This new take on last year’s series #EatTheSeasons, where we took a single seasonal ingredient and examined its health benefits and novel ways to cook with it, looks at the whole season in food and farming. This year, instead of a monthly post, I will create more diverse posts once every three months or so, to celebrate the specific delights of each time of the year and we’re starting here with Spring.
The recent (rather over-dramatic) ‘crisis’ of poor weather in Spain which left our shops deplete of courgettes, lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes, was a bit of a wake-up call for many of us. Rather than be concerned about it, I think we have been given the wonderful opportunity to re-focus on the bountiful, seasonal, British produce available. It’s this local abundance of Spring that makes it my favourite time of the year.
As I write this, I can hear the birds singing their hearts out outside my window and vibrant green buds are forming on the magnificent Magnolia tree which is ready to burst into its blousy display of pink any day now. Spring bulbs in bright yellow, purple, blue, white and pink are offering a more than welcome respite from the greys and browns of the winter months. Close by, the lambing season is well underway in the green fields. It’s a picture that is repeated up and down the country.
With all this sap rising and the literal ‘spring’ of life and energy, I get a craving for new flavours in the kitchen. I yearn for lighter, brighter, more zingy dishes that dance on my taste-buds and leave me feeling alive. Yes, there may still be the odd evening when I hunker down with a big warming bowl of soup or stew, but in the main, I need less comfort from my food as the sun gets brighter and the days get longer.”
In the garden, spinach, asparagus, purple-sprouting broccoli, spring onions, leeks and kale are all on top form. Rhubarb, especially the pale forced varieties, is starting to make its way into my kitchen, and I find myself picking up a bag of watercress or organic, muddy new potatoes whenever I see one! After all the roots, squashes and hardy greens of the past few months, these stronger flavoured ingredients are an absolute joy.
Here are six new recipe ideas for you to try whilst embracing the new season. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
Slow Cooked Leg of Lamb with Creamy Cannellini Beans
Watercress, Pea & Asparagus Herb Spring Tart
Egg with Veg Soldiers
Spring Garden Salad with Hazelnut Pesto
Rhubarb & Custard Tart
Photo credit: Emma Godwin