French New Potatoes with Wild Garlic and Spring Greens with Toasted Hazelnuts and Lemon

A couple of French sides here for a perfect lunch that I created last Sunday to serve  alongside my Bebek börek. This was a joyous meal inspired by early spring days in Istanbul and Normandy; the contrasts between the two couldn’t be more marked, yet everything came together so beautifully. With regard to the latter I refer specifically to La Suisse Normande which quietly spans the departments of Calvados and Orne. Here the land is soft, lush and gentle providing sanctuary to hundreds of artisan gastronomic producers who while away their days enriching local lives. From cheeses – such as camembert, Pont l’Evêque and livarot to orchards famous for the green, sweet, crunchy, sour, ripe apples reserved for the making of exquisite cider, calvados and sparkling perries – there’s something for everyone here. One quiet morning, after a night of sweet soft rain, I stepped out of our little stone cottage and walked barefoot to the shady banks of the river to collect wild garlic to provide a vibrant highlight to the local new potatoes I bought from the market the day before along with two bottles of cider, a slick of hand-churned butter, two crabs, a punnet of lemons, two rustic pain de levan, a jar of homemade strawberry jam, a bunch of spring greens wrapped in damp brown paper and some wild noisettes. This is one of the dishes I created that day – new potatoes enriched with golden butter, slivered wild garlic and a generous flurry of la fleur de sel from the vast open plains of the Camargue. The rain returned of course – as it always does – to cool the air and nurture the sweet meadows that are the source of the most coveted dairy in the land.

New Potatoes with Wild Garlic

Serves 4

Ingredients

Potatoes:
800g new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
10 wild garlic leaves, washed and dried
25g butter
One lemon, zested
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground mixed peppercorns
Wild garlic flowers
Pul biber, to garnish

Greens:
400g spring greens, sliced into thin strips
30g hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and roughly chopped
One lemon, zested and juiced (you can also use a lime)
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground mixed peppercorns
Pul biber, to garnish

How I make them

Place the potatoes in a large plan, cover with water and salt generously. Cover and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 15-20 minutes until they are cooked through.

Meanwhile, prepare all the ingredients for the greens and boil a kettle of water. Finely slice the wild garlic leaves, place them in a dish and cover with clingfilm.

When the potatoes are done, add the butter and lemon zest to the plan and return to the heat to melt the butter. Add the wild garlic leaves and season to your taste. Place a lid over the pan whilst you put together the spring greens.

Fill a pan with just boiled water and salt generously. Place the greens into the pan and blanch for a couple of minutes until they are tender and bright with just a hint of crunch.

Drain the greens and quickly transfer them to a large mixing bowl. Add the hazelnuts, the lemon (or lime) zest and juice. Season to your taste.

Transfer everything into a warm bowls, garnish the potatoes with the wild garlic flowers and a sprinkling of pul biber. Serve both dishes immediately.

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