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Spring The Changes With Seasonal Ingredients

A selection of spring vegetables

As the temperature finally starts to rise, the days get longer and we see more sunshine, it’s definitely time for a reboot in the kitchen.

All those big, hearty dishes gradually lose their appeal as we hanker after lighter textures and flavours to match the season.

Make the most of seasonal ingredients such as asparagus, new potatoes, savoy cabbage, spring greens and purple sprouting broccoli to brighten up your plate. Think about lightly grilled, steamed or stir-fried fish and shellfish dishes to revitalise the taste buds. You might even be ready to start planning the first barbecue of the year.

Zesty citrus fruits are the perfect way to lighten and brighten fish dishes. Bake sea bream or sea bass stuffed with lemon or cook trout with orange for a tangy hit.

Or how about a ceviche – boneless and skinless slices of fresh fillet of trout or sea bass soaked in a citrus juice marinade?

Roast salmon fillets with new potatoes, asparagus spears and cherry tomatoes to use the best of new season produce. Then drizzle with olive oil and scatter with basil leaves to make the most of those fresh flavours.

Alternatively, for a low-calorie treat that’s packed with nutrients, grill salmon fillets and serve with peas, green beans and new potatoes with a dressing made from olive oil, lemon juice and chopped mint.

Garlic prawns are a great side dish if you’re making a tapas-style selection, cooked quickly on a high heat with lime juice, chilli powder and coriander.

The lighter texture of sea bass is the perfect accompaniment to new potatoes, garlic, tomatoes and pepper cooked with white wine, paprika and parsley.

Rick Stein has a recipe for seared scallops with chorizo and roast capsicum which marries the sweet caramelised flavour of lightly fried scallops with slightly hot, smoky chorizo.

“Place capsicums on a baking tray and roast until the skins are charred and the flesh is tender. Remove from the oven, seal in a plastic bag and allow to cool.

“Cut a small cross in the base of tomatoes. Blanch in a large saucepan of boiling water for 20 seconds, then plunge into iced water for 30 seconds. Peel, then remove seeds and finely chop the flesh. Set aside.

“Once cool enough to handle, split the capsicums over a bowl to collect the juices. Remove and discard the skin and seeds, then finely chop. Add the chopped capsicum to the bowl and set aside.

“Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add eschalot, garlic and chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the eschalots and garlic are soft and the chorizo is browned. Add the tomatoes and capsicum mixture, then simmer for 3-5 minutes until some of the excess moisture has evaporated and the sauce is thick but not dry. Stir in the chopped parsley and season with salt. Keep warm while you cook the scallops.

“Remove the scallops from their shells and set aside. Wash the shells, pat dry with paper towel, then set aside.

“Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Season the scallops on both sides with a little salt and pepper. In batches, cook the scallops for 1 minute each side or until golden but still translucent in the centre. Repeat with the remaining oil and scallops.

“Divide the chorizo and capsicum sauce among the shells and top each one with a scallop. Serve immediately.”

Jamie Oliver cooks cod with potatoes and spring onions in a stew.

“Slowly fry onion and leek with around 5 tablespoons of olive oil for 5 minutes until soft and tender. Remove and discard the fluffy core from the courgettes and grate the rest into the pan.

“Chop potatoes into rough 2cm dice and add to the pan, then add anchovies. Turn the heat up and add white wine. Allow to cook down by half before adding milk and stock.

“Bring to the boil and simmer for half an hour until the potatoes are tender. Add cod fillets and simmer for 15 minutes until the flesh flakes away.

“Season and divide between bowls, serving with a small handful of parsley and spring onion dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.”

He also suggests that a sprinkling of orange zest over the parsley and spring onion works particularly well with the cod.

And if you’re looking for a change from a glass of wine to accompany your meal, what about a cocktail such as a spring green to whet the appetite? Low on alcohol and refreshingly light, it couldn’t be easier to make. Stir fino sherry, elderflower liqueur and green chartreuse over ice and strain into a cold cocktail glass.


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