Nothing compares to the soft, floppy leaves of a homegrown British lettuce.
Salad leaves are an easy introduction to home growing, but I now couldn’t live without a salad spinner. Nothing compares to the soft, floppy leaves of a homegrown British lettuce.
Pan-fried cod with hazelnut mash and braised lettuce with peas and soya beans (serves 4)
800g potatoes, such as Maris Piper
A generous splash of olive oil
100ml whole milk
4 lettuce leaves, such as cos
2 spring onions
A handful fresh parsley
150g soya beans
100ml white wine
4 pieces cod fillet
200ml white wine
200ml fish stock
200ml double cream
1tbspn lemon juice
50g hazelnuts, chopped
Peel the potatoes and cut them into even-sized pieces. Bring them to the boil in salted water and simmer until tender (if they’re undercooked, you may end up with lumpy mash). Drain in a colander and return to the pan, adding a generous splash of olive oil, and mash it all together. Add the milk a little at a time to check the quantity and mash until you have soft and creamy potatoes. Put a lid on the saucepan until you’re ready to serve them.
Heat a little butter in a large frying pan and add the finely sliced lettuce leaves, chopped spring onions, peas, parsley and soya beans. Pour in the white wine and simmer gently until cooked.
Meanwhile, gently fry the cod in a little olive oil and butter until lightly browned and the flakes begin to separate. Remove to a warming plate and then, using the same pan, make the sauce by adding the wine, reducing by half, then adding the fish stock and again reducing by half. Pour in the cream and heat for a couple of minutes, then stir in the lemon juice. Use a whisk to swirl it around and then taste for seasoning.
To serve, pipe three mounds of mash onto each plate and sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts over them. Cut each piece of cod into three and arrange around the mash, spoon the greens around the fish and then drizzle the sauce over it all. Serve immediately.
More ways with salad leaves
Grilled cos lettuce with Parmesan
Slice 2 cos lettuces into quarters, cutting through the core. Drizzle olive oil over them, then place them cut side up under your grill until lightly browned and charred in some places. Add finely grated Parmesan, lemon zest and juice, toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of balsamic. Serve with grilled chicken breasts or fish.
Twice-baked cheese-and-mustard soufflés with salad leaves
Butter four ramekins generously. Heat 30g butter in a pan until melted and then add 15g plain flour. Stir well, remove from the heat, then slowly pour in 175g milk, stirring continuously. Once smooth, add a tablespoon wholegrain mustard and return to the heat for a few minutes, stirring continuously until thickened. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and allow to cool for a moment before adding 2 egg yolks, seasoning and 120g grated cheese, such as Cheddar or Parmesan. In a clean, dry bowl, whisk the 2 egg whites to soft peaks. Fold the egg whites into the cheese mixture with a metal spoon, a little at a time. Pour the mixture into the ramekins. Arrange the ramekins in a high-sided ovenproof dish and pour boiling water into it so the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 10–14 minutes in a hot oven. Once cooled, the soufflés will keep in an airtight container in your refrigerator until ready to use (or freeze at this point). When ready to serve, simply scatter them with cheese and put them into a hot oven for 20 minutes, or until puffy. Serve with lightly dressed salad leaves.