May, for me, is all about asparagus (green and white) and heaps and heaps of strawberries. The asparagus season is usually in full swing by the beginning of the month, but though I’m bound to be buying 2 kilos of strawberries a week by now anyway, the sweetest, juiciest, darkest berries don’t tend to appear until the end of May. There’s plenty of other fresh produce to be enjoyed now, including new potatoes, herbs for making Frankfurt green sauce and…
Spring onions, also known as green onions or scallions (Frühlingszwiebeln), are, I think, rather underrated. They have a lovely mild flavour and can be eaten cooked or raw; and you can do an awful lot more with them than just slicing them up and scattering them on top of a salad. Spring onions are available year-round but in season right now, stacked high in their bright green bunches on almost every vegetable stand at the market. What better time to try:
★ the world famous Momofuku ginger and spring onion noodles,
★ Diana Henry’s pot roast chicken with baby gem lettuces, spring onions and chervil or
★ Chinese spring onion pancakes?
There’s no forced winter rhubarb (Rhabarber) in Germany, so we have to wait until summer to get our hands on the tangy pink stalks. They only need washing and trimming before cooking, and they taste fabulous prepared in ways both savoury and sweet, turned into pies and fools, jams, jellies, and ices. The Germans like to turn rhubarb into a sweet nectar, which they drink diluted with fizzy water: known as a Rhabarberschorle (rhubarb spritzer), it’s my favourite non-alcoholic summer drink, and if you’d like to know how to make it at home, The Kitchen Maus has a version with strawberry. I just love rhubarb, and there’s almost nothing I wouldn’t do for:
★ a proper rhubarb crumble (yes of course that links to Delia Smith),
★ Dan Lepard’s rhubarb posset, or
★ spiced rhubarb with my roast pork.
German strawberries (Erdbeeren) are the juiciest, sweetest strawberries I’ve ever tasted, and with the annual glut on the horizon, if you live in a strawberry-producing region you can start thinking up all sorts of ways of using them up – if you’re unsatisfied with simply eating them straight out of their punnet. When you’re up to your eyeballs in jam, have made smoothies and daiquiris and pies, and you’re looking to something else to do with them (although what more could you really want than to make a proper French strawberry tart with crème patissière?) how about trying:
★ roasting them (before it gets too hot)
★ making Fresh strawberry marshmallows, or
★ whipping up a strawberry and cinnamon torte.
(And for those of you with a love of frozen strawberry things (me) and no ice cream maker (also me), here’s a 5-minute strawberry frozen yoghurt.)
I love all beans and legumes, but especially the fresh green ones, and especially at this time of year when they’re piled in straggly mountains at the market, waiting to be grabbed by the handful and stuffed into brown paper bags. I like to shred and steam runner beans, or Haricots Verts (Stangenbohnen) and serve them just with salt flakes and butter, but I prefer to play around a bit more with green beans (grüne Bohnen), favouring recipes such as:
★ spicy curry laksa (one of my all-time favourite dishes from Yotam Ottolenghi),
★ Mark Hix’s simple green bean and bacon salad, or
★ Diana Henry’s green beans with feta, red chilli and tarator.
I’m a relatively recent convert to chicory, or endive (Chicoree), though I’ll admit I still find it unpleasantly bitter on its own, particularly when it’s thrown on the side of a plate with a cherry tomato as a quick garnish (which seems to happen a lot where we live). These cone-shaped red or white salad leaves can be eaten cooked or raw, and I think they work best warm, for example:
★ caramelized with cheese, Ottolenghi-style,
★ braised with chicken and crème fraîche or
★ served with orecchiette and sausage.
Also in season in May:
What do you enjoy eating this month? Any seasonal recipes to recommend?