Spring Selections

by Simone Conti

Spring Minestrone

Serves 4 – Suggested Wine: Viognier (France)

Spring is finally here! I love this period of the year when there are a lot of fruits and vegetables back in season. Please try to use local and in season products to reduce our carbon footprint and support local producers.

The spring minestrone is a great example of how to enjoy all these great spring vegetables that are in season now. You can serve it hot or cold and enjoy all those delicious vegetables with a good glass of wine.

150g asparagus 
100g shelled fresh peas  
100g shelled fresh small broad beans  
150g fine French beans, chopped 
Extra virgin olive oil
2 spring onions, finely chopped 
1/4 head of celery, finely chopped 
200g waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes 
500ml chicken stock 
50ml double cream  
salt and black pepper to taste 


1.  Blanch the asparagus, peas, broad beans and French beans in a pan of boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside on a tray.

2.  Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a saucepan, add the spring onions, celery and potatoes. Fry for about 3 minutes until the spring onions are soft, stirring occasionally. Add the blanched vegetables and fry for a further 5 minutes.

3.  Pour in the chicken stock, bring to the boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes.

4.  Stir in the double cream and season with salt and pepper. Serve in bowls with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Spring Roast Red Mullet Fillet

Serves 4 – Suggest Wine: Pecorino (Italy)

12 Charlotte potatoes, peeled 
1 large fennel bulb  
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
2 whole red mullets, scaled and filleted (ask our very good fishmonger in Cranleigh)
3 tbsp of pitted black olives 
1 tbsp small cappers in vinegar, drained 
2 tbsp chopped parsley   
200g Datterini or cherry tomatoes, cut in half 
Lemon juice 
salt and freshly ground black pepper.


1.  Preheat the oven to 200c. Cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water for about 10 minutes until just tender; drain and cut into 5mm slices. While the potatoes are cooking, cut the fennel into 1cm half-moon slices. Cook the fennel in another pan of boiling salted water for about 5 minutes until tender and then drain.

2.  Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof frying pan and fry the potato slices until they start to colour. Add the fennel and fry for a minute longer.

3.  Season the mullet fillets with salt and pepper, then place, skin side up, on top of the potatoes and fennel. Scatter the olives, capers, parsley and tomatoes over the fish. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 5 minutes.

4.  Remove from the oven and finish with a squeeze of lemon and an extra drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately.

Coffee Pistachio Chocolate Truffles

Makes around 32 truffles – Suggest Drink: Coffee, Tea or a nice brandy / cognac

These rich truffles are perfect for the end of a meal or with coffee or tea when you have some friends around. If you don’t drink coffee, add a liqueur instead.

320g dark chocolate   
100ml very strong espresso, chilled  
100ml cream, make sure it’s cold 
250g shelled pistachio nuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped


1.  Melt chocolate in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water and then remove from the heat. Combine the coffee and cream and pour over the chocolate, mixing well.

2.  Mix in half the nuts and then leave to cool in the refrigerator until the mixture becomes quite firm; stir once or twice as it cools.

3.  Take large marble-sized lumps and roll in the remaining nuts, making sure they don’t look too perfect or smooth.

4.  This will keep in the refrigerator for up to one month.

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