March and April: the joy of spring
The first produce of spring is here! The vibrant green leaves of watercress and spinach and the melt in the mouth sweetness of tiny new potatoes always inspire me to eat more healthily. As the days grow longer and warmer, I move away from the heavier food of winter and add more salads and lighter dishes to my meals.
Weekday suppers will often be big, crispy salads with a base of rich green leaves; peppery watercress, bitter spinach and sweet early salad leaves. They are so quick and easy to put together, and the joy of these leaves is that the rich flavours can stand up well to stronger meats and fish and sauces, and make blander grains and bases more interesting. At this time of year I often make hot salads, adding sizzling bacon, steaming and buttery new potatoes or roasted sardines to the crispy leaves. Add the hot ingredients last minute and eat straight away so the leaves don’t wilt.
Add a few unusual ingredients to your cupboard such as pomegranate molasses or fresh wasabi to give dishes an interesting twist, and make sure you invest in the best quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar you can. It makes such a difference when making salad dressings and you only need a small amount of each so they are a worthwhile spend!
March and April in the UK are known to throw us plenty of cooler, wet and windy days too. Cauliflower and celeriac, which are both still very much in season, are great bases for a warming curry or sides for a roast when winter reminds us she hasn’t quite disappeared (British lamb is at its best right now too). Kale and spring greens also make wonderful accompaniments; try tossing with a little garlic and chilli as a side, or just enjoy lightly steamed to make the most of their freshness. And don’t forget the first of the purple sprouting broccoli, so much more interesting than its overused cousin!
Rhubarb is in peak season in March. Its tart pink stems look beautiful and taste delicious. Whizz into fools or add to pies and crumbles, or if you fancy something a little different as a pre-dinner drink, infuse in vodka to make an amazing cocktail base.
In season: Rhubarb, New Potatoes, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Kale, Early salad leaves, Spinach, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Watercress