Spring is well underway – and aside from the fact this season marks longer days and warmer weather, it also signals the arrival of delicious fruits and vegetables.
From crunchy radishes and crisp asparagus to vivid green peas and hot pink rhubarb, cooking with spring produce is a great way to look forward to the year ahead, and to remember that life is all about renewal.
Another benefit of cooking with spring produce is that it’s incredibly versatile. While lots of veggies are perfect for crisp, fresh salads, there are also still plenty of warming recipes on the menu, from pastry dishes and comforting soups to warm, indulgent desserts.
So, to get you inspired, here are nine fresh spring recipes that make the most of this season’s produce.
1. Asparagus tart
If any vegetable is synonymous with spring, it’s asparagus. Not only is it delicious, but it’s also extremely high in nutrients while being very low in calories.
Plus, asparagus can improve digestive health and help lower blood pressure – and while simply steaming it and drizzling it with olive oil is incredibly tasty, it pairs perfectly with pastry too.
There are endless variations of asparagus tart, and some recipes are healthier than others. If you’re looking to treat yourself or impress guests, you might want to make a more indulgent asparagus tart – one with double cream, eggs, and gruyère cheese, like this recipe from The Guardian.
But the slender emerald beauty of asparagus is so delicate that you might not want to overpower it. So if you’re looking for a lighter recipe (or you’re vegan, or watching your cholesterol), you could try this recipe from Fit Foodie Nutter, which is low calorie, yet, due to its creamy cashew and tofu filling, still tastes like a treat.
Whatever recipe you make, just remember that if you want to keep that vivid green colour, it’s important to avoid overcooking asparagus – and once cooked, put the stalks straight into an ice bath to ‘shock’ them so they stay crisp and tender!
2. Rhubarb crumble
There are few people in the world who don’t like crumble – and at this time of year, when there’s still a chill in the air, you can’t beat an ionic rhubarb crumble.
While this might not be the prettiest dessert or the most sophisticated, it’s a classic for a reason: it’s delicious, comforting, warming, and makes the most of seasonal rhubarb. Rhubarb is actually a vegetable, not a fruit. Though, it’s the closest thing we have to a fruit that lasts through the long British winter and into spring.
During cooking, rhubarb breaks down and the hard canes turn into a soft filling that, when mixed with flour, thickens and takes on a delightfully chewy consistency.
Rhubarb also has a tangy sour flavour that becomes sweeter with cooking so you shouldn’t need to add too much sugar when making your crumble. Plus, part of rhubarb’s unique appeal is its tart, sweet-yet-sour flavour. To make classic rhubarb crumble, try this recipe by BBC Good Food.
Alternatively, if you don’t fancy crumble, there are many other ways to enjoy this candy-pink piece of produce. Check out The Guardian’s rhubarb recipes for inspiration. Here, you’ll find everything from sweet treats like rhubarb upside-down cake and rhubarb, cardamom, and pistachio tart, to more adventurous savoury recipes, like mackerel with rhubarb, and Asian-inspired sweet-and-sour soup.
3. Fried gnocchi with purple sprouting broccoli
If you like standard broccoli, you’re probably also a fan of its little sister, purple-sprouting broccoli.
This super seasonal brassica is quicker to cook than standard broccoli, and because it doesn’t require chopping up, it’s easier to prepare too. You might just want to trim the stems if they’re a bit dry.
A great way to enjoy purple sprouting broccoli is with gnocchi – and this is another meal that’s very comforting too. Plump pillows of gnocchi are fried in garlic butter until golden, then tossed with purple-sprouting broccoli and cherry tomatoes (optional) that have been roasted until they’re just beginning to burst.
Toasting some pine nuts is a great way to finish this dish, and adding a squeeze of lemon gives it a fresh, spring-like flavour. You can add extra ingredients like ricotta, parmesan, or pancetta if you like – but the mouthwatering combination of garlic, roasted tomatoes, and purple-sprouting broccoli is delicious enough by itself.
To make fried gnocchi with purple sprouting broccoli, try this recipe by Abel + Cole. Remember that the leaves on purple sprouting broccoli can be eaten too!
4. Radish smørrebrød
Crisp red radishes are at their best in spring, yet these lovely root vegetables are often overlooked.
Not only do radishes add vibrant colour to your plate, but they’re also packed with antioxidants, and minerals like calcium and potassium, and their delicate peppery flavour can really elevate a dish.
While radishes are excellent in salads, they also add a satisfying crunch to sandwiches. Though, rather than making your usual go-to sandwich, why not mix it up and make a smørrebrød?
Smørrebrød are beautiful Scandinavian open sandwiches, and while they might look like a culinary art form, they’re also the perfect vehicle for leftovers,
Radishes are commonly used on smørrebrød, and there are several popular recipes. If you fancy some fish, why not make these pickled herring, egg, and radish smørrebrøds, from Outside Oslo? The bold flavour of pickled herring is softened on a blanket of egg mayo, and fresh radish adds a gorgeous contrast in both texture and colour.
Or, you can keep things veggie and make this radish and quark smørrebrød from BBC Good Food. While technically a soft cheese, quark tastes more like thick yoghurt, and it’s perfect with crisp radish on smørrebrød. Add a few drops of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and some grated gruyère – and serve on rye bread for maximum authenticity!
