“Hello June!” and “Oh my god where exactly did January-May go and why isn’t it still March where my head is?”. Sadly I haven’t conquered time. So to console myself over the terrifying time rollercoaster I appear to be sat on – with no emergency exit – I’m going to eat some seasonal treats. And here’s what I’m going to be eating.
Garlic gets chucked in almost everything that comes out of my kitchen, so I don’t honestly think of it as a seasonal treat. But at this time of the year, it’s nice to make a feature of the garlic rather than using it as a behind-the-scenes techie, propping up the other ingredients.
The simplest way to do so is to get a few big bulbs, turn them on their side and cut off the pointy end. You want to cut no more than a third off so that the cloves inside are exposed. Don’t remove the papery outer skin. Don’t do anything else. Just pop the decapitated bulbs on some tin foil on a baking tray, drizzle the tops with olive oil and a tiny bit of sea salt, loosely seal the foil to form little parcels and roast at about 190 degrees for about 45 mins. Roasting garlic softens the flavour so it’s smooth, almost sweet and, crucially, much less pungent. Once the bulbs are done, you can squeeze out the garlic pulp and spread it on crusty bread. Makes a fun starter if you’ve got people round.
Roasted garlic is also amazing with chicken. Scatter unpeeled cloves around a roasting chicken and when the chicken is done, you’ll have a ready-made condiment on the side.
Fresh peas (popped out of the pod):
Again, peas live in the supermarket freezer cabinet all year round and they taste just as nice. But at this time of year you can start getting them in the pod. I love to pop peas out of the pod because of the smell and the childhood association with my aunt and uncle’s allotment. And also because I can pretend I picked them myself out of my very own walled kitchen garden… Plus you get peas that are different sizes which, in these homogeneous times, is actually more attractive when served in a big bowl with a sprig of mint on top.
Peas are happy in risottos and frittatas.
This is also a classic, courtesy of BBC Good Food: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3671/peas-and-spring-cabbage-with-pancetta
This sounds really tasty, particularly if you want a bit more spice: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/461642/keema-with-peas
Broad beans (again, out of pod is best):
More fun with pods. Although broad beans have never been my all-time favourite, I find them a bit compulsive when eaten straight from the pod. A bit like the way some people react to pretzels….”I don’t know if I like them, so I’ll just eat 15 more to make sure…”.
Jamie Oliver comes up trumps on the humble broad bean, and two of the recipes below also include peas!
http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/bread-recipes/incredible-smashed-peas-broad-beans (this sounds so tasty but is also worryingly reminiscent of the first ‘sandwich’ I was ever fed, at about a year old. Mashed peas and carrots. In bread. Mmmmm.)
Beetroot gets a bad rep because the supermarket pickled versions often taste mostly of vinegar and very little of beetroot. You can use fresh beetroot in salads by grating it or slicing it very finely. Or you can roast it, which is amAZing. Add a drizzle of honey and a splash of orange juice to bring out the sweetness. It’s also fun to make beetroot crisps (see a link to Riverford’s recipe below) or you can buy ready made vegetable crisps and pick out the beetroot ones because they are easily the best bit. Not that I do this…
Elderflower is often paired with gooseberries (also in season) but I have a deep-rooted suspicion of the gooseberry and just can’t bring myself to eat it. It’s sour and hairy. How is this good?
I found this on the BBC Good Food site though, and will definitely be trying it. Elderflower and cucumber; no gooseberries in sight.
Image courtesy of freefoto.com