10 seasonal spring ingredients and how to cook them
Spring is a great time of year to get into the kitchen as the change of season brings a wave of new produce to liven up mealtimes.
It’s not just that seasonal British produce tastes better: it’s great for bringing variety into your diet, it tends to be more cost-effective as in season food is usually cheaper, and it’s much better for the environment as the food doesn’t need to be transported across vast distances from countries far and wide.
Like to give it a try? Here are 10 great seasonal ingredients and recipe suggestions to try this spring:
Leeks are a really versatile vegetable that can hold their own against rich sauces or add a fresh bite to dishes. Recipes such as leek, thyme and mascarpone tart and fresh leeks with a tarragon vinaigrette show just how flexible this vegetable can be, acting as the central ingredient or a side dish. March and April are the best times to buy.
Colourful, tart and ever so British, rhubarb is commonly mistaken as a fruit but it is actually a vegetable. April is the time when outdoor-grown rhubarb – much larger and more intense than the forced variety seen in winter – hits its peak. While it's great for a classic crumble or tart, these long stalks can be used for much more, including rich chutneys and sassy salads. Try these recipes to get the best out of fresh rhubarb.
You can buy lamb almost all year round, but there’s something incredibly special about spring lamb. It offers a delicate, unique flavour and lovely, tender meat. For a simple but delicious foray into cooking with lamb, try this "one tray” boulangère recipe.
April and May are prime months for early crabs, lobsters and shrimps, so if you're a fan of seafood it’s the perfect moment to foray into cooking with some fresh produce. This crab and chilli pasta recipe is quick, easy and super tasty.
This fish and chip staple is often seen as a winter fish, but you can get a “spring run” as the species migrates north towards Scandinavia for the colder waters. Perfect for those still-chilly March evenings, this Mediterranean cod and roast vegetable tray bake from M&S is washing-up friendly, healthy and tasty.
May is prime time for asparagus, a vibrant green vegetable that is really versatile to cook with. While it makes a very tasty side dish when griddled or barbecued, it can also add a fresh edge in salads or stir fries, and hold its own with pastas and risottos. You can find out more about M&S growers and see a selection of recipes here.
Delicious Jersey Royal new potatoes are available from the end of March, but they really spring into season in May. As the name suggests, Jersey Royals are grown on the island of Jersey in the English Channel, where some farmers even use the local seaweed as a natural fertiliser for their crops. These are more than your average spud, lending themselves to being a central ingredient or served alongside dishes like grilled salmon. Try a Jersey Royal, smoked mackerel, beetroot and horseradish bake or these saffron-baked Jersey Royals for inspiration.
While it's perfectly fine picking up smoked salmon any time of the year, March and April are some of the best times to enjoy fresh cuts. Salmon is a strong fish that can hold all sorts of flavours, from bold spices to zesty lemon. These za'atar salmon and courgette skewers from M&S are a great option, or for something more traditional, try this salmon and Cornish new potato tart or salmon and potato parcels.
It’s not widely known, but spring onions are just really small onions that are harvested while they are young. Spring onions aren’t usually the main focus of a dish but go brilliantly if you want to spruce up a salad or add a fresh bite to a stir-fry. For a great starter or main, try this crab, spring onion and chilli linguine dish.
Deep green, full of vitamins and iron rich, spinach is a brilliant vegetable to introduce into your diet. It is available all year round, but its peak season starts in March and ends in June. It’s easy to add this leaf into salads or wilt it down for a side dish, but you could also try letting spinach take centre stage with this recipe for a spinach and mushroom roulade.
Seasonal eating makes sense for all sorts of reasons, and the springtime recipes above are just a taster of what you could try. So, start filling your fridge with the best locally grown, seasonal ingredients and enjoy tastier, healthier food.