Along with an exclusive interview with Petersham Nurseries’ managing director Lara Boglione, charting the company’s evolution from modest plant nursery into acclaimed destinations for plants, delicious food and homeware, discover two delicious seasonal recipes from the company’s debut book

The debut book from one of London’s most beautiful destinations for food, plants and homeware, founders Francesco and Gael Boglione chart Petersham Nurseries’ unique story, starting from its humble beginnings as a simple plant nursery. There are also seasonal, provenance-led recipes, indoor and outdoor styling tips and personal narratives from the Boglione family.

Here, managing director Lara Boglione shares her thoughts on the growth of the company, what’s coming up this spring and what it’s like working con la famiglia.

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Petersham Nurseries has grown so much over the last 20 years. What has been the most significant change, in your opinion?

The opening of Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden in 2018 was a particularly significant moment for us and the business. After 13 years, the brand had grown and developed to the point it felt like the right time to take the next step and bring some of the spirit of what we had created in Richmond to central London. I’m very proud of what we have built there with our two restaurants, The Petersham and La Goccia, and the deli. We were also incredibly grateful to be awarded a Green Michelin star last year, which recognised our efforts and commitment to sustainability, which has always been central to our ethos since day one. In recent years, we have continued to employ new techniques to reduce our waste, and everything from what our chef jackets are made of, to using cling film has been rethought in an eco-friendly way to minimise our impact on the planet. Another important moment was of course the launch of our book last year, which we’d been working on as a family for years and acts to tell the story of Petersham Nurseries.

What’s it like working together as a family? Are there ever any challenges involved?

We are a very close family and we each bring our own interests and specialties to the business. My parents are so good at picking up on the finer details, building an individual aesthetic and creating the overall feel of our spaces. My youngest sister, Ruby, has been part of the buying team and Harry, my brother, supplies as much produce as possible from his farm in Devon. We have wine from my husband’s family estates in Italy. Giovanni has put together our wine offering with our team at Petersham Cellar. Anna, my sister, has a company called The Gut, which shares our values and we partner with her on many events. While there can often be disagreements, like with any family, we’ve essentially all got the same principles and ethics at heart, which lead our decisions.
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What can visitors to Petersham Nurseries expect to find during springtime?

Springtime is my favourite time of year at the nurseries – everything is beginning to blossom, the garden shop is full of promise and the days are getting longer again. Tulips are coming into their own so the cutting garden becomes full of them, in many different shades. It’s also the best time to be in the restaurant with amazing produce like wild garlic and nettles.

Any exciting plans for Petersham Nurseries coming up this year?

We are really excited to announce the launch of La Goccia Bar, our brand new cocktail bar in Covent Garden, opening next month. We’ve also got a series of workshops which are ongoing that will be changing seasonally, including pasta workshops, floristry masterclasses and wine dinners. There is also a lot of planning currently going on for the year ahead so watch this space.
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Spring salad with Haye Farm egg, asparagus, broad beans and radishes

The simplest of spring salads – and all the more delicious for it. This is a light starter, so if you fancy something a little more substantial, increase the quantities. Use the freshest eggs you can find and cook until the yolk is just set.

Serves 6

Ingredients 

  • 6 large eggs
  • 18 asparagus spears
  • 150 raw young broad beans, podded
  • 120 radishes, finely sliced
  • A handful of edible flowers or salad leaves
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt & black pepper

Method

  1. Place the eggs in a pan of boiling water. Once the water is back at a rolling boil, cook for six minutes, then refresh the eggs in ice-cold water. Once cool, peel and set aside.
  2. Blanch the asparagus in boiling water for 2-3 minutes until just tender, and refresh in ice-cold water.
  3. Slice the eggs and half and season with the salt and black pepper, then carefully build the salad – either on one larger serving platter or on individual plates- by layering the ingredients. Finish with the edible flowers and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Try with:

Soave le Bine de Costiola, Tamellini

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Ravioli with Ricotta di Bufala and Young Nettles

Dismissed by many as a weed, nettles have a peppery, spinachy taste and are delicious in soups and stews – or with creamy cheeses, as in this light supper dish

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 500g ricotta di bufala (or cow’s milk ricotta if you can’t find it)
  • 500g young nettles
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt & black pepper

For the pasta dough:

  • 520g 00 flour
  • A big pinch of salt
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Semolina, for dusting

To serve:

  • 80g unsalted butter
  • A large handful of mixed marjoram and sage leaves
  • Parmesan, grated

Method

  1. First, hang the ricotta. Place it in a fine muslin cloth and either hang over a bowl or rest it in a sieve with a bowl underneath to catch the excess liquid. Leave to hang in the fridge overnight.
  2. To make the pasta dough, mix the flour and salt on a clean surface and make a deep well in the centre. Add the egg yolks, eggs and oil. Working quickly but gently, use your fingers to gradually combine. Bring together into a rough ball and knead for 10-15 minutes until you have a smooth, elastic dough – it will be hard work at first, but keep going anf it will come together. Alternatively, mix all the ingredients in a mixer with a dough hook. Wrap the dough and rest in the fridge,
  3. To make the filling, blanch the nettles in boiling water for two minutes. Drain and allow to cool, then squeeze out the excess liquid, making sue the nettles are really dry. Once dry, finely chop the nettles and mix with the ricotta and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg and chill in the fridge for one hour before making the ravioli.
  4. Cut the pasta dough into two pieces of around 300g each. Roll each one out to around 1cm thick, then feed through a pasta machine, gradually reducing the settings until you reach thickness level 1.5. Cut each sheet in half so you have four pieces.
  5. Dust the work surface with semolina, lay out a sheet of pasta and place heaps of filling (about 3/4 tablespoon each) along the pasta sheet about 3cm apart. Spray a little water on the pasta to help seal it and top with another sheet of pasta. Gradually push the air out of the pasta parcels and seal tightly.
  6. Cut with a ravioli cutter and store on a tray with plenty of semolina to prevent the pieces sticking to one another. Repeat with the rest of the pasta and filling – you should make around 36 pieces in total.
  7. To serve, cook the pasta in boiling salted water for two minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry marjoram and sage, then add the pasta along with a tablespoon of the cooking water to form an emulsion. Serve sprinkled with the Parmesan.

Read more in the Petersham Nurseries book, £65, petershamnurseries.com