Spring Seasonal Produce Update
Queen Vic Market Ambassador, Karen Martini shares her knowledge on the finest spring produce and what to look out for during your next Market shop.
As the soil warms and the days start to get longer, we will see considerable change to the produce appearing on our Market shelves with new life bursting out of the ground with an array of snappy green vegetables.
The first asparagus with tight points, in small bundles, are best simply cooked and served with butter or hollandaise. Look out for morels, a pointy honeycomb textured tender mushroom that all chefs love, but with an agonisingly short season. Sauté in butter and serve with steak or fish or in fresh pasta or risotto with tiny leaves of rainbow chard.
Spring is all about tender, delicate shoots gently dressed. Snow peas, tiny new lettuces with tender hearts and peas are sweet and bountiful.
Spinach is great in salads, as well as cooked or pureed with oil and other soft herbs to make a flavour packed green dressing for meats, fish or potato. Try it over some blanched tender green beans.
Avocados are wonderful now and broad beans are perfect even in their pods, with butter and pepper after blanching or try either with some fresh ricotta and great extra virgin oil.
Artichokes are at their absolute best. Always choose those with thick fat stems as they have a delicate, tender under-developed choke. Pare the leaves and stem, shave them raw, very thinly and dress with extra virgin oil, pepper, salt and lemon juice then serve on a steak or a carpaccio of beef or tuna. Or toss through with finely shaved fennel. There is an awesome cross over of these two vegetables right at the start of the season. Topple the mix on top of fresh ricotta and grate some parmesan over.
Baby zucchini, carrots and turnips start to appear.
Parsley and tarragon, coriander and chives, lemony sorrel and flowering herbs are great in salads. Make tabouleh or add lots of herbs like mint and chervil to a green leaved salad, in scrambled eggs or to fresh style spring cheese such as curds, ricotta and specialty mozzarellas.
Sheep, goats and cows are all grazing on abundant new pasture and it’s the best time for these fresh milk products. Likewise, spring lamb is at is best.
Cold winter waters see mackerel, sardines, red mullet, snapper, blue eye and leather jacket all with good fat content and pure, rich flavours. Steaming or pan frying are great options, but I have missed the smell of food over coals. It’s time to light the bbq and get outside to cook. Try whole fish in a wire or skewer smaller fish or pieces of blue eye.
A variety of berries will start to appear and then the first of the mangoes from up North. They will have a deep colour and rich flavoured flesh.
Rhubarb is still good, lemons are bright and full of juice and tangelos are superb sliced in a savoury style salad with shaved fennel or green beans.
Enjoy your spring shopping and cooking.