Life Eat & Drink Spring into food: the best seasonal ingredients
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Spring into food: the best seasonal ingredients

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It was the late Robin Williams who said, “Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘let’s party!'”.

Indeed that’s how I feel with the sight and smell of blossom heralding the arrival of my favourite season.

We’ve been in our caves over winter and are emerging from our time of quiet and reflection. Spring is the time to spring clean not just our wardrobe and cupboards but our kitchen’s pantry and fridge, and so our bodies.

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Ok, yep, I know. Detox has been overused, misused and abused but clichés are clichés for a reason, and now is the time to detox.

To kick-start spring I’ll drink 2 liters of the following mix for a week to recalibrate mind and body. (And I’ll nix the caffeine too.)

To two litres of water, add 2 cm knob of grated ginger, 2 cm finger of grated turmeric, pinch of cayenne pepper, pinch of cinnamon, juice and zest of three squeezed lemons, a small bunch of mint.

If the taste is too ‘whoa, no way’ and your face screws up like an unexpected tax bill, then add the juice and zest of an orange and a teaspoon of honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar. Allow the flavours to infuse overnight then sip during the day.

Primavera means spring in the romantic languages. Indeed Pasta Primavera, a traditional Italian dish, made with lightly sautéed spring veggies, was my go-to dish when I was a student because it was a cheap option on the menu. It was also a cheap meal and easy to make at home.

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For me, Pasta Primavera is best served with freshly made linguini, generously tangled with asparagus, peas and broad beans, seasoned with salt and pepper and a few shavings of parmesan.

These days I prefer those primavera veggies lightly sautéed in coconut oil. I add a grab of flaked coconut, loads of freshly chopped parsley and mint plus a sprinkling of pine nuts, pumpkin seeds and slivered almonds. It’s lovely on it’s own or on a bed of quinoa. Either way an icy cold prosecco is a wonderful compliment.

Nettles might not seem like an obvious choice, but they're an excellent Spring ingredient. Photo: Shutterstock
Nettles might not seem like an obvious choice, but they’re an excellent Spring ingredient. Photo: Shutterstock

Nettle Soup is also perfect for spring because it’s light and nutritious. Nettles are rich in minerals and contain abundantly more calcium and magnesium than spinach.

Sounds crazy eating stringing nettles – but they taste fantastic. I pick wild nettles from a farm where I know they have not been sprayed with pesticides. Be sure of this before you pick them.

It’s a strange sensation getting stung when you pick them but one I’ve actually grown to enjoy.   Pick nettles when they are dewy or wet. They are less prickly then. Otherwise a pair of gloves and gardening shears works well. Place nettles in a sink full of water to remove grasses and woody stalks before you use them.

GET

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

500g nettles – to fill a large salad bowl

4 cups stock

salt and pepper to taste

coconut cream or crème fraise – optional

DO

Gently sauté garlic, onion, celery and carrot in olive oil until translucent, approximately 15 minutes.

Add stock and bring to a rolling boil.

Plunge nettles into the boiling stock mixture and press down using a wooden spoon so all leaves are completely covered. Add a little more stock if needed.

Cook for two minutes.

Blend.

Season with salt and pepper.

Stir through a dollop of coconut cream or crème fraise.

Serve.

Head to www.flipshelton.com.au to order her cookbook Veg In online.

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