It’s so easy to walk into the major supermarkets and buy anything you want at any time of year nowadays, but it never tastes as good as the product locally grown at their true harvest time.
I am not going to rant about reducing our carbon footprint or about supporting our local farmers (as I think if it means anything to you, you won’t need to be preached at) But it’s also about getting the most flavoursome product at the right time of year.
Interestingly I heard that strawberries are unusually good for this time of year due to our hot weather we have been having – we normally focus on strawberries in June. So my focus for May is Asparagus, rhubarb, spinach and rocket and peas.
Eaten young – in the French style steamed with Hollandaise, or served as part of light Summer meals such as Tagliatelle with Asparagus & Gorgonzola or Steamed Salmon with Asparagus. Asparagus are also great grilled or used in soups but personally I think that’s a bit of a waste – I just want it steamed so you can taste the Asparagus.
Rhubarb is one of the first plants to be harvested, around April / May. Apparently the first rhubarb harvest is harvested by candlelight in the North, Leeds, Westfield and Morley a bit of trivia I recently discovered. I only really thought of rhubarb as rhubarb and custard – shows my age, but there are many ways to use rhubarb including rhubarb compote and Rhubarb and Lemon Bundt cake
Peas are tender and delicate in early summer. To retain their nutrition and deliciously sweet crunch, eat them as fresh as possible and never overcook.
Fresh peas are such a treat compared to frozen ones, so whether you are making mushy peas to go with fish and chips, a healthy and delicious summer pea and watercress risotto or refreshing Summer Pea and Mint soup pop those pea’s out of their pods.
Spinach has a high nutritional value and is extremely rich in antioxidants and iron, especially when fresh, steamed, or quickly boiled. I like to use spinach in salads – I love the Indian use of spinach – Saag aloo and a quick tip is that if you buy a bag of spinach for sag aloo – freeze it and keep it till you want to cook it.
Rocket is a peppery salad leaf and popular in salad, It is also used to complement fish and meat , generally used raw or tossed into salad and works really well with Pizza. It has been around in Britain for over 300 years and grows really well in our climate. Its great as a garnish to add to risottos, or serve with parmesan, avocados or prawns.