Celebrate Spring with 3 Fresh Dishes

With the arrival of spring comes the opportunity to develop a fresh and exciting seasonal menu. The local market is renowned for its green garlic, asparagus and rhubarb; seeing this fresh seasonal produce I couldn't help but start to formulate recipe ideas and a menu started to come together.

Asparagus is just a delight to see and really is a harbinger of springtime. There is nothing better than a shaved asparagus salad when they are harvested at this point in the season, making them sweet enough to eat raw.

My personal preference for preparing asparagus into thinly sliced ribbons is to use a mandolin, but for the uninitiated a knife is safer. When using such fresh ingredients, all that is required is to add salt and extra-virgin olive oil and maybe a dash of lemon but I wanted to elevate the dish with a vinaigrette. I decided on a Mediterranean style lemon vinaigrette; a great way of enhancing flavor is by adding anchovy to the mix, don't worry it doesn't make the flavor fishy but enhances the vinaigrette, but this can be left out, it’s all down to personnel preference.

A great way to add sharpness and a bit of color to the dish is to add thinly sliced radishes. There are a large variety of different radishes you can chose from which makes it the perfect time to explore your local farmers market and engage with the stall owners. Daikon radishes are becoming more and more common at markets across the country so keep an eye out for them. This really is a festive salad so the more color the better, a great addition as well is to add Parmesan cheese to the mix, the best way to do this is to add long shavings on top just before serving.

Green garlic is a seasonal crop that deserves to be celebrated. It can really elevate a dish but without over-powering the overall combined flavors, which is perfect for what we are looking to achieve. You will be able to identify it by its long green stem and resemblance to an onion, it can also have started to develop bulb near the root end. To prepare it for the dish we will need to peel off the outer layer, you then chop or mince the white and green stalk, then it’s ready for use in our dish.

The thing about being in the market, inspiration can jump out at you from any corner, one of the vendors sells magnificent free-range chicken and provided the inspiration for my second course. To make the perfect potato wedges for this dish I purchased beautiful golden fleshed Yukon potatoes. I stuffed the chicken starting with an herb mix of sage, rosemary and thyme, followed up with a healthy portion of our green garlic. The great thing about roasting chicken over the wedges is that there is a transfusion of flavor during the cooking process giving you perfectly flavored chicken and wedges. Don’t be afraid to add more vegetables of your choice to the bottom of the roasting pan, but remember to cut them into roughly similar size as your potatoes to prevent them being over cooked. Don't throw away the chicken carcass after your meal, it’s a perfect opportunity to place it in a large soup pot with roughly diced carrot and onion, cover with water and bring to a boil for 2 hours to create an unbeatable garlicky chicken stock for soups and stews.

Rhubarb's versatility is something I like to put to the test every year. Seeing its ruby red in the market inspires the mind and sets the plate salivating. The perfect way to finish this menu is with a crumble, a close cousin of other rustic style desserts like buckles or crisps. Start by cutting the rhubarb into large cubes, next we will coat the cubes in sugar and toss in a small amount of plain flour which will act as a thickening agent and will really help to bring out the colors in this dish. For the topping we will use a combination of flour, brown sugar and unsalted butter. To really take this crumble to the next level I would suggest sprinkling crushed pistachio over the top to add a bit of luxury and flair.

As soon as you open the oven door and smell the baked rhubarb, perfectly browned with the sugars rolling and bubbling, the only thing you could imagine accompanying the dish is heavy cream straight from the fridge, vanilla ice cream or a good quality whipped cream. There is nothing better than having a fridge full of leftovers and the great thing about rhubarb crumble is that it’s just as good the next day, especially for breakfast with your morning coffee.