What to eat in
Fresh asparagus, home grown salad leaves and super-healthy spinach are are on the menu this May
May is asparagus season, and the perfect time of year to enjoy this gourmet vegetable. It's at its cheapest during May and June, when British asparagus is available from supermarkets and farmers' markets.
Asparagus is extremely easy to cook. It can be steamed or boiled – add to a large pan of boiling water for around five minutes. To roast asparagus drizzle with olive oil and bake in a hot oven for about 10 minutes. Serve with melted butter, hollandaise sauce or wrapped in smoked salmon – or sprinkle with lemon juice and shaved Parmesan.
Asparagus goes beautifully with goats' cheese or feta. For a quick and tasty supper, spread a sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry onto a lined baking tray and fold over the edges to form a rim. Spread the base with sundried tomato purée and crumble on a 200g block of feta cheese. Finally, arrange around 10 spears of asparagus on top, sprinkle with a little olive oil and brush the pastry edges with milk. Bake at 180°C for 20 minutes.
The asparagus tart is delicious served with a green salad – and salad leaves are quick and easy to grow at home. You don't need a big garden – just a couple of pots on the patio or windowsill will provide you with a constant supply of fresh leaves.
There are dozens of different salad varieties to choose from, including Little Gem (a crunchy green lettuce) and Lollo Rosso (a frilly red lettuce). Lettuce is usually served cold, drizzled with vinaigrette dressing made with three parts olive oil to one part white wine or balsamic vinegar. Ring the changes by adding different ingredients to the dressing: mustard, honey, lemon juice, crushed garlic or finely chopped herbs such as basil, parsley or chives are all delicious.
Adding extras to your leaves can make a salad more interesting. Try caraway seeds or toasted sunflower seeds with chopped apples. Pears work well, too, especially if combined with blue cheese, such as Stilton, crumbled over the top.
For salad Niçoise, add sliced hard-boiled eggs, green beans, anchovies and tuna to crisp, green Cos lettuce leaves. A classic Caesar salad also makes good use of Cos lettuce and anchovies, drizzled with a creamy, mayonnaise dressing and topped with chopped cooked chicken, Parmesan cheese and croutons.
For something completely different, though, why not serve lettuce hot? Little Gems can be halved, brushed with oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled on a barbeque. And iceberg lettuce can be stir-fried in sesame oil with garlic, red chilli, finely chopped root ginger and a dash of soy sauce.
Spinach is another crop that becomes available in May, and can also be eaten in a salad – perfect with pears, walnuts and a blue cheese dressing.
Wilt a few handfuls of baby spinach leaves and add to scrambled eggs, along with some crumbled feta, for a nutritious, filling breakfast or brunch. And for a perfect pasta topping, fry onion and chopped bacon in some olive oil, then add a bag of spinach leaves for a minute or two until just cooked.
Little Green Space May 2016