I know the whole foraging thing has become somewhat of a cliché by now but there is something great about the wild ingredients that crop up at spring time. I’ve written about wild garlic and nettles several times but never alexanders, which to my mind taste like a floral celery and since Roman times have served a very similar culinary purpose. I tried to cook with them last May but unfortunately if picked too late the stems become too fibrous to eat, now really is the best time of year for harvesting the plant.
Essentially this dish is just based on a very simple but effective premise: all vegetables taste better when paired with butter, whether it’s as a glaze or in the luscious form of hollandaise. The sprouting broccoli in particular works very well with the latter but then again I’ve yet to find something that hasn’t been improved by a slathering of hollandaise!
You may notice from the pictures below that the wild garlic has been plucked in its entirety and still has its roots intact: a big no-no when foraging as it prevents the plant reproducing next year. This was just down to my foraging partner being unaware of the problem initially; thankfully, the Phoenix Park is overrun with the stuff so there wasn’t much damage done and I do have to admit it looks a lot more impressive on the plate when all in one piece.
For the buckwheat
75g roasted buckwheat
For the alexanders and salsify
2 salsify sticks, peeled, each chopped into three equal pieces and rubbed with lemon juice
2 small alexanders stalks, peeled and chopped in two
For the chargrilled broccoli
150g sprouting broccoli
Grape seed oil
For the wild garlic
8 wild garlic stalks
For the hollandaise
5ml lemon juice, chilled
1 egg yolk, chilled
60g butter, cubed and chilled
- For the buckwheat, add the buckwheat, water and salt to a saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat, cover the pan and cook until all the water has been absorbed and the buckwheat is tender not mushy, around 15 minutes. Reserve and keep warm.
- For the alexanders and salsify, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat and pour in the water.
- Add the salsify and place a lid on the pan and cook until tender but still slightly underdone, around 10-12 minutes.
- Blanch the alexanders in heavily salted, boiling water for 30 seconds.
- Add the alexanders to the pan and cook with the lid off until the contents are coated in a thick glaze. Reserve and keep warm.
- For the broccoli, parboil the florets in heavily salted, boiling water for 2 minutes.
- Remove and shock in iced water.
- Heat a griddle pan over a very high heat until the pan is very hot.
- Pour in a thin layer of oil and add the broccoli.
- Char on both sides, around 1 minute each side.
- If the florets are quite large, break off the heads and leaves from the thick central stalk. Reserve and keep warm.
- For the wild garlic, blanch the garlic in heavily salted, boiling water for 45 seconds. Reserve and keep warm.
- For the hollandaise, add all the ingredients to a small saucepan and place over a low heat.
- Continuously whisk the pan until the butter has melted and the sauce has the consistency of custard, around 4 minutes. Correct the seasoning if necessary.
- To plate, place most of the broccoli in a crescent shape on the outside of the place; lay over two of the garlic stems on the broccoli; place the salsify and alexanders down the length of the crescent; place the other two garlic stems in a circle opposite the crescent; lay the remaining broccoli inside the circle; drizzle over the hollandaise sauce and sprinkle over the buckwheat.