Recipes – 4 simple spring supper from Clodagh McKenna

Sit the family around the table and enjoy Clodagh McKenna’s easy supper menu — packed full of seasonal gems, everyone will be asking for more

Asparagus Mimosa

These green spears look so beautiful on the table. And the combination of the roasted asparagus with the fluffy sieved (or finely chopped) hard-boiled egg flecked on top, finished with the sweet and citrussy flavours of the lemon and basil in the dressing, is so delicious! You can serve this up on one or two big platters if you are feeding a large crowd and the eggs and dressing can be prepared the day before, so it’s quite an easy starter to pull together. I’ve also made this just as successfully using stemmed purple sprouting broccoli in place of the asparagus.

Serves 4

20 asparagus spears, woody
ends trimmed

1 tbs olive oil

2 hard-boiled eggs

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE DRESSING

juice of 1 lemon

1 tbs finely chopped shallot

1 tbs torn basil leaves

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

80ml extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
  2. Toss the asparagus spears in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes, or roast on a hot griddle pan over a high heat for 5 minutes, turning often so that they are evenly cooked.
  3. For the dressing, whisk the lemon juice, shallot, basil and mustard together in a small bowl, and season with salt and the pepper. Then add the extra virgin olive oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly.
  4. Shell and halve the eggs, then push through a medium-mesh sieve into another small bowl or finely chop.
  5. Toss the baked or roasted asparagus with 1 tbs of the dressing in a large bowl, then divide the dressed asparagus between four plates. Spoon the remaining dressing over the asparagus and sprinkle the sieved or chopped egg on top.

Hazlenut and herb-crusted lamb cutlets

The flavours of the herbs and hazelnuts roasted along with the lamb cutlets are utter heaven here, but you could use almonds or pine nuts instead if you prefer. The last time I made this dish was at my good friend and London theatre queen Sally Greene’s house. As it was a large supper gathering, I prepared the pea and wild garlic purée ahead in the morning, along with the lamb cutlets right up to the stage of putting them in the oven, so it was very easy to serve.

Serves 6

3 French-trimmed racks of lamb

(about 6 cutlets per rack)

2 tbs finely chopped mixed rosemary, thyme and flatleaf parsley

120g blanched hazelnuts, toasted

and crushed

2 tbs olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE PEA & WILD GARLIC PURÉE

600g frozen peas

75g wild garlic leaves, thoroughly

washed and chopped

75g salted butter

wild garlic flowers and pert leaves,

thoroughly washed, to garnish

Method

  1. Remove the racks of lamb from the fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
  3. Using a sharp knife, score the fat of the lamb racks in a crisscross pattern. Heat a large frying pan over a high heat. Add each rack in turn, fat side down, to the hot pan and sear the fat, then transfer to a large roasting tin.
  4. Mix the herbs, hazelnuts and olive oil together in a small bowl, then press the mixture on to the seared fat of the lamb racks. Roast for 15 minutes.
  5. While the lamb is roasting, prepare the pea and wild garlic purée. Cook the frozen peas in a saucepan of boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain and add to a blender or food-processor along with the wild garlic and butter. Season with salt and pepper and blend to a smooth consistency. Transfer the purée to a saucepan ready to warm through just before serving.
  6. Remove the lamb racks from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes, then slice into individual cutlets. Spoon the warmed pea and wild garlic purée in the centre of four warmed plates and lay three lamb cutlets on top. Garnish each serving with wild garlic flowers and a wild garlic leaf.

Wild Garlic Tagliatelle with Goat’s Cheese, Courgettes and Toasted Almonds

I love making this dish during the spring because it’s so light and fragrant. During the remainder of the year, I simply replace the wild garlic with other fresh herbs that are in season, such as basil, mint or oregano. I sometimes add grilled Dublin Bay prawns (langoustines), prawns or chicken to this dish for a weekday one-course supper

Serves 4

2 tbs olive oil

4 courgettes, cut into ribbons using
a vegetable peeler

500g fresh tagliatelle

4 tbs chopped wild garlic leaves

200g soft goat’s cheese

100g blanched almonds, toasted
and chopped

50g Parmesan cheese, shaved

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Place a griddle pan or frying pan over a medium–high heat and add 1 tbs of the olive oil. Add the courgette ribbons to the pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil over a high heat. Stir in the fresh pasta and cook for 3 minutes. Drain the cooked pasta and return to the pan, then add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and gently toss to coat.
  3. Stir the wild garlic, grilled courgette ribbons, soft goat’s cheese and almonds into the pasta, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve the tagliatelle on a warmed platter or individual plates, with the Parmesan shavings sprinkled on top.

Lemon Verbena Possets

I had kind of forgotten about possets until recently when I was at my favourite Italian restaurant in London, Trullo. it had lemon posset on the dessert menu, which I ordered, served with buttery shortbread for scooping into the posset. It reminded me just how good a posset can be. This recipe is the closest I have come to capturing the Trullo moment. I have added lemon verbena, as it gives it such a delicious lemon depth, but don’t worry if you can’t find it as you can just leave it out. You can make this dessert up to two days before serving, keeping it in the fridge.

Serves 4

2 lemons

125g caster sugar

6 lemon verbena leaves, plus
4 leaves to serve

425ml double cream

Method

  1. Grate the zest of the lemons into a saucepan, then squeeze out and add the juice, followed by the sugar and lemon verbena leaves.
  2. Place the pan over a low heat and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Whisk in the cream and cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Divide the mixture between four small glasses or ramekins. Leave to cool, then chill in the fridge for 2 hours until set.
  4. Remove the possets from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving and top each posset with a lemon verbena leaf before serving.

Clodagh’s Suppers by Clodagh McKenna, published by Kyle Books, £20.

Photography by Dora Kazmierak

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