Archive for the ‘Spring’ Category

Spring Greens & Gnocchi

The tunnel is providing some much needed super green food in the last couple of weeks. Like last year I’m using the tops of the early beetroot in salads or in place of spinach. There is also a small amount of beautiful sprouting broccoli.  Good eaten raw or steamed for just about 1 minute.

Spring Greens

My husband loves gnocchi – when I ask him what we should have for dinner it’s french onion soup in winter and gnocchi in summer (sometimes it’s just “steak”….well quite often actually). When I was getting to know gnocchi it seemed a bit of an ordeal to make but it’s quite straight forward and really worth it.  The nice thing is that it goes well with a simple sauce so once the spuds are mashed and cooled dinner doesn’t take too long.

For the gnocchi (2-3 people) I peeled & steamed:

4 medium/large floury potatoes (I used roosters)

When they were cooked I mashed them and left to cool.

Into the cooled mashed potato I added and mixed:

2 egg yolks

1oz / 30g grated parmesan

salt & black pepper

2oz plain flour

Gnocchi Basics

I rolled the potato base into long cylinders and cut off 1 inch pieces of gnocchi bits:

Gnocchi Bits

For the sauce take:

2 good handfuls fresh spinach and beet greens and place them in a frying pan with a little knob of butter and sea salt.  Cover and wilt for 1/2 a minute – stir and transfer to a bowl.  When the greens have cooled squeeze out any excess liquid and chop up roughly.

Reheat the frying pan with another knob of butter and a dash of olive oil.  Add 1 clove crushed garlic and cook for 1/2 minute over a low heat.

Now pour in 100ml cream, bring to a simmer and reduce until slightly thickened to a nice sauce consistency.  Stir in the cooked spinach.  Season with salt & black pepper as needed.  Set aside.

Creamy Spinach

By this stage you should have a large pot of water simmering to cook the gnocchi.  You can cook 1 piece of gnocchi (for consistency & seasoning) before you cut them all out – just drop into boiling water.  When it floats to the top it’s cooked.  If it falls apart you probably need some more flour in the potato mix.  Taste it and adjust seasoning as necessary.

So drop your gnocchi bits into the pot of boiling water and skim off as they rise to the top with a slotted spoon.  Transfer to the pan with the warm cream sauce and stir gently to serve.

I served mine with an extra shaving of parmesan and steamed, fresh sprouting broccoli.

Buon Appetito!

Wild Garlic & Potato Soup

Though very comforting, root vegetables begin to lose their appeal as the days get longer.  This time of year we have to jump on spring greens and what better than free and fresh spring greens?   Not so far from here there is a Coillte forest area called ‘Mote Park’.  It’s a great place to go for a wander and forage for wild garlic – you’ll know it when you smell it.

Wild Garlic Mote Park

I had brought my scissors and a carrier bag so filled it up, brought the wild garlic back to the kitchen, washed it and quickly made wild garlic & potato soup.

Here’s the recipe:

For 6

1 large white onion, peeled & roughly chopped

1 leek, washed & roughly chopped

1 tbsp butter or olive oil

3 large potatoes, peeled & roughly chopped

1 carrier bag wild garlic

1.5L light vegetable stock or water

sea salt & black pepper

1 clove garlic (crushed)


Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onion and leek.  Season with salt, cover and sweat for 15-20 minutes stirring a couple of time.  Remove the lid and add the potato and stock/water.  Bring to the boil and simmer until the potatoes are just cooked.  Add the wild garlic and crushed garlic clove.  Cook for less than 1 minute.  Blitz with a blender and season well.  This soup should look lovely and green.  A dash of cream at the end would be fab.

Potato & Wild Garlic Soup

Little Eats

Young, fresh vegetables from the tunnel have a unique taste that only lasts for a little while in Spring.  They’re innocent, tender and without traces of hardship that the outdoors would have inferred upon them.  They are under no pressure to develop a “tough skin” so to speak

I used some of the beet greens as before, and also boiled the tiny bulbs.  I slowly sweated these baby onions in butter. They are pretty heavenly and were in danger of being eaten completely before dinner was ready.  The whole lot was enjoyed in a spaghetti dish, along with nutmeg, garlic chives and a sprinkle of grated, hard goats cheese.

Beet-leaf & ricotta tagliatelle

It’s yum, nutritious, easy and has a lovely earthy taste.

For 2:

1 white onion, halved & sliced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp butter or olive oil

1 good handful young beetroot leaves and stalks, roughly chopped or torn

2 tbsp ricotta cheese

freshly grated nutmeg

handful freshly grated parmesan

Pasta – tagliatelle for 2

Heat the oil or butter in a frying pan – cook the onion for 10 minutes until soft, but not brown.  Put the pasta on to boil in plenty of salted water.  Add the garlic to the onion and cook for another minute.  When the pasta is almost ready, turn up the heat under the frying pan and add the beetroot stalks and leaves.  Season with salt.  Cook quickly for 1-2 minutes.  Drain the pasta and toss with a little olive oil.  Stir in the cooked beet leaves, pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, freshly ground black pepper and the ricotta.  Serve in a wide bowl or plate and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan for a cheesey punch.  The onions turn a lovely pinky colour, giving the dish the vibrancy we need this soon after winter.  This is still delicious the next day as a salad for lunch.