Gurnard, Cannellini beans and Wild Garlic Salsa Verde

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
Olive oil  
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.











Favourite Five Gluten Free

favorite five

Those of you who follow @spadeforkspoon on Twitter may have noticed an increase in tweets about gluten free cooking over the last few weeks. This is because my son has recently been diagnosed as coeliac and therefore needs to follow a gluten free diet. Adapting meals to fit in with his new dietary requirements has been a bit of a challenge, but we’re getting there. Little Button Diaries asked me to create a Gluten-free Favourite Five for their blog. So, take a look and see what made the final five.

What would be in your favourite five gluten-free dishes?

Favourite Five Mustard Recipes

Spadeforkspoon Favourite FiveMustard is a great ingredient offering piquancy to many a dish. It is a member of the Brassica family of plants which has tiny round edible seeds as well as tasty leaves. Its English name, mustard, comes from a contraction of the Latin mustum ardens meaning burning must. This refers to the spicy heat of the crushed mustard seeds and the French practice of mixing the ground seeds with must, the young, unfermented juice of wine grapes. Although mustard was considered a medicinal plant initially, it has become a staple of many food cultures. Prepared mustard dates back thousands of years to the early Romans, who used to grind mustard seeds and combine them with wine to form a paste not much different from the prepared mustards we have today. It’s a store cupboard essential and here are my favourite five uses of mustard.

Mustard Soup  – This is a delicious soup which I first tasted in Amsterdam. It combines the piquancy and texture of wholegrain mustard with a silky smooth creme fraiche based liquor. Simple to make and a great winter warmer.

Cheese and Mustard Scones – Cheese scones are one of life’s little pleasures; especially so when served warm and the butter melted slightly on top. The addition of a little grain mustard really brings out the cheesiness, and gives them a slightly more sophisticated flavour. My son has recently been diagnosed as coeliac, so this recipe is for gluten free scones, but the addition of mustard to your usual cheese scone recipe would work. Combine 275g gf plain flour, 50g ground almonds, 3tsp baking powder, 2 tsp xanthum gum and 1 tsp salt in bowl and rub 100g butter into the dry mix to make breadcrumbs. Add 100g of whatever cheese you have around (generally cheddar and Parmesan in our case). Combine 2 eggs with a tbsp wholegrain mustard and 125ml yoghurt. Pour this into breadcrumb mix and bring the ingredients together with a fork. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and flatten to 3cm thick, before cutting out into scone shapes. Transfer onto a baking sheet, brush the tops with a little milk and grate a little more cheese on top. Cook for 10 minutes at 220 °C. Leave to cool slightly before eating.

Piccalilli – This has been my food revelation of the year. For years I’ve seen the yellow pots of Piccalilli on sale and thought they looked over processed and not too tempting. Then early in 2013 I had a dish in Bridport which had a delicious Piccalilli accompanying pig’s head croquettes. It just worked so well. So, when I had a glut of veg at the plot, I made some of my own and it’s been in constant use ever since. As well as vegetables from the plot, it uses a combination of English mustard powder and mustard seeds to make a simple punchy preserve.

Mustard mash – A simple use of wholegrain mustard to give the humble mash a bit of a twist. Boil, drain and mash your potatoes, before adding a knob of butter and a spoonful of wholegrain mustard. It goes brilliantly with sausages, but would work with other meats too.

Mustard and Honey Dressing – This is our ‘go-to’ dressing. Throughout most of the year we have a jar of this in the fridge. It’s speedy to make, lasts a few days, and really compliments a range of salad leaves. To make, just add the following to a jar with a screw-top lid: 3tbsp olive oil, 1tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1/2 clove of garlic crushed, 1/2 tbsp honey, pinch of salt and sugar and a few twists of black pepper. Cap and shake vigorously to emulsify. It can be easily upsized for the summer months, when there isn’t a day that goes by without salad featuring on our plates.

mustard dressing
What ways do you use mustard in your cooking?




Sort of Dutch Mustard Soup

I came across this soup on a trip to Amsterdam; where we had it at as a starter at a great little restaurant serving modern Dutch food. I ordered it, as I’m a big fan of mustard and was curious to see how a mustard soup would taste, especially as it was garnished with crayfish. The combination of the piquant mustard and the sweet little pieces of crayfish was a revelation. It’s been a while, but having been given some fantastic beer wholegrain mustard for Christmas, I finally got round to creating my own version of this soup the other day. No crayfish, but the salty bacon compliments the soup well and (it seems) is a traditional garnish.

You will need
1tsp butter
1 chopped onion
1 litre stock
125g crème fraiche
125g cream cheese
2tbsp wholegrain mustard
4tbsp cornflour/water mix
Crispy bacon and parsley to garnish

Melt the butter and gently sweat the onions until they are soft and translucent. Combine the crème fraiche, cream cheese and mustard. Add the stock to the onions and bring to the boil, before whisking in the mustard mix until smooth, then simmer for a few minutes. Add the cornflour mix, stir, and allow the soup to thicken Serve the soup with a sprinkle of crispy bacon bits and a bit of chopped parsley.