Recipes: Ricotta-stuffed nasturtium blooms, stir-fried paua, and wild weed pesto

Ricotta-stuffed nasturtium blooms is a great way to clear the garden of too many flowers.
Ross Giblin

Ricotta-stuffed nasturtium blooms is a great way to clear the garden of too many flowers.

By the time the official festive season is over, I've had it with shopping (and so has my wallet). January is the perfect time of year to turn your back on the supermarket and forage in the wild instead – even if the definition of "wild" varies greatly from person to person.

If you're connecting to fishing types, you'll be in clover with regular deliveries from the deep. If, like me, you have an unruly and overgrown garden, you'll be knee-deep in oxalis, nasturtiums, and self-seeding parsley instead. Here's how to put them all to good use.

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RICOTTA-STUFFED NASTURTIUM BLOOMS

Serves 3-4 as a canape

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: nil

Five years ago, when we moved into our current home, I bemoaned the lack of nasturtiums in the garden. I needn't have worried, because now they're everywhere. If you think life is too short to stuff a nasturtium flower, then you can always just make the ricotta and feta mixture, scoop it into a bowl and decorate it with a few blooms instead. But doing it this way is much more fun.

About 20 nasturtium flowers, stems attached
½ cup ricotta
½ cup diced feta
2 tablespoons New Zealand extra virgin olive oil
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Carefully wash and dry the nasturtium flowers, making sure to evict any stray insects.

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Beat together the ricotta, feta, olive oil, and lemon zest until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Using a small spoon, or a piping bag, fill each flower with about a teaspoonful of the ricotta mixture. Arrange on a platter and serve immediately.

STIR-FRIED PAUA WITH CHILLI AND CORIANDER

Serves 2-4 as an entree or light main

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

When I was 13, I went on holiday with my cousins to the Far North, where the adults caught so much paua the children were begging for sausages as a treat. My neighbour passed on the "boil it first" method, which works well (and requires a lot less effort than bashing it with a hammer).

2-3 paua, cleaned
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 small red chilli, deseeded
6 spring onions, finely sliced
2 limes
2 handfuls fresh coriander leaves

Half-fill a pot with water and bring to the boil. Drop in the paua and cover the pot. Let the water come to the boil and simmer for three minutes. Drain immediately and slice the paua into thin strips.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy frying pan. Add the garlic, chilli, and spring onions, and cook for a minute or two. Add the paua and stir-fry for two more minutes.

Transfer to a serving dish, then squeeze over some fresh lime juice and scatter over the coriander. Serve immediately.

WILD WEED PESTO

Makes about ½ cup

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: nil

My mother-in-law reckons the only way to get rid of oxalis is to move house. Failing that, you can eat it. Digging up oxalis bulbs is as infuriating as gardening gets, but chopping off the leaves does slow its progress through the garden. And eating oxalis – mixed with other weeds, like chickweed, cleavers, and going-to-seed parsley – is very satisfying. This makes just the right amount of pesto to toss through that bag of pasta you found at the back of the pantry.

2 cups wild greens – use a mix of oxalis, chickweed, parsley, cleavers, rocket, spinach, sorrel – whatever you can find
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
¼ cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons New Zealand extra virgin olive oil

Finely grated zest of a lemon

Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and whiz until a thick paste forms. Taste for seasoning – add a little more oil, or a squeeze of lemon juice – and scrape into a jar. Cover the top with a little more oil and store in the fridge.

For more of Lucy's recipes, visit kitchen-maid.blogspot.co.nz

 - Stuff

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