BBC Good Food Magazine
Deputy food editor Esther Clark shares recipes using seasonal produce, while Emma Crawforth of BBC Gardeners’ World offers advice on growing radishes
Recipes to make the most of this month’s produce
April sees the start of spring with longer, warmer days that require lighter dishes. Asparagus is the vegetable that, to me, marks the beginning of spring. I like it steamed and dipped in melted butter or dressed in lemon juice and good extra virgin olive oil. It works well simply with a good, succulent roast chicken. I’ve done a recipe for a riff on just that but with all the flavours of a classic caesar salad (opposite) – crunchy croutons, a rich and creamy dressing and shaved parmesan – this dish is easy and simple enough to still let the asparagus shine. Look for the chunkier, seasonal bunches of asparagus as apposed to its spindly sister variety. It has a good bite to it and needs no more than 2-3 mins of cooking – any longer and it will lose its fantastic texture and fresh flavour.
Another vegetable that is characterised by its refreshing crunch is the seasonal radish.
With a clean flavour and punchy peppery tones, radishes work well with sharp citrus flavours such as lemon and lime or lightly pickled in vinegar and eaten with spicy noodles. I’ve added mine to a simple ceviche of raw trout and lime juice (p93). The thinly sliced radish adds a welcome bit of bite to contrast with the soft fish. Look out for British trout.
At this time of year, I also love to use bunches of punchy watercress as an alternative to herbs. Watercress has a rich, earthy kick and works beautifully whizzed with nuts and parmesan to make pesto, or with potatoes and crème fraîche in a soup. I’ve whizzed mine to a coarse purée and stirred it through a risotto with soft goat’s cheese and hazelnuts (p92). If you don’t want to cook watercress, another fine way to enjoy it is simply dressed in olive oil, vinegar and mustard, served with a rare steak.