Guest Post: Pignut’s Garden Recipe

Photograph by Mollie Rose Photography

Tom and Laurissa opened Restaurant Pignut in Helmsley in 2023. After working at the now-closed Rattle Owl in York, they wanted to have their own place. I sampled their tasting menu in their very early days, and finding out that they were new to the Helmsley area, invited them to the Helmsley Walled Garden to show them around. Our Kitchen Garden has really flourished this last year under Robin’s care. Our volunteers and staff take some of the harvest, and the rest is sold by donation from the kiosk – but we still have an abundance of delicious, seasonal, and often, unusual ingredients.
So, we offered the Pignut team the option of taking some of our pickings for their restaurant menu. Each week in the summer and autumnal months, either Tom or Laurissa arrive with a basket, and perhaps a dog or two, to pick a bit of what is on offer that week.
The finished dishes always looks absolutely scrumptious. We thought it was about time to ask Tom and Laurissa a bit more about their ethos and what they’re hoping to achieve from their restaurant. Tom has also kindly contributed a lovely simple soup recipe, using wild garlic, which will soon be widely available to forage for. If you haven’t already visited their now nearly one year old restaurant, we’d urge you to go.

Please make sure you forage sustainably and responsibly, staying safe and within the law. The Woodlands Trust provides some guidelines here.

Mollie Rose Photography

At Pignut, we like to focus on what and who is around us. We do a lot of foraging whilst on our daily dog walks which keeps our menu seasonal. At the moment, there’s plenty of wild garlic starting to come through which we will use in our recipe.
We use many local suppliers local to our restaurant, Castle Howard for beef and pork, Herb Fed for our chicken, Newfields for our organic vegetables, and Helmsley Walled Garden for our herbs, fruit and vegetables. We like to keep things local, which was the way things used to be in the past. Especially for a market town like Helmsley which will have relied heavily on local produce being transported through. Flavour wise, using fresh, seasonal ingredients from nearby is so much more rewarding, and this really comes through in our menu.
Another reason why this is so important to us, is that we wanted to create a restaurant, where not everything points towards the chef. We want our place to be somewhere that people can come and eat food from the surrounding area. And ask questions about who, where and why we use them. We want our menu to show who these suppliers are and how much work they put into what they do and that is shown by how tasty their produce is. Currently we are foraging for lots of wild garlic, hedge garlic which has a mustardy garlic flavour, cleavers or sticky buds which are great for garnish and salads as they have a pea like taste to them. Gorse is a favourite of ours, both pretty and tasty, and can either have a pea flavour or coconut flavour depending on which side of the bush you gathered them from. Pignuts will start showing soon too with their almost carrot top like appearance, and three cornered leeks will start to come though.

This recipe is a very simple but delicious wild garlic leek and potato soup using both local and foraged ingredients.

Leek and wild garlic soup
1 large potato
1 medium leek
50g butter
50g chopped young wild garlic
20g three cornered leek stems chopped
100ml whole milk
250ml water

First peel and thinly slice the potatoes and start cooking on a low heat in a saucepan with the butter and a pinch of salt.
Once the potatoes are soft and nearly mushy, add in the thinly sliced leeks and cook out until soft. (This should take about 5 minutes.)
Add the milk, water and a pinch of salt and cover with a lid until it comes to a boil.
When the pan boils, add the chopped garlic and three cornered leeks and cook for about 30 seconds and then transfer to a blender.
Blend on a high speed for about 2 minutes or until smooth.

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