As we approach the end of a(nother) long, miserable winter and start itching for the first days of spring, the seasonal vegetables are perhaps starting to feel a little dull. The knobbly roots and leafy brassicas have been dominating market stalls for months now, the novelty of scrubbing and/or peeling roots has well and truly worn off, and I, for one, am beginning to lust after the green treats Spring has in store (see: wild garlic, asparagus, beans). Yet there’s still plenty to be done with what’s available now, so even if like many Germans right now you’re fasting in the run up to Easter, you can still eat very well indeed. Here’s my seasonal eating guide for March…
Orange, purple or white, carrots (Möhren or Karotten) have for a long time been a somewhat under-appreciated vegetables. Chopped and sautéed with celery, onion and herbs, they’ve traditionally formed the basis for all manner of soups and stews, but these days, they’re often used as the star of the show, too. If you’ve only ever bought tasteless carrots in depressing, plastic-wrapped supermarket packages then brightly-coloured bunches of feathery-leafed roots with a fabulous crunch and flavour will be a revelation. Gone are the overcooked coin-shaped carrot chunks from my school years; these days I’m enjoying carrots in:
✭ Sabrina Ghayour’s cumin-roasted carrots with honey-lemon dressing and goats’ cheese (pictured above)
✭ carrot soup with miso and sesame from Smitten Kitchen, and
✭ Yotam Ottolenghi’s butternut, carrot and goat’s cheese tartlets.
Though it’s becoming ever more popular around the globe, I’d never even heard of Kohlrabi (Kohlrabi) before moving to Germany. It’s arguably the weirdest-looking of all the vegetables, a smooth, pale green globe with great long, rubbery stems and straggly leaves, but with its crisp texture and mild flavour, kohlrabi is very good raw, sliced thinly and gently seasoned, or boiled in thick slices and served with melted butter. There are, however, myriad ways of dishing up this peculiar looking brassica – just make sure you remove its tough outer peel first. I’d like to try:
✭ Yotam Ottolenghi’s kohlrabi, apple and beetroot salad,
✭ a greek-style gratin with dill and feta and
✭ kohlrabi slaw with red onion, raisins and coriander.
Used to the plastic bags of pre-washed baby spinach in the UK, buying vast bunches of proper, grown up spinach (Spinat) from the market took a bit of getting used to. With their thick stems, these thicker, sturdier spinach leaves aren’t so good for salads, but if you give them a good wash to get off the grit and dirt and wilt them in a pan to serve alongside fried eggs or a chunk of white fish then you’re in for a treat (with the added bonus of it being extraordinarily good for you). If you want to do something a bit more special with spinach, however, why not have a go at:
In my experience, folk tend to be a bit divided over the thin, bitter-tasting leaves of rocket (arugula, Rucola). On its own, I can only appreciate its intense pepperiness in very small quantities, but balance it in dishes hot or cold with warmer, sweeter flavours and I can eat it without bound. Need to convince a rocket denier just how good rocket can be? Why not cook them up:
✭ Yotam Ottolenghi’s baked red onion and rocket salad with walnut salsa (pictured above)
✭ a rocket and courgette soup with goat’s cheese croutons, or
✭ Xanthe Clay’s simple pasta with garlic, chilli and rocket.
I love a good heap of the dark green, drop-shaped leaves of Lamb’s lettuce (also known as mâche, or in German, Feldsalat). With a drizzle of oil and vinegar, they make a lovely simple accompaniment to a warm vegetable cake or cold slices of a roasted bird, but there are plenty of much more creative things you could do with it. How about:
✭ Clothilde Dusoulier’s lamb’s lettuce and chicken soup,
✭ Nigel Slater’s very simple lamb’s lettuce salad, or
✭ a lamb’s lettuce salad with yoghurt dressing (includes a few options for tarting it up a bit).
What are you cooking with this month? And are you excited about what’s coming next?!