There are signs of Spring everywhere you look. The flowers have started to pop out of the ground, the days are lighter and milder and there are even some folks dressed in shorts!
Spring symbolises new life and awakening after a long Winter’s sleep. We’ve been savouring over slow-cooked stews, hearty roasts and rich puddings, but as the new season of produce awaits us full of colour we are inspired to eat lighter dishes.
Eating seasonally may be an easier way to make sure we are getting our recommended amount of fruit and veg a day. Seasonal foods are generally cheaper and easier to find in greengrocers and farmers markets. Many celebrity chefs also offer recipe suggestions on how to use seasonal produce at its best.
As we draw back our curtains to let in the Spring sunshine, we are reminded that our bodies need different amounts of nutrition in this coming season than it did in the colder months. Many Spring foods contain high amounts of vitamins C and K as well as fibre. This suggests that these foods are cleansing the systems within our bodies which have been reliant on the sustaining, warming, but heavy and rich, meals of winter.
Fruit & Vegetables
Fresh, quick cook vegetables are available once the warmth of the sun penetrates the earth. Spring vegetables need little cooking as they are ultimate body detoxers.
New potatoes are a sign of Spring. Also known as early or baby potatoes, new potatoes are a sunny weather staple. Heavy potato sides such as roast or mash potatoes are left behind in Winter, and boiled and steamed new potatoes are the basis of many side dishes.
New potatoes have a sweeter flavour than their bigger counterparts because the sugar has not turned to starch. New potatoes are an excellent source of fibre, potassium and vitamin C.
There’s a debate whether this plant is a vegetable or a fruit. It is the stalk of a perennial herb but it is used mostly in sweet dishes.
Forced rhubarb, which is a slightly sweeter variety, and field-grown rhubarb is available from April.
Rhubarb is fantastic stewed and used to accompany anything from custard to pork loin. It is a great source of fibre and vitamins C and K and can help to improve digestion.
Asparagus has a relatively short season so its a veg to make the most out of while its around. Asparagus is a super-veg packed full of folate, fibre, vitamins, including A, C, E and K as well as antioxidants such as glutathione which helps our bodies break down detrimental free radicals in the body. This is perhaps why asparagus is revered as a vegetable that can help slow down the signs of ageing.
Spring onions are a light, flavoursome veg to add to many Spring dishes and replace the overpowering taste of bigger onions. Mix with new potatoes, add to a stir fry and enjoy in salads.
Spring onions are a good source of copper and phosphorus and, similar to other spring vegs, abundant in vitamins C and K.
Cauliflower, the less flamboyant cousin of broccoli, is a vegetable to not overlook during the Spring. Cauliflower recipes have undergone an extreme makeover shooting the cauliflower to the spotlight. Recent exposure such as the cauliflower steak, cauliflower rice and classics such as cauliflower cheese have kept this veg in the hearts of many.
Not only is this indispensable veg perfect for any meal and flavour, but it is also full of vitamins and antioxidants including sulforaphane which is found in most cruciferous vegetables. Scientific evidence suggests that this compound has anticancer and antimicrobial properties.
Meat & Fish
Eating seasonally helps to maintain stock levels in the ocean and is our way of stopping overfishing. Instead of haddock come Spring, swap for pollack. Instead of scallops opt for prawns. Herrings and trout are available most of the year but Spring is the best time to start enjoying these delicious fish as they are best lightly cooked.
Although meat is available all year round, Spring is the best time to eat a little less and eat leaner cuts than we would’ve eaten during the winter. Look for terms such as loin or round and ask your butcher for leaner cuts.
Make the Most of the Winter Produce
The last of winter foods are available now. Think orchard fruit such as apples, pears and plums and hardy root vegetables such as parsnips and turnips. Also, game meat is coming to the end of the season although venison and rabbit are available till the beginning of April.
From the sea, enjoy shellfish such as clams, oysters, scallops and mussels as well as fish like Dover sole, haddock and lemon sole till the end of March.
Greet the New Season
It’s sad to say goodbye to our winter warmer favourites but we can look forward to warmer, sunnier days and enjoy some fresh seasonal foods from local producers. Share with us your favourite Spring foods and dishes.