I have been on the search for some wild garlic for weeks. Everywhere I went, my eyes had been peeled for the beautiful white flowers and my nose was seeking out that allium aroma which is such a giveaway of this springtime plant. Up until last weekend I had begun to think that this year’s abnormal weather had affected the wild garlic and caused it to disappear. Then, when away in Dorset, I found some. Under the woodland canopy, in a damp corner, there it was. I hurriedly gathered some and my mind began to race with ideas.
Recently I was contacted by Maille, purveyors of all things mustard, and asked if I’d like to enter a competition using their products. I’ve always said that I wouldn’t do reviews or product promotions; but as I use their mustards all the time I feel I can do so with a clear conscience. Armed with mustard and wild garlic I knew exactly what to make. Salsa Verde. This sauce is a brilliant way to use fresh herbs from the plot and a fantastic accompaniment to fish and meat. The acidity of the salsa combines particularly well with the flavour of meaty fish like Gurnard (a great sustainable option, which is only really caught as bi-catch and if we bought more of it would alleviate the pressure on other species).
You will need (serves 2)
2 decent sized Gurnard fillets
For the Cannellini beans
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 clove garlic (crushed)
Small sprig fresh rosemary
1 tbsp. chopped parsely
Grated zest 1/4 lemon
1 can Cannellini beans
For the salsa verde
Parsley, mint and basil leaves (a small handful of each)
A handful of wild garlic leaves
1/2 tbsp. each of capers
1/2 tbsp. gherkins (I used Maille le Mini Recette Classique, they have a natty cage inside the jar so you don’t have to delve into the jar to grab a gherkin)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard (I used the Mailles Dijon Orginale)
1 anchovy fillet
Enough olive oil to bring the salsa verde together into a pourable sauce
For the beans, put a splash of olive oil in a saucepan, and mix in the garlic. Add the rosemary sprig, and the lemon zest and warm through. Remove the rosemary and add the drained and rinsed beans, before adding to the pan and warming through. Take a third of the beans and whizz in the blender, then return to the pan. Finally add a small handful of chopped parsley.
The salsa verde is simple to prepare. Start by blanching the wild garlic leaves, refreshing in cold water, and allow to cool. Finely chop the garlic, herbs, gherkins, capers and anchovy using a sharp knife and combine with the mustard and enough oil to make a pourable sauce. Put to one side for the flavours to mingle and mature. Season the cod cheeks with salt and pepper and fry in a little olive oil for 2 minutes on each side. In the last minute, add the chopped garlic and a little lemon juice.
To cook the gurnard, season the skin side of the fillet, then add skin side to a hot buttery pan. Fry until the skin becomes crispy, around 3 minutes. Turn over and cook for a further minute. To serve, spread the bean mix on the plate, place the fillet on top and then place some salsa verde on top.