What To Cook Using 5 Spring Ingredients

Now is the perfect time to enjoy an abundance of spring produce bursting with flavour. This month, says food writer and SL contributor Chloe Scott-Moncrieff, make a beeline for British watercress, crab and asparagus – among others. From what to look out for to simple recipe ideas, here’s how to make the most of some of these seasonal picks…
TRINETTE REED/STOCKSY UNITED

Growing in chalky brooks, watercress is best in the spring thanks to its tenderness. Equally, its nutritional credentials aren’t to be overlooked, as it’s packed with vitamins A and C, as well as iron and calcium. When shopping, look for either ‘Alresford’ or ‘Hampshire’ stamps on the packet. You’ll find the watercress season peaks from now until June, and then again in the autumn.

The Recipe: Zesty Watercress Pesto

Serves

2

Total Time

10 Minutes

Ingredients

85g of watercress, roughly a small packet
50g of finely grated parmesan or pecorino
50g of pine nuts
Zest of 1 lemon
½ a garlic clove
Olive oil

Method

Step 1

Blitz the watercress with the parmesan or pecorino in a food processor.

Step 2

Scatter in the pine nuts, the lemon zest and half a garlic clove.

Step 3

To ensure the pesto is a creamy texture, add a good glug of olive oil and some water, if necessary.

Step 4

Blitz again until nearly smooth. Taste. Season accordingly.
NOEMI HAUSER/STOCKSY UNITED

Sustainable British trout caught by small producers often beats salmon at this time of year. Not only is it more flavourful, it’s also better for you. Thankfully, the season is long, kicking off from March and ending in the early autumn.

The Recipe: Trout, Mint & Dill Traybake

Serves

2

Total Time

50 Minutes

Ingredients

200g of new potatoes
2 x trout fillets
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Zest of ½ a lemon (optional)
A pinch of sumac (optional)
A mix of greens – beans, broccoli, asparagus, spinach
20g of mint or dill
½ a garlic clove
1 tbsp of capers
150ml of crème fraîche

Method

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 180°C-200°C.

Step 2

Cube the new potatoes and place in a baking tray. Drizzle with a little oil. Roast for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven. Season well with salt, pepper, lemon zest or a pinch of sumac if you wish.

Step 3

Add to the tray whichever greens you wish and return to the oven for 10 minutes, until everything is nearly cooked.

Step 4

For the final 10 minutes, carefully make space for 2 trout fillets. Season the fillets with a pinch of salt and black pepper. Bake again.

Step 5

Meanwhile, make the sauce by blitzing the mint or dill with the garlic, capers and crème fraîche. Pour over the tray for the final two minutes of cooking.

Step 6

Remove everything from the oven and serve.
HELEN RUSHBROOK/STOCKSY UNTED

British crabbing kicks off now and continues all the way through to October. Many chefs believe it should be considered a delicacy, given the meat from the Atlantic ocean is so superbly sweet.

The Recipe: Crab Stuffed Avocado

Serves

2

Total Time

20 Minutes

Ingredients

250g of crab meat
1 tbsp of mayonnaise
1 tsp of mustard or wasabi paste
A handful of chopped basil or coriander
Juice and zest of 1 lime
4 avocadoes
1 x 250g packet of Merchant Gourmet’s whole wheat giant couscous or Tilda periperi basmati rice
1 piece of ginger, finely chopped
A scattering of spring onions
A drizzle of soy sauce

Method

Step 1

Mix 250g crab meat with the mayo, mustard or wasabi paste, and plenty of freshly chopped basil or coriander and the lime’s juice and zest.

Step 2

Halve 4 avocados, removing the stones. Stuff the halves with the crab.

Step 3

Serve with couscous or rice, finely chopped ginger, a scattering of spring onions and a drizzle of soy sauce.
CAMERON WHITMAN/STOCKSY UNITED

From Thailand to India, mangos are seriously succulent right now – in fact, you’ll even find festivals around the world are dedicated to them come April. You’ll find seasonal varieties like the coveted Alphonso at M&S or Ocado – worth looking out for during the next two months.

The Recipe: Curried Chicken & Mango Salad

Serves

2

Total Time

30 Minutes

Ingredients

2 mangos
300g of cooked chicken
200ml of coconut milk
100g of Greek yoghurt
1 tsp of garam masala or curry powder
1 tsp of cumin seeds
1-2 tbsp of mango chutney
20g of coriander, finely chopped
2 x celery sticks, finely slices
1 shallot
2 x tortilla wraps

Method

Step 1

Peel the skin off the mangos and slice the flesh. Set aside.

Step 2

Shred the cooked chicken and place in a bowl. Mix it with the coconut milk, Greek yoghurt, garam masala or curry powder and cumin seeds. Stir in the mango chutney and, to finish, add some finely chopped fresh coriander.

Step 3

Stir in the celery sticks and shallot.

Step 4

Slice the tortilla wraps into strips. To finish, pour the curried chicken in a salad bowl, top with the tortilla strips, then the mango slices.

COOK’S TIP: You can also stir a packet of Tilda’s coconut basmati rice into the curried chicken for a heartier meal.

JAMES ROSS/STOCKSY UNITED

British asparagus has one of the shortest peaks of any seasonal ingredient; it’s only good for around for six to eight weeks, so enjoy it while you can. You’ll find the window officially closes around the summer solstice (21st June).

The Recipe: Asparagus Stir Fry

Serves

2

Total Time

15 Minutes

Ingredients

10-15 asparagus spears
2 tbsp of sesame seeds
2 tbsp of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp of ginger, finely chopped
150g of rice noodles
1-2 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp of ketjap manis

Method

Step 1

Slice the asparagus spears on a slant. Set aside. In a saucepan, toast the sesame seeds for a few minutes.

Step 2

Then, in a large frying pan, pan-fry the garlic and ginger for a few minutes. Throw in the asparagus. Stir fry on high heat for a further few minutes before mixing in the noodles.

Step 3

For the sauce, mix the soy sauce with the ketjap manis. Stir, taste and season if you want.

Feeling inspired? Other ingredients in-season at the time of year include…

 

  • Jersey Royals

  • St George’s mushrooms

  • Wild garlic

  • Morel mushrooms

  • Edible flowers 

  • Sorrel

  • Welsh lamb

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