I often like taking dessert to Ottolenghi club, and this month I had a special request from our host to make a recipe that had recently appeared in Ottolenghi's Guardian column. It's the kind of recipe that calls for an open mind as much as a sweet tooth, featuring a green sorbet of apple, celery, parsley, basil and tarragon. This herbal curiosity is supported by a more traditionally sweet base of meringue and crème fraîche.
The sorbet needs a really good blender to puree all that green produce, and I trialled and rejected our food processor and stick blender before finally blending the mixture in our spice grinder attachment in 3 small batches. (Thanks for washing up, Michael.) Even then I can recommend a thorough straining to really get this down to a velvetty, verdant scoop - imagine how off-putting it would be to find a stray celery string in your sweets. A hefty 300g of glucose syrup keeps the sorbet soft, sweet and scoopable.
Ottolenghi's recipe includes baking your own meringues, but I really couldn't be bothered. I just stacked up some supermarket ones with the crème fraîche, confident that this green sorbet would take all of the attention. It sure did! A small serve proved refreshing and unexpected, with just enough richness to satisfy.
Meringue nests with green herb sorbet
(adapted slightly from a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe on The Guardian)
300g glucose syrup
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup water
3 royal gala apples
3 long or 5 stubby celery stems
1/2 cup parsley
1/4 cup tarragon, plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup basil, plus extra for garnish
8 meringue nests
200g crème fraîche
2 teaspoons dill, to garnish
In a small-medium bowl, whisk together the glucose syrup, lemon juice and water. Pour it all into a large blender.
Peel, core and roughly chop the apples; blend them into the glucose mixture. Trim and roughly chop the celery stems; blend them into the glucose mixture. Roughly chop the parsley, tarragon and basil; blend them into the glucose mixture. Continue blending very thoroughly, until the sorbet mixture is as smooth as possible. Strain the sorbet mixture through a fine sieve, pressing through as much juice as possible and discarding the pulp. Churn the sorbet in an ice-cream maker and freezer in an airtight container for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
When it's time to serve, place a meringue nest in a serving dish for each person. Spoon a tablespoon of creme fraiche into each nest. Gently place a scoop of the green sorbet atop each nest. Lightly scatter the dishes with tarragon, basil and dill leaves. Serve immediately.