We have our backs turned firmly on winter and, while not quite into full-blown summer, the larder door is slowly opening on superb British produce. Taking centre stage is British asparagus and with such a short season – late April to June – it has to make as much noise as possible. Asparagus is available year-round but most of it comes from overseas and has about as much life as a three-day-old corpse, so eat the fresh local stuff while you can.
Bouncing around everywhere in May is spring lamb. Lamb is at its most tender throughout May and into June. With the lambs’ diet of fresh spring grass their flavour develops beautifully. Serve the lamb with the other seasonal goodies hitting the shelves right now: the aforementioned asparagus, nuggets of Jersey Royal potatoes, baby broad beans, carrots and a touch of early mint for a out-and-out spring feast.
It is still too early for most salad leaves but pea shoots – the current darlings of the chef world – and the former star rocket put in an appearance. The questionable use of polytunnels means that in some parts of Britain you could also be enjoying early tomatoes and strawberries.
May also gives us tasty crabs, wild salmon and sea trout, and with samphire at its best right now, these make even more striking food combinations. Below are two simple, seasonal recipes using crab, asparagus and Jersey Royals.
Asparagus and Crab Linguine, with a Parsley and Lemon Butter Sauce
Two of May’s best foods in a light, healthy and delicious recipe.
300g dried linguine
1 tbsp olive oil
2 freshly dressed crabs (meat taken out of the shells)
1 bundle of British asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3cm lengths
3 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp chives, finely chopped
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 mild red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
50ml vegetable stock
Juice 1 lemon
Cook the linguine in plenty of boiling salted water for 10-12 minutes. Drain the majority of the water leaving 2-3 tbsp in the pan. Add the olive oil, stir it through and keep the pasta warm.
Melt the butter in a large sauté pan, add the onion and asparagus and season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sweat over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes then add the chilli and garlic and cook for another minute.
Add the crab along with the vegetable stock and cook for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley, chives and lemon juice then add the pasta and mix all the ingredients together thoroughly. Season to taste if necessary and serve immediately.
Based on a recipe from british-asparagus.co.uk
Jersey Royals in Mustard and Honey Dressing
A lovely way to serve Jerseys. Perfect to add to a salad or as a side dish to grilled fish
700g small Jersey Royal potatoes
3 tbsp clear honey
10ml (2 tsp) Dijon mustard
Juice of ½ lime
To garnish: 1 tbsp chopped coriander
Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the potatoes, bring back to the boil, then simmer gently for 12-15 minutes or until just tender.
Meanwhile, heat together the honey, butter and mustard in a small saucepan, stirring until well blended. Add the lime juice
Drain the cooked potatoes. Pour the honey glaze over and gently toss the potatoes in the saucepan until evenly coated.
Serve hot or warm, garnished with chopped coriander.
Based on a recipe from jerseyroyals.co.uk