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Lovage recipes

from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall;

Lovage, lettuce, pea and cucumber soup

A refreshing and pretty summer soup. Serves four.

20g butter
1 onion, finely diced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few young lovage stalks, chopped
700ml chicken or vegetable stock
2 little gem lettuces, finely shredded
100g peas
½ cucumber, cut into 5mm dice
1 small handful lovage leaves, shredded
A few tablespoons of crème fraîche or thick yoghurt, to finish

Warm the butter in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion, thyme and a pinch of salt, and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the lovage stalks and sauté for a couple of minutes. Pour in the stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the rest of the veg (keep back some lovage leaves to garnish) and simmer for five minutes. Season and serve with dollops of crème fraîche and a scattering of lovage leaves.

Mackerel and lovage tarts

If you're short of time, this works well with bought puff. And make one big tart instead of six smaller ones, if you prefer. Serves six.

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely diced
2 bay leaves
3 soft lovage stems (about a stick of celery's worth), finely sliced
350g potatoes, peeled, cooked and cut into 2cm cubes
4 mackerel fillets, cooked, skinned and flaked
1 small handful lovage leaves, finely shredded, plus extra for serving
2 tbsp finely chopped dill fronds, plus extra for serving
3 tbsp crème fraîche
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Put the oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat, add the onion and bay, and sauté gently until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the lovage stems, fry for a couple of minutes, then tip into a bowl with the potato, flaked fish, lovage leaves, dill and crème fraîche. Remove the bay, season and cool.

Roll the pastry into a rectangle about 35cm x 45cm. Cut into six smaller rectangles. Cut a 1cm strip from the edge of each and reserve. Place the rectangles on a large baking sheet lined with parchment, and lightly brush the edges with egg wash. Place the strips around the edges to make a border, and brush lightly with egg wash. Prick the bases of the tarts with a fork.

Bake for 15 minutes until they're starting to turn golden, remove from the oven and divide the filling between the tarts, piling it up quite high. Bake for five to 10 minutes until warmed through. Scatter over dill and lovage, and serve hot or warm.

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