Revisit Merlin's festival-themed recipes
Sample Merlin's signature dishes from the comfort of your own kitchen
A Wild Garden Banquet was served up by Merlin Labron-Johnson at the 2019 Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival.
The Michelin-star chef turned food, often found by foraging, into fabulous and healthy meals. His five-course menu, available throughout the show at the Wild Garden, was inspired by nature and includes plants like sorrel, flowering nettles and wild garlic.
Relive the excitement of the show by trying one of Merlin’s exclusive Hampton recipes at home.
Photography: Mónica R. Goya
Taco of wild leaves, sheep’s milk cheese, sunflower seed praline and wild flowers
6 large wild leaves (jack by the hedge/sorrel/Nasturtium/amaranth)
60g sunflower seed praline
2 marigold flowers
3 nasturtium flowers
3 mustard/rapeseed/turnip/broccoli flowers
Rapeseed oil, to drizzle
Place a teaspoonful of ricotta in the middle of the leaf and a slightly smaller quantity of praline next to it. Top with wild flowers, a drop of rapeseed oil and a pinch of salt. Serve.
Sunflower seed praline:
500g caster sugar
250g sunflower seeds, toasted in the oven until golden
50ml rapeseed oil
Melt the sugar in a large saucepan and let it cook slowly until it turns a light caramel colour. Once the caramel is ready and still hot, add the seeds and mix well. Put immediately onto a tray lined with baking parchment and spread out. Leave to cool and harden. Once hard, place in a food processor and blitz with the oil, adding small amounts of water until you have a smooth-ish texture, roughly the same consistency as peanut butter. Season generously with sea salt and set aside. This recipe makes more than you need for six people. Try having it on porridge or toast for breakfast.
Confit lamb shoulder, heritage courgettes and nasturtiums
1 small lamb shoulder, boned and tightly rolled, seasoned inside out with salt, pepper, garlic and chopped rosemary
100ml lamb stock
3 onions, roughly chopped
3 green courgettes, chopped
3 courgettes, halved
1 glass of white wine
150ml olive oil
1 shallot, finely diced
1 handful mint, finely chopped
75g toasted flaked almonds
15ml white wine vinegar
Handful nasturtium leaves
Handful nasturtium flowers
Preheat the oven to 90 degrees. Place a large casserole over a high heat and add a good glug of olive oil. sear the lamb shoulder on all sides until golden brown. Add the stock, water and onions and cover with a lid. Cook at 90 degrees for 10 hours.
Heat a generous glug of oil in a large saucepan. Add the chopped courgettes and sweat gently in until very soft but without colour. Add the wine and reduce. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and blanch the spinach for one minute. Cool the cooked spinach down in iced water. Using a blender, blend the cooked, chopped courgette with the spinach to create a smooth, green puree. Season with salt and a little olive oil.
Heat a large griddle pan or frying pan. Brush the halved courgettes with oil and place in the pan, flesh side down and grill until nicely charred. Keep warm.
Put the 150 ml olive oil and diced shallots in a pan and cook gently until shallots are softened. Add the mint, vinegar, and toasted almonds. Season with salt and set aside.
Carve the lamb and serve with the courgette puree, grilled courgettes and almond dressing. Scatter over the nasturtiums and eat while warm.
Lightly-cured trout, yoghurt, peach and watercress
300g thick trout fillet, pin boned and skinned
100g yoghurt, smoked and seasoned with salt
2 peaches, firm
1 bunch of watercress
Extra virgin olive oil
Zest the lemon and mix with salt and sugar. Rub this into the char fillet and leave to cure for 12 hours. After 12 hours, give the fish a quick rinse to remove the lemon and pat dry with a cloth.
Cut into slices roughly the thickness of a £1 coin and divide between six plates. Add a few blobs of yoghurt to each plate. Slice the peaches as thinly as possible and add to the plates. Dress the water cress lightly with a little lemon juice and olive oil and add to the plate. Finish with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil.