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How to celebrate the Veg New Year

I think everyone is feeling the same mixture of excitement and relief that summer is starting to show itself, especially after a horrible winter and a barely noticeable spring that was record-breakingly wet.

The beautiful weather we’ve had the last week felt more spectacular than usual; it’s made a seriously dramatic entrance. The Field Kitchen garden down here on the farm in south Devon is absolutely bursting with the early summer energy that’s so unique to this month.

Literally and figuratively it’s like life has finally had a chance to start again and all it took was a bit of sun and warmth for things to kick off – as a food lover this is a joy to watch! Young tender vegetables are delicious and it’s an absolute pleasure to be grazing from the garden again.

Spring Veg New Year
The Veg New Year heralds the start of the new UK growing season. 

This week I've been BBQ-ing Gem lettuces, garden peas and stealing artichokes from Riverford founder Guy’s fieldMeanwhile, the first soft herbs are starting to appear, and nothing beats using fresh oregano, thyme and tarragon straight from the polytunnel.  

I swear everything tastes just that little bit better this time of year. Maybe it’s because our diets are shifting back to the fresh and delicate treats of what’s available locally; early season potatoes are my absolute favourite, along with broad beans and asparagus. After months of eating hardy winter veg propped up by colourful additions from the continent, it’s an absolute joy to be eating fresh and local again.

Here are just a few of my favourite recipes that really get me excited about this time of year.

BBQ grilled garden peas

Peas

This is absolutely delicious and best done on a BBQ to get a super smoky taste. It’s a similar dish to Japanese-style edamame beans; use your teeth to pull out the beautifully sweet little peas. They are delicious with just a bit of salt and a gentle pinch of crushed chillis. Read the recipe here.

BBQ grilled Little Gem lettuce

Little Gem

Little Gem are the absolute super stars of the lettuce world. Young and full of a sweet nutty flavour – they’re delicious grilled on a BBQ or in the oven. They work really well with a creamy herby dressing or a flavoured olive oil. Read the recipe here.

Raw asparagus and fennel salad

Asparagus

This is a ridiculously flavoursome salad that is sharp and accentuates the unique taste and texture of the asparagus. Perfect as a quick and easy side dish for a BBQ or al-fresco lunch. Read the recipe here.

Quick pickled radish and radish tops

Radish

Radishes are great pickled as a garnish for a light salad, while the leaves are great to eat, too, Cook these up with garlic, soy sauce and toasted peanuts, to serve with the sweet pickled radish for a really simple dish that uses the whole vegetable. Watch the recipe video here and read the full recipe here

Asparagus, mushroom and pea carbonara

Carbonara

This is a vegetarian, springtime version of a classic pasta dish. It’s packed with some of our favourite seasonal veg, asparagus and peas, with mushrooms and cheese bringing umami (savoury) flavour. Simple, tasty, moreish! Read the recipe here.  

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