March brings the bright shoots of spring, with woods full of wild garlic, buds and blossom appearing on the trees. Everything is waking up, but it needs a little time to do so and we are actually approaching the Hungry Gap, the trickiest time of year for UK farmers.
For a few weeks, usually in April, May and early June, winter crops have ended but the new season’s plantings are not yet ready to harvest.
Getting to grips with seasonal eating means embracing the rhythm of the year. The hungry gap can be a good time to unleash your creativity as there is still lots of root veg harvested and stored through the winter to enjoy, freshly picked cauliflowers, and lush early greens such as Hungry Gap kale, leeks, and purple sprouting broccoli.
Here are our top five plant-based recipes to try in this year’s Hungry Gap:
Tahini roasted cauliflower with halloumi and lentils
Perfect for this time of year, it is fresh and light enough for a sunny-but-not-that-hot weather, yet will still warm you on chillier days. Don't throw your cauli leaves! They have a lot of culinary value, as does the stalk and this recipe uses both. Cauliflower is roasted in lemony tahini and served with fried halloumi chunks on a bed of harissa lentils. To try this recipe, click here.
Purple sprouting broccoli, squash, and spelt salad
Vigorous, wild and woolly-looking, purple sprouting broccoli is a seasonal delicacy equal to asparagus. Here it makes a hearty salad, paired with the caramelised sweetness of roast squash and nutty spelt with a tangy citrus dressing. Click here for the recipe.
Cauliflower, butter beans and kale
Easy and versatile, you can use any kale variety with this vegan recipe. This is best served warm or at room temperature so that the flavours from the dressing have a chance to infuse, and for a more substantial meal goes well with beetroot and carrot burgers on wilted spinach and roasted portobellos. For the full recipe click here.
Leek and parmesan tart
Lots of leeks? This recipe is a wonderful way to use them up. The secret lies in cooking the leeks long and slow; the rest takes no time at all. You can exercise your imagination adding extra toppings, just like a pizza: try anchovies, olives, or different cheeses, such as mozzarella or goat's cheese.
Great for zero waste eating, you can finish off those tasty bits from jars in the fridge and do make sure you use all the leek – for a handy prep guide see the below zero waste Veg Hack. For the recipe click here.
Baked potatoes with cheesy kale filling
The ultimate comfort food, here the humble spud gets an upgrade with an easy cheesy filling that is full of green goodness too. A cheap and easy midweek dinner. the recipe can be easily adapted to your kitchen contents: use chard or spinach if you have this in your veg box instead of kale, or use a smoky cheese such as Gruyère in place of cheddar. For the recipe click here.