Seasonal local food recipe No.318 – Jamie’s wonderful wild garlic and sausage fusilli


A simple supper dish to celebrate the start of spring here in Cornwall. Jamie Oliver says: “This garlicky pasta has a deep, earthy flavour – totally delicious with the Cumberland sausage.”

Serves: 4

Preparation/cooking time: 50 minutes

2 heaped teaspoons fennel seeds
2 dried red chillies, crumbled
olive oil
4 higher-welfare coarse Italian or Cumberland sausages
4 handfuls wild garlic leaves, washed
320g fusilli
1 lemon
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 small handful freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bash up the fennel seeds and chillies in a pestle and mortar, then put to one side. Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan on a medium heat. Cut open the sausage skins and squeeze the meat into the pan. Stir it around with a wooden spoon, breaking it up into small pieces so it resembles coarse mince. Fry for a few minutes until the meat starts to colour and the fat has started to render out.

Add the bashed up fennel seeds and chillies to the meat, and cook on a medium heat for around 10 minutes until the meat is crisp, dark golden brown and caramelised. Turn the heat down to low.

Put a large saucepan of salted water on to boil. Blanch the wild garlic leaves in the boiling water for 3 minutes, then scoop out and put in a food processor. Add the fusilli to the water, bring it back to the boil and cook according to the packet instructions. Blitz the leaves in the food processor until you have a deep green sauce, then add a glug of olive oil, a grating of lemon zest and a pinch of salt and pepper.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it in a colander, reserving some of the cooking water. Put the pasta back in the saucepan and add a splash of the cooking water and a squeeze of lemon juice. Gently stir the lovely green sauce into the pasta to coat it then immediately divide the pasta between your bowls. Top with the delicious crisp sausage meat and a nice grating of Parmesan cheese, and serve.

Seasonal local food recipe No.286 – Hugh’s raw courgette and fennel with peanut dressing

This recipe is from my new book – River Cottage Light and Easy by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall.  It can be dished up as a light lunch or starter on its own or as a partner with some protein such as lentils, chickpeas, chicken or fish for something more substantial.

Serves 2, or 4 as a starter

Preparation time: 15-20 minutes

For the dressing
2 Tbs no sugar added peanut butter
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp runny honey
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

200g young small courgette
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs
A little extra virgin rapeseed or olive oil
1 Tbs sunflower or pumpkin seeds or a mix of the two (optional)
A small handful of basil or mint leaves

To make the dressing, put all the ingredients in a bowl, adding salt and pepper as needed, bearing in mind that the nut butter will add salt.  Add 2 tablespoons water and whisk until you have a thick mixture, smooth except for any chunks of nut.  It should be loose enough to fall off the spoon in thick ribbons – you can whisk in a little more cold water, if necessary, to reach this consistency.

Top and tail the courgettes, then use a veg peeler to shave them lengthways into wafer-thin ribbons.  Put into a large bowl.  Trim the fennel, removing any tough and fibrous outer layers, saving a few of the fronds if there are any.  Slice the fennel, top to bottom, as thinly as you can, and add to the courgettes.

Trickle a little oil over the veg, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss lightly.  Scatter the seeds, if using, over the veg and spoon on the dressing.  Finish with roughly torn basil or mint leaves and fennel fronds if you have them, then serve.

Seasonal local food recipe No.180 – Cauliflower with fennel and mustard seeds


Or Baghari phool gobi – from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery (the book of the BBC series). This is delicious on its own with rice or jacket potatoes, or served as a side dish with pretty much anything.

Serves 6

Preparation time: 40 minutes (including 30 minutes soaking time)
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes

1 large cauliflower
7 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp whole fennel seeds
1 tbsp whole black mustard seeds
1 tbsp very finely chopped garlic
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1½ tsp salt
4 tbsp water

Cut the cauliflower into delicate flowerets – no longer than 5cm, no wider at the head than 2cm inch and about 1cm thick. Put them into a bowl of water for at least half an hour. Drain them just before you get ready to cook.

Heat the oil in a large 25-30cm frying pan over a medium flame. When hot, put in the fennel and mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds start to pop, put in the finely chopped garlic. Stir and fry until the garlic is lightly browned. Add the turmeric and cayenne. Stir once and quickly put in the cauliflower, salt, and about 4 tbsp water. Stir and cook on medium heat for 6-7 minutes or until cauliflower is just done. It should retain its crispness and there should be no liquid left. If the water evaporates before the cauliflower is done, add a little more.

If your frying pan is smaller than the suggested size, the cauliflower will take longer to cook. In that case, it might be a good idea to cover it for 5 minutes.

Seasonal local food recipe No.154: Fennel and potato bake

This simple and satisfying dish comes from Veg Box Recipes. They say: “It’s a comforting dish for rainy weather and the combination of flavours helps make the fennel’s aniseed more subtle.”

Serves 2 (as a main dish)

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 30 minutes

4 large potatoes (or 6 small), scrubbed
1 bulb fennel
2 gloves garlic, crushed or minced
300ml semi-skimmed milk, or 300ml single cream, or 150ml of each
1 free range egg
butter, for greasing
salt and freshly ground pepper, nutmeg to taste
(optional) tomato slices to garnish


Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5 / 190C.

Slice the potatoes and fennel very thinly – ideally using a mandolin. Grease a large baking dish with the butter and arrange the potato and fennel slices in alternative layers with garlic and lots of seasoning in between each layer.

Mix together the cream and / or milk, egg and nutmeg with lots more seasoning. Pour the mixture over the vegetables already in the baking dish, cover and bake for about 1 ½ hours, removing the cover for the last 30 minutes until the top has browned nicely.

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