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The days are getting lighter and the first welcome signs of spring are in the air. Scroll through our pick of March’s key ingredients and take inspiration from our seasonal recipe ideas.
Craving greens after the starchy root vegetables of winter? Look no further than this dark, leafy, cabbage-like brassica. Slipping into the food scene a few years ago and shooting to ‘superfood’ status, kale is packed with nutrients and contains more vitamin C than most other vegetables.
Try kale as the base for a salad or blitz it into smoothies to boost their nutritional value. Its hearty texture lends itself to warming dishes such as soups and stews too, such as this sausage, kale and butter bean one-pot.
2. Purple sprouting broccoli
Joining kale in the family of brassicas, these slender, leafy stems are at their best in March and have a sweet earthiness which pairs well with punchy flavours. Try it steamed and stir through anchovies, chilli and garlic, or pair it with Stilton in this comforting purple sprouting broccoli tagliatelle. As a super side dish for a spring roast, why not try it roasted in a hot oven with a little oil and seasoning?
3. Spring onions
With a similar but milder flavour to onions, spring onions are in fact very young onions that have been picked early in the growing season. Their sweeter taste means they can be eaten raw or cooked, and both the green tops and white bulb are edible.
Commonly found in Asian cuisine, spring onions add crunch and flavour to stir fries as well as crispy duck pancakes. Keep it simple and slice them into salads and slaws or griddle them in this easy but impressive charred spring onion and ricotta tart for a weekend lunch.
Bountiful along Britain’s coastline, succulent mussels are said to be at their peak in months with the letter ‘r’ in their name. They make a sophisticated yet affordable addition to the dinner table, while also bringing a real taste of the seaside.
Dismiss any with damaged shells and make sure the mussels are tightly closed before you cook them; give them a sharp tap and discard any that remain open. Simply steam to perfection with some white wine or give our recipe for mussels with chorizo, almonds and parsley a go for something special. Serve with crusty bread to mop up all the delicious juices.
Related to garlic and onions but with a more subtle, sweeter flavour, the humble leek has a multitude of uses. They’re notoriously dirty so make sure to rinse leeks well to remove any soil nestled in their many layers. For a simple side dish, slice them into discs and soften gently in butter without allowing them to brown. Alternatively, transform leeks into comforting soups, pies and gratins, or for a lighter dish try our bay-steamed salmon with tarragon veg.