In Season – April
Serve up freshly-picked, locally-grown veg!
Asparagus: the sight of these little green spears is a sign that spring is truly here. They need warm weather to grow so keep an eye on the temperature for an indication as to when they’ll appear at the market. Last year’s warm spell meant Over Farm Market’s asparagus was ready in March, but as yet, 2015’s crop looks set to be slightly later but pay a visit to The Garlic Farm stall for the first of this season’s spears. Asparagus is ridiculously quick to cook and will partner anything from Parma ham and smoked salmon to hollandaise sauce and quiche. However, simple is often best – nothing more than some melted butter, a squirt of lemon and seasoning is all that’s needed.
Try this: for a creative canapé, griddle a few asparagus spears with a smattering of seasoning and lemon juice. Chop into short lengths, arrange onto a kebab stick and wrap in a slice of Parma ham. Griddle or grill until the ham is slightly crisp.
Purple Sprouting Broccoli: one of our earliest new-season crops, purple sprouting broccoli makes a refreshing change from the usual variety. Slightly more ragged looking than its calabrese cousin, and with more leaves, it adds a pleasing vibrancy and crunch to dishes while its purple tinge gives added interest to your plate. Try it lightly steamed or gently stir-fried in any recipes where you would use normal broccoli.
Try this: make a tasty side dish by parboiling a handful of trimmed florets. Meanwhile fry five cloves of chopped garlic in a mixture of groundnut oil and sesame oil. Add the florets and stir until coated. Serve sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.
Rhubarb: there’s not a lot can beat a traditional rhubarb crumble and custard but rhubarb’s new-found popularity means it’s creeping into a lot more foods these days. Refreshingly tart, rhubarb loves being partnered with vanilla or ground almonds and is delicious in sweet dishes such as rhubarb ice cream, rhubarb jam or rhubarb cookies. It’s also great with savoury dishes – just reduce it down with a little sugar and water and serve alongside fish or pork.
Try this: create a quick rhubarb jam by frying chopped rhubarb with a little butter, vanilla and icing sugar. Cook over a low heat until tender. Take a couple of brioche, sprinkle with icing sugar and grill lightly. Spoon the rhubarb butter on top and serve with cream.
Leeks: a perennial favourite, leeks are coming to the end of their growing season but are always handy to have in your fridge. They can be used at this time of the year to transform heavier dishes into lighter spring versions – think spring risottos made with leeks, peas and crumbled feta or a leek and asparagus tart for a taste of milder months. Like garlic and onion, leeks are a member of the allium family, but impart a more subtle flavour which means they are also ideal as the base for soups.
Try this: create a citrusy leek gratin by steaming a panful of leeks until tender. Arrange in an ovenproof dish and pour over a cheese sauce. Scatter with breadcrumbs, thyme leaves and a squirt of lemon juice, then bake in the oven until toasty.
You can buy fresh seasonal produce this autumn from the following stalls every Saturday:
Coleshill Organic Farm, Croft Farm, Duncan Paget & Co, Over Farm Market, Newark Farm, Hotch Potch Organic and Days Cottage.