Finally, the weather is warming up after a chilly spring, and with the sunshine comes the first of the summer produce. Spring greens are still aplenty, but added to these is a whole host of new vegetables. Asparagus season is in full swing, the delicate tips wonderful simply steamed and dipped in a little melted butter, and the stalks added to stir fries or risottos or made into soup.
It is the start of the season for beans and peas. Runner, green, French, snap, sweet and garden… the varieties are endless, as are their uses. Most can be eaten raw in salads, or lightly steam to retain as many nutrients as possible. Whizz into pesto or sauces and add to pasta and rice dishes along with cheeses or mint.
Aubergine, radishes and tomatoes add some welcome colour to the plate. Tomatoes have to be one of the most versatile fruits around and if you have a little outside space (a balcony will do), they are very easy and satisfying to grow. Nothing beats the delicious sweetness of a cherry tomato eaten straight from the plant! All of these are also wonderful roasted, yes, even radishes! Cook them slowly at a low heat with a good drizzle of olive oil to really bring out the sweetness.
Come June and berries fill the farmers’ markets. The rainbow of reds and purples glowing like rubies in the sunlight; their juices staining fingers and lips. I have great memories of picking strawberries at the local pick-your-own farm as a child; the little cardboard baskets filling to the brim with the fragrant berries, but the odd one sneaked into my mouth along the way! Plums and greengages are also ripening. If you have too many, poach them then freeze for later in the year.
In season vegetables: Asparagus, Aubergine, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Courgettes, Cucumber, Green Beans, Runner Beans, New Potatoes, Lettuce and Salad Leaves, Peas/ snap peas, Radishes, Sorrel, Spinach, Spring Greens, Spring Onion, Tomatoes, Watercress