Although the season is very short, British asparagus is well worth the wait for its unbeatable flavour and freshness. Asparagus can be lightly steamed or boiled to bring out the fragrant flavour, which can be enjoyed simply covered in butter or dipped in Hollandaise sauce. Or for something a bit more special why not try Griddled Scallops with Asparagus, Crème Fraiche and Sweet Chilli Sauce, or for an Oriental twist try Pan Fried Duck Breast with Asparagus and Toasted Sesame Soy Dressing.
In the UK, wild garlic has many peculiar identities – ‘bear’s garlic’, ‘devil’s garlic’, ‘gypsy’s onions’ and ‘stinking Jenny’ are just some of them. It’s no surprise that this seasonal ingredient is called so many names – it gives off an incredibly pungent smell in the wild. Unlike common cultivated garlic, it’s the leaves that are eaten rather than the bulbs. The taste is more delicate too, similar to the flavour of chives. Wild garlic can be stirred into risottos or omelettes, added to soups or used in sauces to accompany meat and fish.
When it comes to a salad leaf that is truly good for you, look no further than watercress. Bursting with vitamins and minerals, this peppery little leaf is one of our natural superfoods – and tastes great too. Pile it into sandwiches, toss into salads, use it to make a wonderful watercress soup or watercress sauce, wilt into pastas or stir fries, it’s incredibly versatile – but don’t just leave it to languish on the side of the plate as a garnish.
Delicious roasted with spices like cumin and coriander and served with a good sprinkling of sea salt and a squeeze of lemon or try making a lighter cauliflower cheese by parboiling and then roasting cauliflower florets on a buttered roasting tray with a sprinkling of Parmesan. The cauliflower stalks make great Crudités.
This peppery leaf is also known as arugula. It’s a dark green salad vegetable, popular in Mediterranean countries. The leaves have a slightly bitter, peppery flavour and are gathered when they’re young. Rocket makes a delicious addition to salads but can also be used to make soups and to replace basil in pesto. A bed of rocket is a good base on which to serve grilled poultry or fish.
Morels are wild mushrooms found all over the British Isles. This distinctive mushroom has a pitted honeycomb-like fruit body and is hollow inside. It can only be found in the wild and is highly prized. Morels can be stewed, added to omelettes or eggs en cocotte, or chopped up and used in sauces to serve with steak. Or simply fry them in butter or olive oil and serve on toast. They are often used dried (but never raw) and are excellent in all mushroom dishes and as additions to stews and casseroles. They’re particularly good with chicken and are considered among the best mushrooms, along with ceps and chanterelles.
Spring Onions, Spring Green Cabbage, Kale, Jersey Royals New Potatoes, Leeks, Radish, Spinach and Celeriac are still very much in season.
Also fabulous at the moment are Pea Flowers, Violas and Borage Flowers, Heirloom Tomatoes, Apples, Pears and Rhubarb.