spring day - boundless sunshine, daffodils blooming and, finally, some real warmth in the air. Just being out in the countryside on a day like that is enough to bring joy to the soul. The previous day I had seen a pond full of frogs doing what frogs do in spring time, so all in all it definitely felt like nature was bursting into life.

I gained even more joy by discovering some wild garlic already looking lush and green in the Surrey Hills. I hadn't expected it to be ready for a few weeks yet - it's amazing how much earlier everything seems to be happening this year.

Here's the dish I created to celebrate springtime and the first of the wild garlic. Lasagne is often served with garlic bread, but I've put the garlic in the lasagne instead.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Risotto with peas and thyme

I think I've lost count of the number of times that a packet of frozen peas has saved the day. Versatile, cheap, almost as good as fresh, and there in the freezer when you need them  - what more could you ask for?

Last night I had very little in the fridge and even less inspiration. Peas and rice saved the day. Turning half the peas into a puree adds body to the rice and means that every grain of rice comes with the fresh, sweet flavour of peas. And my pot of lemon thyme on the windowsill turned it from a slightly pedestrian dish into something a bit more sophisticated. If you don't have lemon thyme, normal thyme will do, and you might want to add a bit of lemon zest. Or ring the changes with other herbs you have around - parsley, basil, chives...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Chunky minestrone-style stew

Here's a warming, comforting bowl of food which is fairly quick, healthy and is based mainly on store-cupboard ingredients (well, as long as you have some green veg in the freezer).

You could cook the pasta in together with the stew to save energy and washing-up, but I find that cooking it separately makes it easier to get the pasta and the stew cooked just how you want them.

Any leftovers will be just as tasty when reheated the next day, although be aware that it will probably absorb more of the liquid and become thicker.