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Oxney Organic x River Cottage: Valentine’s food and wine pairing

River Cottage x Oxney Organic Valentine's Day food pairing recipe

We’ve got together with our friends at River Cottage to create a gastro treat to delight your loved one with on Valentine’s Day.

Flowers and chocolates are one thing. But nothing really gets Valentine’s hearts a-fluttering like a romantic meal, lovingly cooked by your own fair hand. Add in a perfectly chosen bottle of wine and no heart can fail to be unlocked.

Luckily for you, we’ve put our heads together with River Cottage‘s Culinary Director Gelf Anderson to create a simple, delicious and beautifully sustainable food and wine pairing for Valentine’s Day. The Oxney contribution is our organic, lean and toasty River Cottage Sparkling NV wine (made in the uber-trendy col fondo style), while Gelf has conjured up a made-to-match fish recipe for the occasion.

Here’s Gelf to explain what makes this such a great pairing:

“Hake remains one of the most sustainable fish available and is one of my favourites. In this dish, its beautiful buttery flesh matches perfectly with the heat of harissa and the nuttiness of cauliflower. The River Cottage Sparkling wine is a perfect pairing for this recipe, the wine cuts through the deep flavours of the dish allowing each mouthful to be a renewed pleasure.”

You can buy your bottle of River Cottage Sparkling NV from our online shop. Now, without further ado, here’s the recipe.


Hake, with merguez cauliflower, chard & harissa mayonnaise


1 small cauliflower, broken into florets

1 preserved lemon, finely diced

2 tablespoons of good quality or home-made merguez spice (see recipe below)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

100g of good quality bought or home-made mayonnaise

1 tsp harissa

2 x 150g portions of line caught Cornish hake

1 knob of butter

100g chard/spinach picked and washed

½ a lemon

Sea salt and pepper

For the merguez spice

10g coriander seeds

10g caraway seeds

10g cumin seeds

10g fennel seeds

10g paprika

A couple of pinches of cayenne pepper (add as much as your spice tolerance will take!!)



To make the spice mix:

Toast all the seeds in a hot oven until they release their flavours, bash lightly in a pestle and mortar, then mix with the rest of the spices. This is a great spice for veg, meat and fish, so well worth making a batch and keeping in the cupboard for every occasion. Reserve 2 tbsp for this recipe and add the rest to a clean jar.

To prepare the dish:

Pre-heat an oven to 180°c.

Place the cauliflower florets on a baking tray and coat well in olive oil. Sprinkle on the merguez spice mix and preserved lemon and thoroughly rub into the cauliflower, followed by a generous seasoning with sea salt and pepper. Place in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes or until the florets just start to soften (do not let them overcook and get mushy!). Remove and set aside.

Mix the mayonnaise with the harissa and put to one side.

Take a heavy-based frying pan, big enough to fit the fish with room to spare, and heat until it starts to smoke. Season the hake with sea salt, add a little light oil to the pan and then add the hake, skin side down. Place a little pressure on top of the fish to keep the skin in contact with the pan.

Once the skin has crisped, turn over, add the butter, remove from the heat and set aside for 3-4 minutes (the residual heat in the pan will complete the cooking).

Lightly wilt the spinach or chard in a little oil in a pan on the stove top.

To serve, place the cauliflower and chard or spinach on to the plate, with the fish on top. Pour over any remaining baking-tray oil/butter from the fish and add a good dollop of harissa mayonnaise. Finish with a squeeze of lemon to for a final beautiful citrus hit.

Happy Valentine’s Day from all at Oxney and River Cottage. We hope this heavenly food and wine pairing hits the spot!