Spring is an exciting time at the Fruit Market with new crops coming into season every week; from asparagus to new potatoes, bedding plants to tomatoes there are signs of new life everywhere. After the winter it is exciting to see this new growth and to look ahead to the months to come. The plants and flowers in spring are stunning, with bright bedding plants such as primroses and primula giving a dazzling display of colours and textures. Cut flowers too feature texture and this year the trend for natural, field style flowers is clear at the Fruit Market; plants such as greenbells, ammi and waxflowers are popular for use in arrangements and bunched flowers. These flowers look natural and tactile with subtle colours and interesting petals.
This year is proving to be a good year for asparagus with the ever-popular green varieties being joined by the more unusual purple and white varieties which are popular in Europe. English asparagus is so simple to cook and freshness is key as it loses its sweetness and crunch after picking. While you can buy imported asparagus throughout the year, English asparagus, which is in season from the end of April to the end of June, is a highlight of the vegetable year. It can be eaten raw, lightly steamed, boiled or roasted and can bring to life many dishes. This season I have featured two recipes with asparagus and purple sprouting broccoli; a classic risotto and a more adventurous tempura with a vegan and gluten free batter made with gram flour (chickpea flour) and ginger beer. Like asparagus, UK grown purple sprouting broccoli is also at its best in spring and it too is tastiest when it is cooked as fresh as possible. You can eat the whole stalk of purple sprouting and it takes very little cooking. Produce at the Fruit Market has been picked just days before it arrives so is at its peak of flavour and quality.
At the Fruit Market you can literally eat the rainbow with multi coloured fruits and vegetables; rainbow chard is one of the most impressive for its stunning yellow, pink, white, red and green stalks and leaves. You can serve chard as a side vegetable by slicing and lightly sautéing the stalks and adding the leaves at the end of cooking; or can use it as you would spinach in dishes like curries, stews or pies. I have featured a recipe for Chard and Haloumi Triangles that traditionally would be made with spinach; chard gives a more interesting flavour, texture and colour.
Passion for fruit and vegetables is what you notice most at the fruit market, with the traders sharing their love of quality and variety. You can pick up ideas for cooking just by stopping for a quick chat and can learn about where the crops are grown. Produce comes from around the world as well as England and one of the latest food trends is for Thai and Asian ingredients; if you want jackfruit and turmeric you can find it at the market alongside more familiar carrots and greens.
As the seasons change and temperatures rise more and more fruits are ready to pick and eat. In spring, before the first crops of strawberries and soft fruits, rhubarb comes into its own, though technically a vegetable, is a star ingredient for puddings. I like to roast rhubarb so that it keeps its shape and I always cook more than a recipe calls for so there is some left for adding to breakfast. A simple baked cheesecake topped with rhubarb is a winning pudding, and you can always serve the rhubarb on the side if not everyone is a fan. The flavours of ginger and orange complement rhubarb well and you can make this pudding as sweet or tart as you like. Through the year you could top this cheesecake with strawberries, raspberries, peaches or any other soft fruits that are in season.
Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Asparagus Risotto Vary the vegetables that you use to suit the seasons. I like to keep the vegetables separate but mix them in if you prefer. Ingredients 300g each of asparagus and purple sprouting broccoli, woody ends snapped off 1 onion, chopped finely 1 leek chopped finely 2 tbsp of oil … Continued
Spring Vegetable Tempura with Cashew and Chilli Dipping Sauce This vegan and gluten free batter is light and crunchy; the secret is to use ginger beer! If you don’t have any you can use fizzy water instead. Ingredients 8 spears of asparagus 8 stems of broccoli-purple sprouting or Tenderstem-sliced through the middle if it is … Continued
Rhubarb and Orange Baked Cheesecake Ingredients 500g rhubarb, cut into 4cm pieces A cinnamon stick The peel of an orange in a long strip, and its juice 100g brown sugar 175g ginger biscuits 80g unsalted butter 250g mascarpone cheese 150g cream cheese The zest and juice of an orange 1 tsp vanilla extract 3 eggs … Continued
Rainbow Chard and Haloumi Triangles with Tzatziki Makes approximately 12 triangles Ingredients 5 spring onions 1 cloves garlic 500g rainbow chard A squeeze of lemon juice 1 tsp Olive oil 200g haloumi A handful of chopped fresh mint 20g pine-nuts, toasted A generous grating of nutmeg Black pepper A pack of filo pastry 50g butter, … Continued