We’ve made it through a long chilly winter! It’s warming up a bit, the days are stretching out a little longer, and we have new seasonal fruit and veggies to get excited about. So let’s take a look at what’s around, before we dive into some inspiration:
A big warm welcome to berries - full of antioxidants, fibre and nutrients like folate and vitamin C. Strawberries love spring, and blueberries come into season from the start of November. Cherries will usually be in abundance from late November. You might see more cantaloup and watermelon around (so much sweeter and fuller in flavour when in season).
In spring, you can still enjoy lovely citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruit, mandarins and oranges. Plenty of varieties of apples still abound, and bananas and avocado are in season year-round. Don’t forget staples like rhubarb and pineapple are also still in season.
Both globe and Jerusalem artichokes have arrived, and spring newcomers we haven’t seen in a while include beans (round), capsicum, chillies, cucumber, peas, squash and zucchini. Seasonal lettuce varieties like witlof and watercress are a lovely spring addition.
Carrying on from winter, we still have delicious and versatile broad beans, broccoli, cauliflower, fennel, parsnip, okra, snow peas and spinach. And of course all year round veggies we can take advantage of include beetroot, carrots, leek, lettuce, onions, parsley, potatoes, rhubarb, silverbeet, spring onion and swede.
Seasonal roots and herbs
As it warms up a bit, basil becomes more abundant. Also look out for chives, chervil, fresh chillies, coriander, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary and sage.
Roots like garlic, ginger and lemongrass make for some wonderful spring aromatics.
So what will we do with all this amazing produce?
I love stir fries in spring. Somehow it feels good to move away from the heavier / comfort foods like roasts and stews, into wok tossed dishes with bold flavours like ginger, garlic, chilli and coriander. New season produce like snow peas, capsicum and green beans are amazing in saucy stir fries – paired with beef, chicken or tofu for a balanced high protein meal.
To me, spring time means salads are back on the menu – take your inspiration from the vibrant colours of seasonal produce – maybe roast up a big tray of in-season vegetables like asparagus, beetroot, potatoes and cauliflower. Combine with a grain like quinoa, buckwheat or brown rice, and drizzle with dressings using Extra Virgin Olive Oil, pesto, tahini and Greek yoghurt to really make those veggies sing.
Soup in spring? Absolutely. What about a spring minestrone, or chicken and veggie soup with lots of ginger, garlic, herb and lemon flavours. This is the best time to take advantage of seasonal Jerusalem artichokes – they look like a cross between ginger and a mini potato, and when roasted or cooked in soups, have a unique sweet, rich taste reminiscent of truffles.
In spring, you might also like to have a go at pho (a Vietnamese style broth noodle soup), loaded up with bean shoots, coriander, mint leaves. Yum!
Our family is a big fan of pizza (I mean who isn’t!), and I love starting with a sourdough base, and each building our own version incorporating seasonal ingredients. I love a tomato base with shaved zucchini slices, capers, bocconcini, parmesan, basil, then finishing with rocket and lemon-infused oil just before serving. Another vegetarian pizza version for spring could be mushroom, roasted peppers and eggplant with cheese and herbs.
My final tip - pasta is always a great stand by in any season! Spring versions might include lemon and ricotta with peas and little pancetta. An eggplant parmigiana or lasagne. A fresh spring twist with smoked salmon, dill, asparagus, capers and a little crème fraiche. Or home made pesto pasta using seasonal herbs, served with poached chicken.
Are you feeling inspired yet?
Bio: Marnie is an experienced Accredited Practising Dietitian who specializes in gastrointestinal nutrition and supporting people to have an easier relationship with food. Find out more at forkthatnutrition.com and follow her on Instagram @forkthatnutrition.