in-season asparagus

It is May and we are starting with a Bank Holiday in the UK. We also end May with a Bank Holiday – what a month.

As spring starts to move towards summer and the weather improves (we live in hope!) seasonal fruit and vegetables start to repay the efforts made in the colder months. It needs a little more sun and warmth to be its best.

Whatever May brings enjoy the burgeoning fruit and vegetables the spring has brought. The roundup of seasonal May produce is below.

Seasonal Fruit

Seasonal fruit is coming in this month. We have

  • Apricots – perfect just the way they are or make jam if you have lots
  • Elderflowers – pick these and make a really simple elderflower cordial
  • Nectarines – fabulous and juicy, slice in half and grill for a warm salad with spinach and rocket
  • Raspberries – always good with chocolate – Chocolate, Hazelnut and Raspberry Torte anyone?
  • Rhubarb: outdoor – I used to eat this straight from the ground dipped in sugar but if you don’t want to do that wonderful in with roasted apricot and Roasted Rhubarb with Crumble Topping

Seasonal Herbs

Herbs seasonality also brings more choice. Crispy fried sage is wonderful with gluten free pasta. Available herbs this month include

  • Bay – fabulous with any long cooked dish such as casseroles or roasts.
  • Borage – with a taste similar to cucumber it is great in salads, soups and with gluten free pasta. The flower is sweet and can be used to decorate desserts
  • Chervil – looks like a tiny version of flat leaf parsley with a mild, sweet, aniseed flavour. Wonderful in delicate salads
  • Chives – delicate herbs with a strong flavour great garnish that actually adds flavour and depth to spinach and potato soup
  • Lovage – the leaves and stem add an intense celery-like flavour to soups and stews Fabulous with potatoes. Widely used in Netherlands, Germany and Romania
  • Parsley: curly, flat – a robust herb that works so well with walnuts
  • Rosemary – the smell of fresh rosemary is instantly relaxing. Wonderful with roast potatoes
  • Sage – whole sage leaves fried until crisp top and complete any gnocchi dish or Baked Mushrooms With Crispy Sage
  • Savory: summer, winter – great with beans, the flavour reduces the longer it is cooked. Summer savory is sweeter and more delicate and widely used across Bulgaria and Romania
  • Thyme: common, lemon – pungent wonderful flavour. Amazing with roast potatoes, baked with nectarines and added to a warm salad

Seasonal Vegetables

Vegetables are starting to pop up. Look out for the wonderful Jersey royal potatoes with a unique flavour that is the taste of early summer. Available May seasonal vegetables (and they will vary according to region) include

  • Asparagus: green/ red – keep it simple and grill or fry with olive oil and sea salt until just cooked and sprinkle with lemon juice
  • Aubergine – bake whole to make baba ghanoush, fry slices and bake in a gluten free, vegan lasagne or just wonderful in ratatouille
  • Cauliflower – so versatile, raw, steamed, riced or roasted
  • Celeriac – fabulous roasted and made in to a silky soup
  • Chard
  • Chilli – I love chillies, they can be used in everything (dependent upon the heat and flavour) from guacamole to Ma Po Tofu to Chilli Sin Carne and all the other amazing uses in between
  • Cress: mustard/ mixed – always available, what more do you need to top off a salad
  • Cucumber – hello cucumber, nothing better than in season cucumber with the seeds removed and sliced with sesame, soy sauce an toasted sesame seeds
  • Edible flowers – lots available from borage to nasturtium a striking addition to any salad, the tastes are amazing
  • Horseradish – the ultimate kick to any dish. Horseradish aioli would be an amazing dressing for any salad
  • Lettuce: curly, lambs, round – one of the fundamental salad ingredients, keep it simple with a light dressing, enjoy the in season flavours
  • Mushrooms: button / cup /flat (cultivated), enoki (Cultivated), morel (wild), oyster (cultivated), pied bleu (cultivated), shitake (cultivated) – lots of different types with different flavours, bring out the earthy, nutty flavours in a risotto, Lentil and Mushroom Soup, or a simple stir fry
  • Peppers: capsicum – versatile and available in several colours each with a subtly different flavour. Fabulous in a robust salad, as a key ingredient in ratatouille, in tofu with green peppers and black bean sauce
  • Potatoes – early: Jersey royals, maris bard, pentland javelin – new potatoes are perfect with their waxy integrity for potato salads with a light dressing, mint and salt
  • Radishes – the mustardy heat of home grown radishes is wonderful, a simple salad is a perfect showcase
  • Rocket – growing like Billy-O at the moment, mustard hot, avocado and rocket salad is wonderful
  • Shallots – little bulbs of flavour, sautĂ©ed shallots form the foundations for lots of dishes, try roasting whole for soup
  • Spinach – deep greens with a light metallic tinge, perfect in salads, great in bakes