In Greece, skordalia is often served with octopus. It is something I’m extremely fond of, however it involves a borderline-sickening amount of raw garlic. In this take I've stayed true to the flavours of skordalia, but varied the texture with potato chunks and I've taken the sting out of the raw garlic by treating it to some time in hot butter. If you can’t get your hands on nettle, any green leaf will do the trick.
The thought behind this was a sour-cream-and-chives-type vibe. I hope that is what you get – smoky, succulent leeks, crispy little chippies and wee pops of sweet and sour with the currants.
This vibrant crunchy salsa can be eaten after a couple of hours, but is even nicer if left in the fridge overnight where it turns the most beautiful shade of pink. I’ve served these with vegan mayonnaise to keep things plant-based, but use regular mayonnaise if you aren’t fussed.
These vanilla coconut creams are my go-to vegan panna cotta, and these are topped with tart rhubarb jelly. They’re slightly firmer in texture than a traditional gelatine-set dessert due to the use of the plant-based setting agent agar-agar, which is made from algae. Popular throughout South-East Asia, you’ll find it (sometimes referred to simply as ‘agar’) at your local health food or Asian supermarket, though if buying from the latter, make sure you buy plain unflavoured agar as there’s often flavoured agar on offer as well. I recommend always using good-quality coconut milk containing only coconut and water, and free from additives and thickeners (Chantal Organics and Aroy-D both do great ones). If you find your rhubarb stalks are more on the green side of pink, you can add a couple of frozen raspberries to the puree for a natural colour boost.
Tart and zingy all at once, this rosy-pink drinking vinegar is the perfect spring celebration. Look out for a good quality, preferably NZ-made raw, unpasteurised apple cider vinegar with the ‘mother’ to get the most beneficial bacteria.
I used to be nervous of pan-frying salmon, eschewing this method in favour of flash-roasting, but with this straightforward recipe the result is guaranteed crispy-skinned salmon packed with flavour, and the addition of smoky romesco and a light lemony salad rounds it off beautifully.
Spring is a great time for a Coopers Union, a classic cocktail that is a little different. Similar to an Old Fashioned, this is a blend of smooth, bright whisky (such as a lowland Scottish or aged Irish), elderflower and orange and cardamom bitters. The clever twist is that you rinse the glass with a peaty, smoky bold whisky: your brain thinks it is in for a big, bold bomb of a cocktail, but you are actually greeted by a very pleasant, light concoction.
The beginning of spring means all the new season sauvignon blancs are released, and there’s a great selection of citrus. For The Civil Servant we have taken these to make a refreshing mandarin, fennel and sauvignon blanc cocktail. With any leftover mandarins you could make marmalade, then you can have this drink (or something like it) all year round.
Fideua is a little like paella made with pasta such as spaghettini or angel hair pasta snapped into short lengths.