Spring is the beautiful season between Winter and Summer, out with the old and in with the new. Spring represents rebirth and regrowth and is the most colourful of the four seasons. Spring is also the season where some of our most beloved ingredients are at their best so it’s the perfect season to cook fresh food and really bring out some wonderful flavours.
In my mind the ingredient that really shows off Spring is asparagus. If you see asparagus on the vegetable stand it’s a sure sign that Spring is here. Asparagus is delicate and fresh and perfectly celebrates everything that is Spring. It is mostly available all year round but is at its best between February and June. When picking your asparagus you should always look for bunches with tight closed tips and with no flowering, the stalks should also be bright green in colour.
Recipes including asparagus should be kept simple; anything too fancy and you’ll overpower the delicate flavour of it. Chicken is also in season during Spring so it’s the best time to buy eggs – they’re guaranteed to be as fresh as they come. That’s why we’d recommend making Asparagus with Poached Egg & Shaved Parmesan. A superior blend of delicate fresh asparagus, rich perfectly cooked poached egg and finished with the sharp nutmeg-y parmesan is the perfect Saturday lunch. The best way to cook asparagus is to steam it, this way you are guaranteed to keep the taste and freshness, here’s the recipe:
- Small bunch of asparagus (4 – 5 stalks), peeled and trimmed
- 4 large eggs
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 25g fresh Parmesan, shaved
- Fresh sea salt & crushed black pepper
The cooking times and seasoning are key to this dish. My top tips would be to ensure you don’t cook the asparagus for any longer than 6 minutes, don’t use vinegar with the poached eggs instead stir the water vigorously before dropping in the egg. Lastly, season the asparagus with fresh cracked pepper and the egg with sea salt. Asparagus is also fantastic with pancetta and most kinds of cheese, something like an asparagus and gruyere cheese puff-pastry tart would be lovely and seasonal. It’s all about bringing out the simple flavours of the season.
Spring is also the perfect sea son for food festivals. Mostly good weather and the reinvigoration of produce get people exciting and raring to show what they can do with all the fresh ingredients. Brighton is known for having a fantastic Spring food festival, the Brighton & Hove Spring Harvest Food and Drink Festival is on from the 30th March to the 9th April and brings together local producers, growers, restaurants and bars all enthusiastic about presenting the best of Spring. If you’re in the mood for a bit of Spring flavour why don’t you buy train tickets to this event and get yourself some real life Spring cooking tips.
Rhubarb is another vegetable perfectly ripe in Spring, peaking between April and June. It is often associated with pies and is known for being a very tart vegetable if not cooked properly, which sometimes puts people off. When choosing fresh rhubarb you should look for thin, crisp stalks, nothing floppy. Sticking to the simplicity of Spring, the only way I can represent rhubarb is in a simple Rhubarb Pie, here’s what you’ll need:
- Ready-made short-crust pie dish (it’s all about simplicity, remember)
- All-purpose flour, for dusting
- 700g rhubarb, trimmed ends, cut into small chunks
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 2 tbsp corn flour
- Pinch of salt
The great thing about a rhubarb pie is that it tastes best a couple of days after you make it, the rhubarbs suck in all the surrounding juices and fuses with the natural sugars. You can make a simple crumble topping for the pie to give it a bit of an edge. Serve it with homemade custard, thick cream or vanilla ice cream if it’s a beautiful, dry Spring afternoon.
Here’s a lovely slideshow of other Spring ingredients to get you in the mood, get cooking!
What are your favourite Spring ingredients? Let us know in the comment section below.