Packing a punch: Skye Gyngell cooks with sage

A word to the wise: go easy on this spring herb or you risk losing the flavour of your other ingredients to its aromatic, punchy essence

Slightly musty, aromatic and most particular in taste, sage is a herb that needs to be used with care – one or two sprigs is generally more than enough. It grows most prolifically during the spring and summer months and there are several different varieties, including a beautiful variegated one and a deep purple variety. The verdant green, softer-leaved variety is my favourite at the moment.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, petershamnurseries.com

Monkfish with romesco and sage

You can substitute any robust fish here, but delicate fish such as trout or salmon would be lost under the punchy flavours.

Serves 4

800g/1¾lb monkfish
For the romesco sauce
50g/2oz shelled almonds
50g/2oz shelled hazelnuts
2 ripe tomatoes
1 large red chilli
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 small bunch of sage, leaves only
1 tsp sweet red paprika
1 tbsp good-quality red-wine vinegar
4 tbsp coarse fresh white breadcrumbs
120ml/4fl oz mild extra-virgin olive oil

For the romesco sauce, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Place the nuts on the baking tray and roast in the middle of the oven for 5-6 minutes until evenly golden. Tip the hot nuts into a clean, dry cloth and rub to remove the skins.

Now place the tomatoes and chilli on a baking tray and roast for about 10 minutes, turning halfway through cooking, until the tomatoes are slightly coloured and bursting from their skins, and the chilli is soft – it might take an extra minute or two.

Put the garlic, the sage leaves and a pinch of salt into a large mortar and crush with a pestle to a rough paste, then add the chilli and crush. Add the roasted nuts and pound until the paste is fairly smooth, but still retains some texture. Add the tomatoes and paprika and continue to pound but more gently now. Stir in the wine vinegar, breadcrumbs and finally the extra-virgin olive oil. Season to taste and set aside.

To cook the monkfish, heat one large or two smaller pans over a fairly high heat, season the fish well and add a little olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the fish and cook for 5 minutes before turning and cooking the underside. Serve with the romesco and maybe a simple mashed sweet potato.

Veal chop with Café de Paris butter

Café de Paris is what's known as a compound butter, which essentially means a butter that has various things added, whether it be as simple as red wine, or a couple of anchovies or even some crushed black olives.

This butter is somewhat more complicated, but still not difficult – don't be put off by its long list of ingredients. This will make about 250g/8oz of butter – if you don't need it all, it keeps well in the fridge for a week or so. k

Serves 4

For the butter

1 small bunch of tarragon, leaves only
1 small bunch of sage, leaves only
1 small bunch of chervil, leaves only
1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
tsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
tsp Tabasco
tbsp capers
1 clove of garlic
200g/7oz unsalted butter, softened
A small pinch of sea salt

Roughly chop all the herbs, then place in a food processor with all the other ingredients and blitz until smooth. Remove from the food processor and spoon on to parchment paper, roll into a sausage shape and store in the fridge until you are ready to use.

4 veal chops, free range and English
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp mild-tasting olive oil

Place a large, heavy-based pan on top of the stove over a very high heat – you may need two pans if the chops don't fit comfortably in one. Season the veal generously on both sides, add the olive oil to the pan then add the veal. Cook for 5 minutes on one side, then turn and cook for a further 4 minutes on the underside. Remove the butter from the fridge and spoon a generous dollop on top of each chop then set aside in a warm place to rest the meat and melt the butter for 5 minutes before serving.

Linguine with lemon and sage

This is a very delicate pasta dish, so it is important that you pay attention to the amount of lemon you add. Restraint is best, as the flavour of the lemon can easily overpower all the other ingredients, leaving a sharp and bitter taste. It is also important to use a good-quality pasta so the final dish is elegant.

Serves 4

800g/1¾lb linguine
A good pinch of sea salt
4 tbsp crème fraîche
16 sage leaves
The juice of a lemon
The zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
70g/3oz good Parmigiano-Reggiano
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place a large pot of water on to boil and add a good pinch of salt. Once the water has boiled, add the linguine and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce.

Pour the crème fraîche into a small saucepan and place over a fairly low heat. Add the sage leaves and cook for a minute or two until the crème fraîche has warmed through. Now add the lemon juice and zest, the Parmesan and season with salt and black pepper.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and spoon over the sauce, toss together well and serve on warm plates. Add a little extra Parmesan if you like, but in my mind, it doesn't really need it.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own