Early harvests.

I love this time of year – it’s when the foraging begins!

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…I say foraging, but we actually cultivate both wild garlic and nettles in our back garden!

Wild garlic has such a short season you have to make the most of it while it’s still here – so we’re having wild garlic in EVERYTHING just now. Nettles – they’re best when they’re still young and tender.

So these got picked, washed and sauteed with some sliced fennel bulbs. I baked some asparagus in olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper. Made some almond and cashew riccotta (blitzed them up with some olive oil, lemon juice and salt – delicious!), stuffed some large mushrooms with them, topped off with some basil pesto, and served with some seeded malthouse sourdough.

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It was a bit tasty.

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An Italian feast with a difference.

I feel a bit dirty saying this, but this dish was inspired by…. Jamie Oliver.

Italian roast

Sometimes we watch mindless drivel on 4od just like everyone else.

This time around it was “Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feasts” – or whatever it’s called. Jamie Oliver was there, with his big rubbery lips, tearing up a variety of game birds and throwing the grease around everywhere, before slopping it onto a huge pile of polenta.

Oddly, this made me wonder what it’d be like to do a similar dish with some of my favourite veggies.

Polenta’s one of those things i’d been wary of for years. I’d first tried to cook it many many years ago and it turned out grainy and horrible. This time around, I got it right. The trick is to keep it moving, and sieve in the cornmeal to avoid the lumps. I added some Violife vegan cheese to this one, and it really enriched it.

On the veggie front – fennel, asparagus, red onion, red kale – griddled, roasted, crispy and delicious.

Then a simple red wine, veg stock and garlic reduction poured over the top.

Add even more red wine – party on a plate!

Pizza time!

I’ve been reading alot about “white pizza” recently, and decided to try my hand at one….

White pizza with griddled fennel and asparagus

I make alot of pizzas – they’re easy to make, and REALLY tasty, but I’d never had a go at “white pizza”until this.

On a white pizza a bechamel sauce replaces the more traditional tomato sauce.

 

So I knocked up my usual thin and crispy base (plain flour, olive oil, salt and oat milk), stuck it in the oven to part-cook, and set to work on a savoury bechamel.

 

I finely diced a white onion, and set it to sizzling away in some olive oil, then gently started to sieve in some plain flour, stirring all the time. Once all the flour was in place, it was time to start slowly pouring in the oat milk – it thickens up really fast at this point, and it’s important to keep stirring! When I was happy that it was smooth enough I set it aside.

 

Next up, I griddled some asparagus and fennel, blitzed up a nut cheese with some cashews, salt and water, and cooked this off with some garlic and spinach.

 

Layered up, and popped in to oven for a second quick blast – then eat!