IT'S hard to imagine any kitchen without fresh herbs these days. The flavours, the aromas, the colours and textures they can bring to a dish never cease to amaze me. I've spent a couple of days organising the hotel herb garden this week with my sous chef, Adrian and green fingered, Canadian Bob. The soil is so fertile and early spring is undoubtedly the best time to plant before the intense heat of substitute the basil with sage, coriander, parsley or rocket leaves. We have just planted a few more obscure, almost forgotten herbs in our garden like savoury, lovage, woodruff, hyssop, borage and rue alongside are old standing summer. Obviously, nothing can beat freshly picked herbs as they do start to deteriorate very quickly once they've been picked. I love the sturdy Mediterranean herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme, marjoram and oregano crushed in a pestle and mortar with a good handful of course salt to season meat and fish. the best way to cook a leg or shoulder of lamb is to make small incisions in the skin and rub it well with this intensely flavoured salt before roasting in a moderate oven over a couple of garlic bulbs. it fills the kitchen with an unbelievable, mouth–watering aroma and tastes fantastic. Basil is one of my favourite herbs and when made into a pesto with pine nuts and garlic cloves it gives a real kick to all pasta dishes and grilled meats. You can favourites such as parsley, chervil, tarragon, mint and lemon balm. Here are a couple of recipes that will be featured on our ”simply fosh” terrace menu featuring some of the herbs that green–fingered Bob will be looking after.

4 fillets of milk–fed veal (150g each)
For the Salsa Verde:
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp. Capers
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. Sherry vinegar
150ml olive oil a bunch of parsley a bunch of basil
For the polenta:
1500 ml chicken stock
225 g polenta
200 g grated parmesan cheese
For the sauce:
600 ml milk
150 g sun–dried tomatoes
1tspn. tomato paste
250 ml olive oil
For the “Salsa Verde”:
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend to a puree.
For the polenta:
Bring 1 litre of the chicken stock to the boil in a heavy–bottomed saucepan. Mix the polenta with the rest of the chicken stock to dissolve. Add this mixture to the boiling chicken stock and cook gently for 10 minutes until thick and smooth. Add the grated parmesan and season to taste.

For the sauce:
Place the milk, sun–dried tomatoes and tomato puree in a saucepan and cook gently for 10–15 minutes without boiling.
Pass through a fine sieve and, using a hand–held blender, whisk in the olive oil slowly to emulsify the sauce.
To serve:
Pan fry the veal fillets in a little olive oil for 1–2 minutes on each side until well coloured. Roast them in a hot oven for a further 3–4 minutes to finish cooking.

Place a large spoonful of polenta in the middle of 4 plates and sit the veal fillets on top, place a spoonful of “Salsa Verde” over the meat and finish with the light sun–dried tomato sauce.

ROCKET LEAVES (serves 4)
750g piece of middle cut tuna
150g sugar
150g coarse sea salt
250g olive oil
2tbsp. Chopped garlic cloves
4 bunches of rocket leaves
Juice of half a lemon pesto
Potatoes: 24 new potatoes (boiled and skinned)
80–100ml pesto
100g fresh basil leaves
30g fresh parsley
25g pine nuts (lightly toasted)
2 garlic cloves (peeled)
350ml olive oil
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend to a thick puree.
For the tuna:
Combine the salt and sugar and mix well.
To prepare the tuna, lay a sheet of cling film on a chopping board and cover with a layer of salt and sugar. Place the whole tuna fillet on top and cover with more salt and sugar. Wrap tightly in several layers of cling film and store in the fridge for at least 6 hours, maximum 8.

Remove from the cling film and wash the tuna fillet in cold water to remove all the salt. Cut into four even sized portions. Place in a plastic container and cover with olive oil, chopped parsley, garlic and lemon juice. Marinate for at least 2 hours.

To serve:
Mix a couple of spoonfuls of pesto with the new potatoes and place a mound of pesto potatoes in the middle of each plate, then place some rocket leaves on top.

Slice the tuna into 3 and place over the rocket leaves. Drizzle with a spoonful of the olive oil marinade and serve.


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