National Vegetarian Week runs from 15-21 May this year. A call to consider bringing more veg into your diet and make scratch cooking with plants part of your daily routine.
Here are some ideas for how to achieve that noble aim while keeping things seasonal in, what is known in farming circles as, the UK hungry gap – the span of about a month and a half where the winter crops slow and the spring crops haven’t yet fully sprung.
Fear not, there are a few iconic outriders of the coming season. Those pioneer plants that allow you to keep things both tasty and timely.
The UK season has just begun. Iconic, highly prized and a pain to grow. There is a reason it commands such a price. All the better organically grown with care and free from too much intervention. Plenty of recipes just pair the spears with a dip or dressing but it is possible to add them into a meal without crowding out their distinctive character. This spring version of a minestrone lets the veg sing over the protein heavy bass notes of cannellini beans. For the full recipe click here.
New potatoes, radish and bean salad
These adolescent spuds are lifted from the loam before their skin has barely had a chance to set. Delicate, tender and sweet. Do they represent our impatience or our discerning taste? Either way, defy the spring showers and try them in a warm salad alongside the first of the year’s radishes, plenty of green herbs and some just-boiled eggs. Click here for the recipe.
Spinach and chickpea veggie sausage roll
Bursting into fine green leaf at the same time as the hedgerows, May is the start of the summer season for spinach, chard and summer greens. Use it as a flash of green in this veggie sausage roll, where blanching, cooling and chopping helps to lock in the green colour before adding it to the mix. Perfect for the lunch box or the picnic table. Find the recipe here.
Pak choi and scrambled tofu
Still seen as somewhat exotic, pak choi grows handsomely in our climate and offers the succour of succulent greens that can be cooked in a flash. This is a fast and fiery dish with plenty Asian-style flavours and a plenty of protein from the tofu. Click here for the recipe.
Rhubarb and ginger cake
This trifid-like perennial veg is most at home as an honorary member of the fruit family. The raw sharpness and astringency are easily tempered by a little heat and sweetness. This cake balances that tartness with the gentle spice of ginger and toffee-like brown sugar. Serve it warm for pud with a little cream or custard, or cold with a cuppa for elevenses. Find the recipe here.