Spring’s Amazing Ingredients

Both food and cooking can be slightly drab and grey during the early months of the year. When Spring finally arrives this time of the year yields some amazing ingredients. It’s that invigorating feeling of new ingredients immerging in their prime, ready for the pot or, in some cases, not requiring cooking at all. A time when we break away from the colder weather and finally see the blossom on the trees and the shoots emerging from the earth, a genuine sense of hope prevails…

April sees wild garlic fully flourish and come to an end, significantly this is the first true ‘new’ ingredient of the year, Easter is a joyous season for all things new. I suggest cooking with lots of varieties of eggs including wonderful pheasant and gulls eggs. Okay, eggs aren’t terribly seasonal but it just feels right! This is also the start of wild garlic, English rhubarb and young sprouting vegetables. Stay clear of Soles, including Lemon and Dover, both of which begin spawning during spring. Dutch and Spanish salad crop prices see a price hike so keep your purchasing English! Purple broccoli is very hard to beat in spring. Serve it as a simple starter with some anchovies and a light grating of parmesan. Wet garlic is around, and its subtle flavour makes great soups accompanied by spring greens, you can try roasting it whole and serving it with some ricotta and broad beans!

Of course don’t forget to get heavily involved in the short, first English asparagus, sometime in mid to late April, I can’t think of another English ingredient that tops this stem of greatness for diversity and quintessential appeal. Simply boiled for 3 minutes (and no more mind…), chargrilled with a sprinkling of rock salt or my favourite; a soft boiled duck egg whose arrival is clearly marked rather fittingly by Easter. This dipping into yellow soft warm goo resembles asparagus and hollandaise in a way, but with so much more sumptuousness.

Adam Byatt
Chef Consultant