Spring is an excellent time of year to experiment with seasonal ingredients. It is also the time to start moving away from the winter's warm hearty meals and more towards lighter, more vibrant dishes. We’ve listed a few ingredients you have to try this spring, as well as some ideas on how best to use them. These dishes are perfect for getting you ready for the summer season.
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What are the best fruits available in spring?
Fruit is great to have around the house as a snack in itself. But its sweetness can also add dynamic and flavour to springtime dishes. These seasonal fruits will jazz up any spring favourite with zing and tanginess.
Gooseberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, providing nearly half of our recommended daily amount. You can eat berries even if they are slightly under-ripe when full of zesty, sharp flavours. These flavours make them the perfect addition to baked fish dishes. Baking a whole salmon trout or any fish of your choice with gooseberries, salt, pepper and chilli flakes will give the fish fresh Mediterranean flavours, perfect for spring.
Much like lemon juice, the juice of gooseberries will give a salad dressing a bit of zing freshen up a Greek salad served as a side dish. It's also a popular trend to make jam or curd out of gooseberries, thanks to their sour taste.
Kiwi fruit is typically added to smoothies and fruit salads as an unusual ingredient. They have a delicious, unique flavour and the small, edible seeds and interesting texture and crunch. But there are so many more ways to use kiwi to add a twist to dishes and make an excellent primary ingredient for springtime snacks and desserts.
Using kiwi fruit as a complimentary fruit to go with savoury dishes adds dynamic and flavour to the meal. Because kiwi is sweet with a slight tanginess to it, it's a great addition to a cheeseboard. It goes great with a strong stilton or gorgonzola.
Kiwi is an easy addition to lemon-based desserts and a delicious and attractive topper for lemon cheesecakes and lemon tarts. Simply slice them up and arrange them on top of the desert. Your dish will come to life when using this simple spring ingredient.
Another fun tip for kiwi fruit is cutting them into cubes and freezing them. Once frozen, you can add them to gin and tonics as the weather gets warmer. They add freshness and sweetness to the cocktail, plus add some intrigue for guests.
Apricots are a versatile fruit that can be used in Moroccan-style dishes, roasts, eaten on their own or used in delicious desserts. They have the perfect combination of sweet and tangy flavours, which are bound to brighten up your dishes over spring.
Apricots go best with paler meats such as pork or chicken. Roast ham and pork belly are great dishes to add apricot to as it sweetens the meat and makes the dish lighter by adding a slightly zingy bite. Similarly, apricots will transform hearty tagines into a springtime dinner favourite.
As apricot is a fruit, you know it will be a showstopper of a main ingredient for dessert. Replace Bramley apples with apricots for a decadent apricot crumble. Serve this with custard or cream for a truly delectable sweet.
Dried apricots are also great to have around the house as a snack with mixed nuts. You can also chop them up to put in a green salad as a side dish for your spring dining experience.
Getting the best out of seasonal spring vegetables
Spring is the perfect season for fresh greens. You may think that these veggies are only good for side dishes, but they’re great bases for mains too! Check out these inspiring ideas for more on how to use seasonal veg.
Globe artichokes are not the typical vegetable we think about when talking veg. It's different and delicious, so you'll be making dishes that will brighten up your dinner table and stir up conversation.
Perhaps one of the best picnic essentials is charred artichokes preserved in lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. There are several ways you can make this yourself. Like anything worth having, it's a bit of work to get to the heart of the artichoke, but worth the effort in the end!
Once you’ve mastered the art of getting to the artichoke heart, there are infinite recipes you have to try with this fantastic ingredient. Because of its meaty texture, you can treat artichokes like meat and combine them with other veggies for main courses and salads. A risotto with artichoke, red onion and rosemary is a super healthy midweek dinner.
Healthy and yummy, asparagus comes into season in the spring and is an excellent ingredient for an array of dishes. Asparagus is best when its slightly undercooked, giving a bit of crunch to your meal.
Quinoa with asparagus, toasted flaked almonds, and lemon juice is the perfect lunchtime dish for the spring. It's super healthy and light, keeping you going for the rest of the day.
Asparagus’ unique flavour is an excellent pairing with fish dishes, especially those rich in flavours such as salmon or tuna. An asparagus and salmon quiche is a great way to feed several dinner guests, and it's really tasty.
Spring onions are the perfect topper for almost any dish. Pasta, mash potato, salads and even Asian inspired noodle dishes come to life with even the slightest hint of spring onion. Although you may think about spring onions as a garnish, there are many dishes that put the spotlight on them.
This spring ingredient goes well with shellfish such as crab and prawns. Making your own dumplings is a fun activity for the whole family. Try to make dumplings with a prawn and spring onion stuffing. Serve these with a bit of soy sauce, and voila, you’ve got a homemade Asian take away.
Another top tip is to make spring onion butter. The most uncomplicated slice of toast will become a decadent appetiser with a good dollop of this beauty on top.
Another suggestion came from Jess from Vegan Punks, who told Age Times: "Spring is a great time for foraging wild garlic, just be sure to pick it before it flowers and stay away from the edge of public paths, to ensure freshness. I love to make wild garlic pesto when I pick wild garlic. It goes great with pasta, on pizza and even served as a dip or on top of hummus."
As you can see, spring is the season to get experimental in the kitchen. The seasonal fruits and veg available will challenge you to think outside the box and will allow you to add some fantastic dishes to your repertoire.