28 April 2015

Wild garlic pesto

Visiting my parents at the weekend, we decided to go for a walk in the woods. My mum was keen to see bluebells. I was keen to pick wild garlic. My dad is an artist, and there’s a wonderful little wood near his studio that we thought would fit the bill.

April is a lovely time of year for a walk in the woods. The trees are just starting to put on leaf growth, and lots of light floods onto the forest floor, which is a riot of verdant green and wild woodland flowers, primroses, wood anemones, forget-me-nots and bluebells, all of which put on their show before the trees’ leaves shade the forest floor for another summer. By the end of April, wild garlic is coming to the end of its season, but is particularly easy to spot once its starry white flowers appear. 

21 April 2015

Crab and Samphire Linguine

Crab, samphire and other ingredients
At the weekend I went down to my local fishmongers, Brighton and Newhaven Fish Sales, and was excited to see the first of the new season’s samphire. I couldn’t resist. I also bought a crab, and decided to make crab and samphire linguine. It seemed the perfect supper on a sunny spring day.
Samphire is a sort of succulent, which grows in salt marshes. It is in season from about mid spring to August, and has a pleasant slightly salty flavour. It is delicious lightly steamed with a little good quality olive oil, and a twist of pepper, and works well with fish. In the spring it is great raw, but tends to get a bit woody as the season goes by.  It can be foraged, although most of the places I know where it grows tend to be on the side of rivers with heavy marine traffic or in nature reserves. I avoid picking the former because of the risk of pollutants and the latter because, well, foraging from nature reserves seems to be frowned upon, for good reason.

18 April 2015

Planting an asparagus bed

Asparagus is one of the classic spring vegetables, available for a couple of months from about early to mid April. These days asparagus can be found in the shops all year round, much of it imported from Peru. Imported asparagus rarely has the flavour of English asparagus in season. Sadly, English asparagus always seems to carry a hefty price tag, even in the middle of the season. I saw a bunch of English asparagus for sale in Borough Market recently, right at the beginning of the season, for £6. I counted the bunch, there were 7 spears. Much as I like asparagus, I am not really willing to pay almost a pound a spear for it.

1 April 2015

What's in season in April

April is one of my favourite months. In part this may be because it is the month of my birthday (although the thought of being a year older is much less attractive these days than when I was a child). But mostly because it is spring. Plants are covered in the first flush of new green leaves, bulbs are out, and the birds are singing. In the veg plot, April is more about sowing and planting than harvesting. Most of the veg that can be picked in April is either from plants that were sown the previous year, such as spring cabbages, or perennials, like asparagus. It is a great time of year to get out into the countryside, and there are various wild foodstuffs that are worth foraging.