Seasonal food to cook in May

As May dawns, we're officially settled into spring time, with the temperature finally starting to turn towards sunnier spells. Here's what to eat in May to keep your diet seasonal, healthy and above all, delicious. 

Asparagus

asparagus

May brings a delicious vegetable treat in the form of home-grown English asparagus. This is wonderfully crisp and juicy when freshly cut from the garden or a pick-your-own farm—and economical as well.

Take advantage of its availability while you can, for the season ends before June is out. Look for thick, young shoots that are thin skinned and tender, and cut them cleanly off the plant near their base. This plump and tender, prime-quality asparagus should be eaten fresh as freezing makes the vegetable limp.

It is worth freezing some of the thinner, slightly middle-grade spears. These will still be tender, if not quite so plump and succulent, ideal for making soup or adding to sauced dishes such as pasta bakes and pie fillings.

Tall, thin and/or woody spears are often sold very cheaply and these are also useful for making soups and sauces.

 

Seasonal salads

salad
Image via Scrummy Lane

May is the perfect month for creating salads using light dressings and fresh herbs. Salad ingredients are now available throughout the year, but as summer approaches the emphasis moves away from serving them as accompaniments and towards making salad meals.

Experiment with more adventurous combinations of classic salad leaves with fish or seafood, poultry or meat, or marinated cheese. Pepper your salads with additional flavours and textures by adding nuts, seeds and spices, and top them with well-mixed dressings.

Oysters, scallops and mussels are now out of season, but they are replaced by lobster and crab, with skate and monkfish tail offering good value for money. Look out for the first young mackerel, especially at small fishing ports where local fishermen sell their catch.

Read about our top 10 freshest spring salad recipes

 

Don't forget the fruit

gooseberry crumble

Gooseberries and apricots are the seasonal choice for dessert, but it is worth remembering that both fruit also go very well with savoury foods. A simple sauce of sweetened stewed gooseberries is a classic accompaniment for mackerel, the sharp tang of the fruit balancing the rich flavour of the fish.

Apricots are a popular fruit to serve with meat. Dried apricots are commonly used in stuffings but the fresh fruit also tastes good with richer poultry and meat, such as duck, lamb, pork and gammon.

Poach halved and stoned apricots in a wine sauce made with the cooking juices from a roast joint or grilled cutlets, chops or steaks, and add a little redcurrant jelly or a hint of honey to counteract the sharp apricot flavour.