Although there is something comforting about the hearty, squashy veg available through the Winter I can’t help get a bit excited when Spring comes around. It suddenly feels like everything around you is growing and there is an abundance of British fruit and veg in the shops making it easier and more enjoyable to eat seasonably.
In May we are really spoilt for choice with produce. Top of my list at this time of year has to be asparagus which I’d happily eat with every meal (pee issue aside) but there are also a number of other big favourites of mine that are at their best at this time of year including crab, jersey royals and some great spring herbs.
Starting with the protein you can’t really ignore lamb at this time of year, whether or not that thought has you picturing them gambolling happily in the fields or slow roasted and tender on your plate…. I’m not a huge lamb fan I have to say, partly because it’s such an expensive meat when you’re feeding a family, but a slow roasted shank is something a bit special and that I choose when eating out. If you’re fancying making something yourself at home, this is a great starting point.
Equally some simple lamb chops can be a great midweek meal and with so many herbs coming into season in the UK it’s a good time to serve them up with a salsa verde, one of my favourite accompaniments and something that is so quick and easy to make but which packs a real punch. See below for a quick and easy recipe from Felicity Cloake.
Talking of sides, now is also a good time of year for samphire if you fancy something that is a bit of a break from the norm. This sea vegetable has a distinctive salty taste which reminds you off summer days hunting for crabs and eating sandy sandwiches on the beach. It, unsurprisingly, goes really well with fish and in pretty much any scenario where you might also consider asparagus.
Still on protein it’s crab that really catches my eye at this time of year. Granted, it’s also not the cheapest ingredient when cooking for families but it is truly delicious. If I could choose any way to eat crab it would be simply with some crusty bread and butter and a bit of lemon but my kids are less keen on that. However, stick it in some crab cakes and they’re wolfing them down. Last time I waited until they’d finished before telling them it was crab but this time around I think they’d be quite happy to knowingly tuck in.
There are a lot of crab cakes recipes out there that use Thai flavours but again, I prefer something a bit simpler that showcases the crab itself and this is a good place to start.
Another ideal place to use crab, and one in which you actually need relatively little as it goes a long way, is in some simple pasta recipes. Again, if you’re using pasta it’s a good way to get the kids to tuck in (especially if they love tuna pasta like mine) and it’s also a fab midweek meal as it’s so quick to knock together if you’re using cooked crab. Check out this one and see if you can read it without your mouth watering… (another from Felicity Cloake).
And so onto the veg, the main event in May in my humble opinion. I think I’ve already eaten enough asparagus to keep the British farmers going for another year and we also had the opportunity to see it growing – amazing stuff – when we visited Switzerland. This was something that really captured the kids’ imaginations and they were much more inclined to give it a go having seen it poking through the ground like this.
So far I’ve mostly eaten it blanched for a minute or two and then cooked in butter which is about as good as it gets. It goes with pretty much everything for dinner and it’s also a good lunch with a poached egg and some more crusty bread. I did want, however, to give a quick mention to one of my favourite asparagus recipes (and the picture remains the profile picture on our Facebook page) because it’s so ridiculously delicious and great if you’re having people over as part of a buffet or a veggie option if you’re doing a barbecue.
Or you could combine it with some crab with this beauty. (I’ve just realised I sound a bit like Jamie Oliver now).
And if that wasn’t enough to make you hungry it’s also Jersey Royal season. I couldn’t love these little beauties more, they have such an amazing distinctive taste and especially the early ones. My eldest is not so keen on potatoes (madness) but I persuaded him the other day that Jerseys are a bit different so he should give them a try and when he did he was totally sold. There’s no recipe here, just boil, add butter and drool. Perfection.
And last but not least, the fruit. It’s actually rhubarb that is at its best in May but I can’t resist writing about the British strawberries that are starting to appear. My eldest also recently discovered the joys of meringue while we were in Switzerland so I’ve now made them for him a couple of times using the recipe below. With a dollop of really thick cream and some good old British strawberries we’re just about ready for Wimbledon.