When the Boglione
family opened Petersham Nurseries two decades ago, it's safe to say no one could have foreseen this garden centre in the grounds of Petersham House in Richmond becoming a towering force in London's dining scene.
Photography by Andrew Montgomery
But with a raft of some of London's best chefs passing through the doors of the kitchen at its acclaimed café – which has held a Michelin star for much of the time it's been open – as well as a distinctive approach to cooking (quality British ingredients, many grown on-site, with an approach inspired by Mediterranean cuisine) saw it become one of the quintessential experiences in the city for those looking to reconnect with nature.
Now, a brand-new, 426-page book by founders Gael and Francesco Boglioni charts its two decades of history, with beautiful photographs, stories and – of course – recipes, too.
The ones featured here showcase the venue's deft touch, and commitment to dishes that are bang in season and big on flavour, even if they remain simple at their core.
Petersham Nurseries' broad bean bruschetta recipe
This elegant canapé uses the fresh spring flavours of mint and olives alongside rich pecorino to make a beautiful starter in super-quick time
Preparation time 15 mins
"Just-picked, freshly podded, raw baby broad beans are unlike anything you can buy in the shops," reads the description of this great starter, which can also be prepped as a beautiful canapé, or made bigger for a light lunch. "Here they are mixed with taggiasche olives, a Ligurian delicacy from the small town of Taggia."
In a pestle and mortar, pound the broad beans, mint leaves and a pinch of salt until crushed.
Fold in the pecorino, lemon zest and juice and olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cut the focaccia into small pieces and spread thickly with the topping.
Sprinkle with the olives and more pecorino before serving.
Petersham Nurseries' beef and beetroot carpaccio recipe
Made with tender beef fillet, vibrant heritage beetroot varieties and horseradish, this dish makes for a simple starter that goes big on flavour
Preparation time 10 mins
Cooking time 20 mins
This dish is pared-back but incredibly effective, with beautiful contrasting flavours and textures, and designed to showcase earthy beetroots when they're "small, soft-skinned and bursting with flavour."
360-480g beef fillet (ask your butcher for centre cut)
½ lemon 50ml creme fraiche
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh horseradish (approximately 10g)
Salt and black pepper
Wash and scrub the beetroot, then boil each variety in separate pans of salted water for around 15 minutes, or until tender. Cooking each variety separately means they will hold their colour.
Once cooked, peel and halve or quarter (depending on their size) and set aside.
Season the fillet of beef with salt and pepper and rub with olive oil. In a heavy-based very hot pan, sear quickly on each side and put to one side.
To assemble the dish, slice the beef very finely, then season with olive oil and lemon juice.
Scatter the beetroot over the top and season. Top with little dollops of creme fraiche and then, using a Microplane or fine grater, grate on as much or as little of the horseradish as you like.
Petersham Nurseries' romano peppers, beans and olives
With fresh white beans, tomatoes and olives, this tray-bake is all about great ingredients cooked with a light touch to preserve their character
Preparation time 15 mins
Cooking time 80 mins
Petersham Nurseries' Mediterranean influence comes across in full in this dish, a mix of beautiful spring and summer vegetables with just enough cooking to allow them to mix, with the umami of black olives and just a hint of heat. Perfect for a light dinner or an al fresco weekend lunch.
600g fresh cannellini beans, or other white beans, podded
100g cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
30 taggiasche olives
Salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Place the beans, tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves and thyme in a baking tray or dish and add cold water until the beans are just covered, along with a splash of olive oil.
Cover with the foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the beans are tender. Once the beans are cooked, season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, place the whole peppers, halved tomatoes, thyme, chilli flakes and olive oil in a tray, add a pinch of salt and place under a hot grill for 10-15 minutes, turning once, and then allow to rest for a further 10 minutes.
Add the olives to the beans. Spoon into a dish and lay the peppers and tomatoes on top, finishing with a sprinkle of oregano and edible flowers.