What to eat this month – May

1Mondays

ecogreenlove_seasonalMay

Apricots

Just one single apricot in all its sweet and juicy glory contains a good amount of your daily vitamins A and C, plus some fiber and potassium all for just 17 calories. It also offers some iron, says Sheth, which, in the presence of that vitamin C, is absorbed more effectively by the body.

TIP:
A perfect on-the-go snack, apricots can also be chopped or blended into parfaits or smoothies, says Sheth. Try them sliced with peanut butter for a fresher take on the classic PB&J, she suggests.

Artichokes

Globe artichokes make a delicious starter simply boiled whole and served with melted butter, mayonnaise, hollandaise or vinaigrette for dipping the leaves. Break off each leaf and draw the soft fleshy base through your teeth. Once you’ve removed all the leaves, you can pull or slice off the hairy ‘choke’ and then eat the heart and the meaty bottom with the remaining sauce.

Scrub Jerusalem artichokes and boil or steam until tender and then peel. If a recipe calls for peeled Jerusalem artichokes, peel them and drop into acidulated water until ready to use to stop them from discolouring.

Asparagus

This sweet, sexy superfood is in season in Britain for just a few short weeks. So grab those melt-in-the-mouth spears while you can and feast! Asparagus is one luxury you can afford.

TIPS:
Try using perfectly cooked spears to dunk into soft boiled eggs.
Try asapargus griddled and served with a drizzle of your best extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice and a grating of Parmesan.

Boysenberries

Seeing as this gem is a cross between a raspberry and a blueberry, it’s not surprising that it packs similar brainpower-boosting benefits, antioxidants and vitamins, says Sheth. Boysenberries are also rich in fiber.

TIPS:
Although they’re less common, boysenberries can be enjoyed just like any other berry, says Sheth: just as they are, or in salads, smoothies, or even on top of pancakes, she says. Look for them at your farmer’s market this month.

Broccoli

The most common variety of broccoli is calabrese, which is available all year round. Long-stemmed sprouting broccoli, which may be either green or purple, is in season during the spring, and romanesco, which is pale-green in colour, and closely related to the cauliflower, appears in the autumn. Look for tightly packed, dark-green or purple heads with no signs of yellowing or flowers, and firm stems.

Fresh broccoli should be refrigerated in breathable wrapping, and consumed within 2-3 days of purchase. To freeze it, steam or blanch it to your taste, cool in iced water, drain, and freeze in a sealed container for up to 12 months.
Article by Felicity Cloake

Cauliflower

“People think about staying away from white-colored foods,” says Sheth, “but cauliflower is the exception.” While it doesn’t often get the praise its relative broccoli gets, it’s worthy of it. Both come from the same cruciferous family of vegetables, well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Often thought of as a cooler-weather veggie, cauliflower is ripe for the picking in a number of states this month, offering possible protection against cancer and stroke.

TIP:
Beside enjoying it raw with a little dip, Sheth suggests using it as a low-calorie substitute for potatoes, either baked or mashed. Or try roasting it with some Indian spices like turmeric, she says, with some garbanzo beans for protein and fiber.

Collards

Collard greens and ham hocks just go together like peas and carrots. The long, slow stewing of greens and hocks together is one of our favorite Sunday rituals.

Collards have a reputation for needing to be cooked to death. We’ve discovered that’s just not true, even though they are delicious that way. The truth is that quick-sautéed collard greens are deliciously toothsome, but not impossible to chew through. We also can’t believe we never thought of stuffing collard greens like cabbage leaves until today.

Chicory

Chicory is available throughout the winter months. Choose chicory with crisp, fresh-looking leaves that are springy to the touch and tightly packed; there should be no sign of insect damage. Once picked and exposed to light, chicory leaves start to become more bitter, so they should be stored wrapped in paper to keep out the light and eaten as soon after picking as possible.

Chicory works best in composed salads rather than tossed with other, softer leaves. Raw chicory leaves are excellent eaten fresh, drizzled with a little vinaigrette, or stir-fried and served as a vegetable side dish. Whole heads of chicory can be baked, poached or griddled. Chicory is particularly good wrapped in ham, covered with a Béchamel sauce and baked in the oven.

Gooseberry

Gooseberry recipes are a quintessential summer treat: Try gooseberry purée with mackerel or roast pork. Or pair them with elderflower for delicious gooseberry pies, tarts and crumbles. The high pectin content in the fruit, makes an ideal gooseberry jam.

For a sweet gooseberry sauce, top and tail green gooseberries before tossing them into the pan. Add sugar, to taste, and just a splash of water to prevent the fruit from burning. Cover and cook for a few minutes. Once the juices begin to bubble, uncover and cook until the fruit has broken down. In a rainy season, gooseberries exude more liquid than usual, so you may have to boil them down well if you want to make that classic June dish, gooseberry fool. Cool the cooked gooseberries, then fold into thick custard mixed with lightly whipped cream.

Leeks

A member of the onion family, the leek is a versatile spring vegetable that, chopped and combined with carrot, celery and onion, makes a great base for soups or stews. Its mild, sweet flavour also partners well with butter and cream in sauces, soufflés and gratins.

Leeks should have dark-green leaves and fresh-looking roots. Choose firm bulbs with even-coloured skins.

Trim away the tough, woody stalk end and use the green leaves to wrap the contents of a bouquet garni (a bundle of herbs added to soups, stews and stocks to add flavour and removed before serving). Read 7 uses for leftover leek leaves. Clean leeks thoroughly before cooking by separating the leaves and rinsing them under cold running water.
Make leeks the star of the show by whizzing up the traditional chilled soup, Vichyssoise. Alternatively, top hot leek and potato soup with deep-fried oysters for a dramatic finish. Baby leeks make a pretty side dish steamed or griddled whole.

