A celebration of British seasonality from Rosie Birkett
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.
500g potatoes, skin on
20g parmigiano reggiano, plus extra to grate
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
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.
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.
Recipe: Rosie Birkett
Images: Helen Cathcart