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Beltane In Season Ingredients and Recipe Ideas
Beltane marks the beginning of the culinary shift towards Summer abundance. The “hungry gap” is still being felt here in the UK, but there are some notable seasonal stars emerging that more than make up for the lack of variety in these weeks. Ingredients such as asparagus, peas and new potatoes offer a taste of the lighter flavours of the warmer seasons to come. Here’s a list of ingredients that are in season over this six week period from the start of May to mid-June, and some ideas for what to make with them!
Alliums: spring onions.
Brassicas: broccoli, purple sprouting broccoli.
Daisy family: lettuce and salad leaves.
Legumes: peas (May).
Mustards: radish, rocket, watercress.
Nightshades: new potatoes (May).
Umbellifers: carrots (May).
Urticaceae: wild nettles.
Actinidiaceae: kiwi fruit.
Herbs: basil, chervil (May), chives, coriander (May), dill, oregano (May), mint (May), nasturtium (May), parsley (curly) (May), sorrel, tarragon (May).
· Seemingly all of a sudden, Spring produce arrives with asparagus and new potatoes reigning supreme in the kitchen for a short but delicious period. Their highly seasonal nature makes them even more delicious for their short-lived appearance. Something about this period of time – the light, the temperature – means a flurry of horticultural activity before it is overtaken by the arrival of Summer produce. I find the best way to let these ingredients sing is to serve them simply. Asparagus lightly fried and finished with butter; new potatoes boiled and served with the best sea salt you can find.
· If you’re lucky, the very first Summer fruits might have arrived in time for the first al fresco meals of the year. It truly is a time of firsts! Technically, the season doesn’t start until June but with the magic of polytunnels I had my first Scottish strawberries from Seahills Farm in Arbroath this week via Farmshop Edinburgh. I baked a strawberry and rhubarb frangipane galette inspired by local favourite eatery Elliott’s and owner Jess’ fab book Lazy Baking. If your precious early berries need a little help getting the most out of their flavour, try macerating strawberries with a little elderflower cordial to give them a lift and add floral sweetness.
· Samphire is in season and brings unique savoury, salty notes to dishes. Blanched for the briefest of minutes it doesn’t need any help to enhance its flavour. Stir through pasta or serve alongside roast potatoes and marinated, fried halloumi for a fresh take on a Sunday roast. Try your local independent greengrocer or specialist shop to source some - I love Edinburgh Food Delivery for ingredients like this (and they deliver across the UK too).
· Herbs are plentiful in May; chop mint and basil roughly and toss with lemon juice and olive oil to dress a burrata salad with the first, freshly podded peas of the year - a simple supper. A pesto made from nasturtium leaves, toasted walnuts, lemon juice and olive oil is also delicious drizzled over homemade pizza if you’re lucky enough to have nasturtiums growing in the garden. Plus this Ottolenghi soup makes herbs the star of the show, tasting perfectly fresh and Springlike.
· Purple sprouting broccoli is one of my favourite Spring ingredients. I like to roast mine with flaked almonds and lemon zest as a delicious side. On the subject of broccoli, I love to use the whole vegetable to make no-waste soup: chop the entire vegetable, stem and leaves included, and roast with sea salt and chilli flakes. Blitz with coconut milk and a little lime juice for a deliciously light, Springy supper.