Spring is finally here and this season is all about growth and renewal. As the weather starts to warm up and the days stretch out a little longer, you might find yourself with an extra spring in your step. Another feature of the changing of seasons is that it brings new seasonal produce – and that means shaking things up a bit in the kitchen.
It’s time to get excited about these seasonal fruits and vegetables:
- Let’s give a warm welcome to berries, which we love for their amazing health properties, vibrant colours and antioxidants, and of course – how delicious they are;
- apricots, cherries and cumquats start to appear;
- bananas are in season all year round, as are grapefruit;
- citrus fruits like oranges, mandarins, lemons and limes are in season.
- Artichokes are spring newcomers that we haven’t seen in a while;
- Asian greens like choy sum, pak choy and Chinese broccoli are abundant;
- springtime in Victoria means asparagus;
- beans (including broad beans) appear;
- beetroot and broccoli are still around;
- we also have cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, chillies and cucumber;
- there’s plenty of garlic, leek, onion, spring onion and all lettuce;
- peas, rhubarb, snow peas and potatoes are in season;
- and let’s welcome those vibrant and versatile greens – spinach and silver beet.
Spring meal inspiration
I don’t know about you, but in winter, my family gravitates to warming, hearty versions of pastas, roasts, soups and stews. I love it when we emerge from winter, thaw out a bit and start to shake things up in the kitchen. Here are some spring menu ideas to give you a bit of seasonal inspiration:
Salads are back on the menu
- Coleslaw, served with chicken tenders, fish tacos, or slow cooked meats. Thinly shaved red and white cabbage, grated carrot and a zingy mayonnaise are all you need to pull together a super quick rainbow coleslaw.
- Roasted vegetable salads. Why not roast up a tray of in-season vegetables such as asparagus, carrot, cauliflower, potato and leek (drizzle with lots of extra virgin olive oil and add your favourite spices).
- Grain-based salads that use barley, freekeh, brown rice or quinoa, along with fresh greens such as kale, parsley and spinach in a zesty citrus dressing.
- Don’t forget, fruit can go in salads too. Mix lettuce with orange segments, baby bocconcini cheese, olives, shaved carrot and an olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. Yum!
- Toasted nuts like almonds, pine nuts and walnuts add crunchy texture, protein and healthy fats to make salads more interesting, satisfying and higher in fibre and nutrients.
Clean off and fire up the BBQ
- Now it’s a little lighter and less chilly in the evening, it’s time to give your BBQ a spring clean and get cooking outdoors again.
- Grilled asparagus, charred broccoli and jacket potatoes are great BBQ options.
- Cooking fish inside the house can be a little smelly and messy, so the warmer months are great for getting back to cooking omega-3 rich fish like sardines, salmon and tuna on the BBQ.
More meal ideas
- Stir-fry’s are another great crossover dish during spring and there’s lots of new produce in season to throw in the wok – like beans, capsicum and snow peas.
- You could also incorporate seasonal vegetables into a simple curry or fried rice and top with fresh flavours like coriander, ginger, Vietnamese mint and lime juice.
- Spring is a great time for fresh, seasonal soups like pho (a Vietnamese style broth noodle soup), carrot and ginger or spring minestrone with peas and asparagus.
- Seasonal veggies like charred broccoli, spinach and zucchini work well on homemade pizza, or sautéed in a simple pasta sauce.
Give your pantry and fridge a spring clean
Spring cleaning in the kitchen isn’t just about cleaning in nooks and crannies and rearranging your crockery. It’s a great time to take stock of your fridge and pantry and give your supplies a good refresh.
Check the ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ dates of nuts and seeds – which are perishable and can become rancid and stale. Compost any that no longer make the grade and restock with fresh supplies:
- pine nuts (for pesto and pastas), pistachios and almonds (for platters, salads and snacks), pecans (for baking and granola), cashews (for stir-fry’s and trail mix), peanuts (for Asian stir-fry’s, curries and noodle salads).
Look through your oils and replace any that are over 12 months old. Take stock of your canned and packaged items and relocate those that have been languishing at the back. Make a list of these items, then get take a look at our recipes to use them!
Take all the bottles, jars and condiments out of your fridge, give them a clean and check both the ‘use by’ date and for visible signs of mould (warning, this can be a bit confronting, depending how often you clean out your fridge)!
And there you are! Inspired, refreshed and ready for spring in the kitchen.