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The Perfect Lunch Competition: The recipes

To celebrate the arrival of Spring we teamed up with our neighbours The Linen Works and the delectable Riverford to envision our perfect lunch (and invited you to do the same)! Scroll down to find out more about the seasonal delights that Riverford prepared for our very special spring-themed lunch...

braised fennel with parmesan and wild garlic soup; tomato salad with sprouting seeds, spring onions and alfafa; wheatberries, purple sprouting broccoli, crispy fried onions, chilli and garlic

wild garlic soup

Serves 4
25g butter
2 (roughly 275g) medium potatoes, cut into 1cm cubes
1 (about 150g) medium onion, chopped
2 Leeks, chopped and washed
1 litre vegetable stock or water
4 big handfuls (about 200g) of wild garlic leaves, chopped
100ml double cream (optional)

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. When foaming, add the potatoes, onion and leek, then toss until well coated. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for about 10 - 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft but do not allow to catch.

Add the stock or water and bring to the boil. Cook until the potatoes are completely cooked. Then add the wild garlic and cook for 1 minutes until wilted. Immediately liquidise the soup with a hand-held stick blender.

Check seasoning and finally stir in the cream if using.

wheatberries, purple sprouting broccoli, crispy fried onions, chilli and garlic

Serves 2
100g wheatberries or you can use freekeh, farro, bulghur or barley
100g purple sprouting broccoli
1 fresh red chilli, very finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, very finely sliced
A few large onions and vegetable oil

Thinly slice the onions. Place in a saucepan and add vegetable oil to about half way to the top of the onions. You don't want to use too much oil as the more intense the flavour the better. The onions will cook down a huge amount. Place on a medium heat and cook carefully until they have sunk below the surface of the oil. Turn up the heat and deep fry until golden brown. Be careful not to burn, stirring regularly, especially in the corners where the onions will cook most quickly. Drain immediately and break up any clumps. Scatter onto some kitchen paper and leave to crisp up. Season lightly with salt. When cool pour the oil into a bottle for further use.

Trim and cook your broccoli in plenty of salted boiling water. Remove and scatter the broccoli onto a tea towel to cool and drain. Add the wheatberries to the same water and cook for 25 minutes or so until chewy and delicious. Drain in a colander. Wipe out the saucepan and heat a little onion oil in it. Add the chilli and garlic and cook until the garlic has turned a beautiful golden brown. Immediately add the drained wheatberries to stop the garlic cooking further. Add the broccoli and a handful of crispy fried onions. Stir well, check seasoning and serve either hot or cold.

carrot, chickpea, coriander and tahini salad

In a bowl mix 1 large tablespoon of tahini with the juice of half a lemon, 2 tablespoons of water and 2 tablespoons of very good extra virgin olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and add 1 small bunch of finely chopped coriander. Next add 1 can of drained chickpeas and lastly add about 500g of grated carrot. If the salad is too thick, add a little more water. Check for seasoning.

potato, leek and mushroom

serves 4
1 cup milk
4 cups double cream
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6 sprigs rosemary (very finely chopped)
10 sprigs fresh thyme (very finely chopped)
2 tablespoons olive oil
10 sliced mushrooms
3 Leeks cut in rings
salt and pepper, to taste
3 lbs baking potatoes, sliced paper-thin

In a saucepan, combine milk, cream, garlic and rosemary over low-medium heat being careful not to boil over. Gently boil for about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
Meanwhile, coat a frying pan with olive oil and place over medium heat.
Sauté the mushrooms until golden brown. Add the thyme and season. Remove.
Heat another frying pan and sauté leeks in butter and olive oil without colour until soft for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Butter a large casserole dish. Arrange 1/3 of the sliced potatoes on the bottom of the pan, overlapping them slightly. Top potatoes with half of the mushroom and then half the leeks. Repeat layering 1/3 of the potatoes and remaining mushroom and then leeks. Arrange remaining potatoes on top. Press the layers down with a spatula to condense.

Pour the infused milk over the potatoes. Cover the dish with foil and place in a preheated 180 degree oven. Bake for 1 hour to hour and a half until the potatoes are tender. Uncover and bake for 15 additional minutes until gratin is golden around the edges. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
Sometimes I like to add a little truffle oil with the cream before adding to potatoes.

tomato salad with sprouting seeds, spring onions and alfafa

Marinate your Sprouting seeds with some very finely chopped garlic, white wine vinegar, salt, freshly ground black pepper, cumin and vegetable oil.
Leave for 12 - 24 hours to marinate. This helps break down the seeds and make them more digestible. To this mix add baby tomatoes cut in half, or large tomatoes in chunky, bite size pieces. Add some finely chopped spring onion and mix well. Check seasoning. At the last moment mix through the alpha alpha and salad leaves if using.

braised fennel with parmesan

Note from Kirsty, Riverford Cooks Manager: This fantastic recipe is by Simon Hopkinson from his great recent TV series “The Good Cook”. I just use white wine instead of the vermouth and omit the Pastis. Sometimes I use some small onions in exactly the same way.

750g/1½lb fennel bulbs, trimmed, halved, trimmings reserved 50g/1¾oz butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp dry vermouth
splash Pastis (optional, alternatively add more dry vermouth)
60g/2oz parmesan (or similar vegetarian hard cheese), grated, plus extra for serving

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3.
Melt the butter in a casserole dish over a low heat. Place the fennel into the butter cut-side down, and scatter around the trimmings. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and increase the heat. Add the vermouth and Pastis. Cover with a sheet of foil loosely pressed down on the vegetables, and put the lid on top. Place into the oven to cook for 30 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and turn over the fennel. Return to the oven and cook for a further 30 minutes, or until very tender when poked with a small, sharp knife. Preheat the grill to high. Remove the fennel from the dish.
Place in a warmed shallow oven-proof dish cut-side up, cover with foil and place in the oven while you make the sauce. Pour the trimmings and cooking juices through a fine sieve suspended over a small pan. Warm through and add 45g/1½oz of the parmesan. Blend with a hand blender until smooth and creamy (about the consistency of pouring cream). Pour the mixture over the fennel and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Place under the grill and cook until the surface is pale golden-brown and slightly bubbling around the edges.

blueberry and raspberry pound cake (we used all blueberries)
adapted from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

2 cups plus 8 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
1 2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
2 tbsp kirsch
1 cup blueberries, rinsed and dried well
1 cup raspberries, rinsed and dried well

Set an oven rack to the middle position, and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Butter a standard-sized 9-cup bundt pan and dust it with flour, shaking out any excess. (If your pan is non-stick, you can get away with a simple coating of oil, no flour needed.) In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups plus 6 tablespoons flour, the baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a food processor, blend eggs and sugar until thick and pale yellow, about 1 minute. Add butter and kirsch, and blend until the mixture is fluffy, about 1 minute, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl. If the mixture looks curdled, don’t worry. Add dry ingredients and process just to combine. Do not over mix. The batter should be thick and very smooth.

In a large bowl, toss berries with the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour.
Pour batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly across the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the cake’s centre comes out clean, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

Transfer cake to a rack, and cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Carefully invert the cake out of the pan onto the rack, and cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

our medium-sized riverford veg box

Our delicious food was provided by Riverford who, for the duration of our perfect lunch competition, would like to offer all new customers a free Riverford Farm Cook Book on their first delivery of a weekly or fortnightly vegbox when they order quoting 'Perfect Lunch'. To order call 01803 762059.