Each season brings its excitement and pleasures in the kitchen; spring starts with scarcity (The Hungry Gap), then follows with abundance and variety, and what we call the veg new year. Each year, by the time we reach June, a new crop is starting every week. Even after 30 years Guy gets excited by the first broad beans and their symbolism of plenty.
After the last month or two of relying on our French farm and other trusted growers overseas to help us fill boxes and offer variety, our boxes are now bursting with homegrown greenery.
Now’s the time to really embrace a life on the veg and celebrate the wealth of colourful, flavoursome veg, fruit and salad our fields and polytunnels have to offer. Here are 5 recipes to bring the best of the season to life.
CRUSHED BROAD BEAN BRUSCHETTA
A delectable vegetarian starter. If you make this early in the broad bean season, while they’re still small and soft, you can skip the double podding that broad beans usually call for. Two lovely additions: spread your toasted bread with a little fresh ricotta before piling on the beans, or top the crushed beans with crispily fried pancetta or bacon lardons.
SUMMER HAM HOCK HASH WITH CUCUMBER PICKLES
The hash is a tick-list of the summer season. We have included some wet garlic which is, essentially, just young garlic, picked before the cloves fully form. It looks like an oversized spring onion or an undersized leek and only needs a very light cook to mellow any raw pungency. If you are an allium aficionado, you could even add it raw and finely sliced. The cucumbers, quickly pickled, make an ideal condiment to the salty ham hock.
COURGETTE, FENNEL & KOHLRABI SALAD
This fresh, summer salad uses crunchy raw courgettes, fennel and kohlrabi, paired with citrus and spices. The fennel seeds accentuate the fennel bulb’s natural flavour, while the caraway is a good match for the brassica flavour of the kohlrabi. If you don’t have all the spices just use those which you do.
BROAD BEAN FRITTERS
These simple fritters make a good vegetarian main course but you could also serve smaller ones as starters or canapés for a summer party (they can be made in advance and gently warmed through in a low oven). Kids generally love them, particularly the dinky-sized ones.
TOMATO & WHITE BEAN PANZANELLA
At its simplest, a traditional Italian panzanella is a way of turning stale bread into salad by mixing it with tomatoes, vinegar and oil. We’re aping stale bread by drying it in the oven for a while. The tomatoes and oil soak into the bread and revive it. Any extra ingredients are open for debate; try mini cucumbers, broad beans, peppers and whatever else takes your fancy.