|plum blossom from an elderly tree in my backgarden|
Praise the spells and bless the charms,
I found April in my arms.
April golden, April cloudy,
Gracious, cruel, tender, rowdy;
April soft in flowered languor,
April cold with sudden anger,
Ever changing, ever true --
I love April, I love you.
Ogden Nash, 1902-1971
T.S. Elliot called April the "cruellest month", which probably resonates with all cooks in Britain since it is rather lean in terms of seasonal British produce. This is not helped by the strange weather we have experienced over the past few years. God only knows what we have in store over the next few months in terms of unseasonable conditions, since at the moment London and southern parts of England have just experienced a dust cloud of sand blown in from the Sahara!
Stores of British fruit and vegetables are coming to an end and the new crops of vegetables are not up to maximum strength yet. Fortunately spring greens are beginning to appear, such as lettuce and watercress as well as spinach and broccoli, so it’s not all doom and gloom.
A few years ago, I discovered the happy accident of a whole load of wild leeks in my back garden, so I was able to forage close to home, making wild leek pesto and using the leaves and flowers in pasta dishes such as my spaghetti with wild leeks and roasted tomatoes.
If you would like some ideas of interesting things to do with wild shoots and leaves, I can thoroughly recommend a look at The Guardian's Readers' Recipe Swap for leafy inspiration, including my own nettle and hazelnut pesto, as well as ideas for a wild garlic soup from The James' Kitchen, and Carl Legge's nettle gnocchi
No doubt, we shall experience both sunshine and snow over the next few weeks, so as well as foraging for Spring greener, I shall be making delicious warming winter stews as well as satisfying soups. Bring it on!
vegetables, herbs and wild greens:
artichokes (Jerusalem), asparagus, basil, broccoli (purple sprouting), cabbages (various green varieties), carrots, cauliflower, chard, chicory, chives, dandelions, dill, endive, fat hen, greens (spring and winter), hop shoots, jersey royal new potatoes, kale, leeks, lettuces and salad leaves, meadowsweet, mint, morel mushrooms, nettles, onions, parsley, potatoes (main crop), radishes, rosemary, samphire, sea kale, sea spinach, sorrel, spinach, spring onions, watercress, wild chervil (aka cow parsley), wild garlic (ransoms), wild rocket
fruit and nuts:
bramley apples, rhubarb
meat and game:
beef, chicken, pork, rabbit, spring lamb, turkey, wood pigeon
fish and shellfish:
cockles, cod, coley, conger eel, crab (brown and cock), dab, dover sole, haddock, john dory, lemon sole, lobster, mackerel, mussels, oysters, pollack, prawns, salmon (wild), scallops, sea bass, sea trout, shrimp, whelks, whitebait