A perfect spring time starter which still feels like comfort food. Try Philippa Davis' warm pigeon breast salad and spring onions, with hazelnut and orange sauce

Light enough for the new season but still comforting when the temperatures drop, Philippa Davis’ warm pigeon breast salad is the perfect spring time starter. Or divvy it up into bite-sized portions for supper party canapés.

For something a little heartier, try pigeon pie. Or our warm pigeon salad with bitter leaves is versatile and delicious.

WARM PIGEON BREAST SALAD AND SPRING ONIONS, WITH HAZELNUT AND ORANGE SAUCE

Full of colour, this works as a delicious starter or you can chop up the components to make bite-sized portions for flavourful canapés.

Serves 2

  • 6 spring onions, washed, root chopped off and green top lightly trimmed
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pigeon breasts
  • Splash of white wine
  • 1 tbsp butter

Hazelnut Sauce

  • 75 shelled hazelnuts
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Juice and zest 1 orange

To serve

  • Handful of green salad leaves
  • 2 slices of freshly toasted baguette

To make the sauce, in a frying pan, gently toast the hazelnuts for a couple of minutes, shaking regularly.

When lightly golden, add the oil and garlic, cook for 30 seconds then add the tomato, thyme and paprika and cook for another couple of minutes. Finally, add the vinegars and orange juice/zest and cook for 2 minutes.

Transfer to a food processor and season, then pulse a few times so it’s smoother but still has some crunch. If very thick, loosen with a splash of orange juice or water. Check the seasoning.

Blanch the spring onions in a pan of boiling salted water for two minutes then drain.

In a frying pan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil; on one side place the spring onions and on the other the breasts. Season everything with salt and pepper.

Fry the breasts and spring onions on both sides for a couple of minutes then add the wine and butter and give the pan a shake. Leave to rest for one minute then slice the breasts in half.

To serve, layer the toasted baguette, salad leaves, spring onions and sauce on a plate then top with the pigeon and pan juices.