This is a pretty and fun dish that you can serve without cutlery, as the vegetable and quail egg garnishes can be drawn through the potato aioli with your fingers and popped into the mouth. Or you can, of course, make life simple and lay the table with cutlery.

Ingredients

The dish can be assembled on individual plates or on one large flat serving dish, though in the case of the latter you need to be sure that it is being served to guests who are happy to share, which is not everyone’s cup of tea.

Think of this dish as a vehicle for the very best and freshest vegetables of the season and expand on the ingredient list accordingly. Baby carrots, pea pods and tiny courgettes are some of the other seasonal treats that I occasionally add to this dish.

Serves 6

  • 3 medium potatoes (about 375g) 
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed to a paste 
  • 2 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives 
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Dressing 

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

To serve 

  • 12 quail eggs or 3 hen’s eggs 
  • 18 radishes 
  • 18 cherry tomatoes
  • 6 small spring onions 
  • 2 avocados, halved, stoned, peeled and each cut into 9 wedges (optional) 
  • 18 fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 teaspoon roasted and ground cumin seeds

Method

  1. Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, which should take about 30 minutes. Depending on the variety of potato being used it may be necessary, as in the case of a floury Golden Wonder or Kerr’s Pink, to strain off some of the cooking water during the cooking and to finish cooking the potatoes in just a few centimetres of water. When the potatoes are cooked, strain and save at least 5 tablespoons of the cooking water. 
  2. Peel the cooked potatoes immediately and pass through a vegetable mouli or a potato ricer to achieve a soft mash. Add the reserved cooking water along with the garlic, mayonnaise , parsley and chives and mix well. Taste and correct the seasoning. This part of the recipe can be made early on. 
  3. Carefully lower the quail eggs into a saucepan of boiling salted water and cook for 6 minutes. Drain and allow to cool, then peel and cut each one in half. 
  4. To make the dressing, mix the oil, lemon juice and seasoning together. Taste and correct the seasoning.
  5. To assemble the dish, spread 1 tablespoon of the potato aioli in a circle on each plate. Divide the halved quail eggs, radishes, tomatoes, spring onions and avocado pieces between the plates, all sitting up proud as punch, and scatter on some coriander leaves. (If I have a few tiny carrots or courgettes, I will also add those and omit the avocado.) Finish each plate with a drizzle of the well-mixed dressing and a good pinch of the ground cumin.