TOafter a seemingly never-ending winter, spring finally starts on 20 March meaning brighter days, warmer weather – and new seasonal ingredients to enjoy.
If you’re looking for some food inspiration for the next few months, these are the spring ingredients chefs are most excited about, and how they’ll be cooking them…
“I love spring lamb – I look forward to making very delicate, aromatic lamb stews and kormas with lamb. Eggs as well – maybe because it’s Easter, and I’ve always associated [eggs] when I moved to this country with Easter. Eggs are so underrated. For us in Bengal, eggs were always a monsoon dish, because the bazaars were closed – you couldn’t get anything else, but eggs were still delivered to the house. I have omelettes, and for me, spring is always about eggs.”
‘Ammu: Indian Home-Cooking To Nourish Your Soul’ by Asma Khan is available now (Ebury Press, £26).
“I like to use artichokes and make a pickle out of it. I use a spice, five-spice – what we call panch phoron – that’s also a pickling spice. So temper with that and white wine, orange peel and some orange juice. And then we pickle and let them preserve for the whole day. Half-cooked and then preserved. That’s really, really nice – I like to use it with red meat like lamb – fantastic.”
‘Ayla: A Feast Of Nepali Dishes From Terai, Hills And The Himalayas’ by Santosh Shah is available now (DK, £20).
“I do love Jersey Royal. I always get so excited when they’re around, because it’s for such a short time. There’s actually a recipe in the book, which is really really simple but so delicious. You boil new potatoes whole, and then you crush them and roast them with loads of lemon, coriander and black olives. They go really gnarly and really delicious, and they’re so utterly addictive. As soon as those Jersey Royals are in, that is how I’ll be cooking them.”
‘Nistisima: The Secret To Delicious Vegan Cooking From The Mediterranean And Beyond’ by Georgina Hayden is available 31 March (Bloomsbury, £26).
“People might laugh, but I love cabbage. There are so many different ways of making cabbage – it’s not just cooking, but also fermenting them, cooking a sabji – a vegetable curry. My favorite thing to do is making momos [dumplings] with leafy cabbage. You’re using the same filling, but then wash the leafy cabbage, soak it in boiling hot water, put the filling in, and then steam them. I sometimes don’t eat carbs – if I’m not eating carbs, then I will eat it that way. I love it, and my daughters love it.
“If I’m making a mince – a lamb mince, or beef or pork – I’ll use hard cabbage, make it like a roll, then eat it. There are so many ways of doing it – my mum used to stuff parathas with it. She would shred the cabbage, put lots of spices and herbs and salt, then stuff the paratha and make a cabbage paratha.”
‘On The Himalayan Trail: Recipes And Stories From Kashmir To Ladakh’ by Romy Gill is available 14 April (Hardie Grant, £27).
“Definitely herbs. Wild garlic – not technically a herb, but a vegetable – is also very high up there. Most herbs start to flourish in spring, but wild garlic is incredible for so many things. I have a few go-to dishes with wild garlic, firstly a pesto (of course), and then using that pesto in some sort of risotto or a spelled, mushroom and pesto dish. It’s super as is, and keeping it raw when cooking is great. It looks more like a leaf, and chucking it into a pesto with all the other ingredients you’d usually use – it’s great. It’s best used quite quickly from purchasing or foraging, to really take advantage of its flavor and nutrients.”
‘The Whole Vegetable: Sustainable Recipes For A Healthier Planet’ by Sophie Gordon is available now (Michael Joseph, £25).
“I love purple sprouting broccoli, lightly steamed with an anchovy, basil and caper dressing.”
‘The Canny Cook’ by Phil Vickery is available now (Kyle Books, £16.99).
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.