Morel Mushrooms

Why We Love Them: Sure, these guys are pretty funny looking, but they boast a unique flavor and are a true sign of spring, prime morel hunting season. In the same family as truffles, they can be pricey, but they do pack some benefits, like potassium and B vitamins. Research in animals suggests morel mushrooms may have benefits for liver function, says Sheth, and, like other mushrooms, they are a decent source of vitamin D, she says.

TIP:
Tasty raw in salads, they’re also yummy in stir fries, or simply sautéed or grilled with a little olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, says Sheth.

New potatoes

New potatoes are potatoes from the early crop that are smaller than old (maincrop) potatoes. The most popular and well-known new potato is the Jersey Royal. The unique growing conditions in Jersey (the combination of the gentle climate, the steep slopes and the seaweed used as a fertiliser) produce these delicate new potatoes, which have the same Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status as Stilton and clotted cream, effectively giving their name EU-wide protection from potential imitators. Other varieties of new potato include Arran Pilot, Home Guard and Red Craig’s Royal.

New potatoes are delicious simply cooked in butter, added to Spanish omelette, simmered in a seasonal broth or made into salad. Leave the skins on as much of the flavour (and the vitamin C goodness) can be found just under the skins.

Radish

The radish is a plant whose edible fuchsia and white root is used in cooking. The texture of the root is crisp and crunchy like a carrot and its flavour is hot and peppery. Radishes can be cooked but are arguably best raw, either added to salads, marinated in vinaigrette, or eaten as a snack with a sprinkling of celery salt.

When choosing radishes, look for bright green leaves, which indicate freshness and quality.

Rhubarb

Long, thin and proudly pink, rhubarb is a great British favourite, versatile enough to both form classic ‘comfort food’ puddings and work extremely well with meat.

TIPS:
Try making a crumble with a few balls of chopped up stem ginger. The flavours work brilliantly together.
Poach rhubarb in orange juice and zest, cinnamon and a sprinkling of sugar and serve in a magnificent pavlova.
Mix poached rhubarb with double cream and spread inside a Victoria sponge.

Samphire

Samphire is a sea vegetable that grows abundantly on shorelines, in marshy shallows and on salty mudflats. It has a crisp texture and tastes of the sea.

Good fishmongers will sell samphire. Otherwise, try looking for it at your local farmers’ market.

Wash samphire thoroughly under running water before use. Don’t add salt to the cooking water as it’s already salty enough. Use fresh in salads or serve it boiled and dipped in melted butter to be eaten like asparagus with fish dishes.

Rocket

This peppery leaf is also known as arugula, particularly in the US. It’s a dark green salad vegetable, popular in Mediterranean countries. The leaves have a slightly bitter, peppery flavour and are gathered when they’re young. Rocket is a rich source of iron as well as vitamins A and C.

Home-grown rocket leaves are often speckled with small holes, but these taste just as good as unblemished leaves, so don’t despair.

Rocket makes a delicious addition to salads but can also be used to make soups and to replace basil in pesto. A bed of rocket is a good base on which to serve grilled poultry or fish.

Spinach

Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that is generally cooked, but can also be eaten raw when young enough to be tender. It has a bittersweet taste and its strong colour can be used to dye pasta green, for example.

Spinach is at its best from May to October, but it’s available year-round. Look for vibrant green leaves without yellowing or signs of bruising. Smaller leaves are best for salads, whereas larger ones stand up better to heat. Bear in mind that spinach leaves shrink dramatically, so what looks like an enormous amount won’t be when it’s cooked.

Store dry spinach, loosely packed in a bag in the salad crisper of your fridge for up to one week. To freeze, blanch the spinach, squeeze the water out, then divide into serving portions in freezer bags.
Article by Felicity Cloake

Spring onion

Pick a normal onion early in the growing season and you’ll get a spring onion. Spring onions are useful for adding a marked onion note to dishes, particularly when used raw.

Spring onions should have dark-green leaves and fresh-looking roots. Choose firm bulbs with even-coloured skins and no signs of sprouting.

Serve spring onions in salads, or sprinkled over Chinese dishes (particularly steamed fish), or stirred into raita or traditional Irish champ (mashed potatoes speckled with chopped spring onions). They can also be brushed with olive oil and chargrilled whole.

Spring Peas

One of spring’s tiniest veggies is also one of its most nutritious. Peas are loaded with fiber and vitamins A, C and K, which is important for healthy blood and bones, says Sheth.

TIP:
Sprinkling some raw peas into a salad offers even more vitamin C per one cup than serving them as a cooked side dish. Sheth suggests mashing them into guacamole to cut back on some of the fat from the avocado. They’re also tasty additions to pasta and rice dishes.

Strawberries

The strawberry, a true symbol of warmer weather, is coming into its own this month. One serving of the low-calorie fruit packs more vitamin C than an orange and offers protection against heart attacks, cognitive declineand damage to the skin from UV rays. The high antioxidant content has also been credited with increasing HDL, or “good” cholesterol, says Vandana Sheth, R.D.N., C.D.E., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

TIP:
Straight from the vine! Pick your own this season and burn some calories in the process. Or try them as a sweet addition to salads with balsamic vinegar, says Sheth.

Watercress

Watercress leaves have a mustardy bite that makes them natural bedfellows to strongly flavoured meats such as game. The leaves are most commonly served raw as a garnish to eggs or meat, or as part of a salad with orange segments. Watercress also makes a pleasingly peppery soup that is as good hot as it is chilled.

Sources:
BBC Food • WOMAN’S DAY • HUFFINGTON POST • EAT SEASONABLY
[Images from www.gettyimages.com]

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