5. Spring minestrone soup with chickpeas
Soup is a winter staple, and the fact that we’re moving into warmer weather doesn’t mean we should put our bowls away!
Soup is healthy, comforting, quick to knock up, and cheap to make. Plus, it’s a great way to use up plenty of fresh seasonal produce.
Spring minestrone soup with chickpeas is a tasty and adaptable recipe that’s perfect for a quick yet satisfying weeknight supper. A seasonal version of the Italian classic, this dish is lighter than the original, yet the inclusion of small pasta like ditalini will fill you up – and chickpeas add extra bulk, fibre, and plant-based protein.
This particular recipe uses seasonal vegetables like asparagus, peas, fennel, and broccoli, but again, you can add whatever veg you have that needs to be used up. Green beans, kale, spinach, or cauliflower would all work really well in this light-yet-hearty soup.
Before serving, top with a generous drizzle of olive oil, some crunchy homemade croutons, and chopped fresh herbs (tarragon adds a delicate aniseed flavour that goes beautifully with the veg). Top with some grated hard cheese or a dollop of sour cream, or keep it vegan by leaving these out.
To make spring minestrone soup with chickpeas, try this recipe from Feasting at Home.
6. Pea and asparagus risotto
If you’re in the mood for some warming comfort food but still want to enjoy some fresh spring veg, why not make a pea and asparagus risotto?
Just like asparagus, peas are packed with nutrients, and they’re a great source of protein too. And if you’ve ever had freshly picked peas, you’ll know they’re far tastier than the frozen ones!
Due to the fact that risotto requires a near-constant presence at the stove, many people see it as a labour of love, but it’s actually really simple to make. While you do have to frequently stir, there’s a certain comfort about the mindless repetition of it all – and of course, the dish itself is the ultimate comfort food!
Plus, risotto is a really versatile dish. Though this version is all about celebrating spring vegetables like peas and asparagus, you can also add in other veggies you have lying around: courgettes, mushrooms, and spinach work well too. And while white wine gives risotto a lovely depth of flavour, you don’t have to use it if you’d prefer not to.
To make spring risotto with asparagus and peas, try this recipe from Once Upon A Chef. If you’re vegetarian, just swap the chicken stock for veggie stock, and substitute the parmesan for a hard cheese without rennet. If you’re vegan, both nutritional yeast and vegan parmesan work really well!
7. Smoked mackerel and beetroot salad
Beetroots are at their best when they grow in the milder weather of spring and autumn, and these colourful root vegetables are extraordinarily healthy.
Packed with essential nutrients like iron, folate, manganese, potassium, and vitamin C, beetroots are also an excellent source of fibre. Plus, they’re linked to improved blood flow, lower blood pressure, and better exercise performance.
Sweet, earthy beetroot goes beautifully with smoked mackerel, which is also known for its health benefits. Rich in brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids, mackerel is also high in protein, vitamins, and minerals – and its smoky, salty, oily taste is the perfect addition to a fresh beetroot salad.
Smoked mackerel and beetroot salad makes a healthy, vibrant lunch or a tasty light dinner. Smoked mackerel is generally quite inexpensive, and most supermarkets sell own-brand smoked peppered mackerel fillets, which are ideal for this dish.
This recipe from Tesco adds horseradish, which perfectly cuts through the oiliness of the fish, and green, puy, or brown lentils, for extra protein and fibre. For a more filling version, you can also add new potatoes – which are also in season right now – and radish adds a welcome fresh crunch to this salad too!
8. Leek, pea, and watercress soup
British leeks are at their best from winter through to spring, and they go beautifully with two other seasonal vegetables – peas and watercress.
Leeks are high in antioxidants and very versatile. They’re great in pies and tarts, stews and casseroles, and pasta and risotto. But they’re also a staple in soups – and leek, pea and watercress soup is a fabulous dish to make in spring.
This vibrant green soup is tasty, healthy, and very low in calories and fat, so it’s a great choice if you’re watching your weight. It’s also a simple yet impressive starter for a dinner party.
The great thing about this soup is that when leeks go out of season, you can make a more summery alternative, with just peas and watercress. Creamy yet peppery watercress pairs perfectly with sweet peas – and this soup is great served hot or chilled, which makes it even more versatile, and well suited for warmer days.
Once you’ve cooked your soup, add some lemon juice and zest to add a zingy twist. Then, ladle into bowls and top with chopped parsley, a few fronds of watercress, and a drizzle of olive oil. Stir through some sour cream or crème fraîche – or a dairy-free alternative – and serve with some optional crusty bread.
To make leek, pea and watercress soup, try this recipe from BBC Good Food.
9. Stir-fried spring greens with spring onions
Spring greens are sometimes confused with other seasonal leafy greens, but they’re a vegetable in their own right.
Part of the brassica family, spring greens have prodigious health benefits. They’re packed with immune system-boosting vitamin C; vitamin K, which builds bone strength; and have anti-inflammatory properties too.
Though they look somewhat like cos lettuce, spring greens are a type of cabbage. However, they’re far more fragile than round cabbages, and once they’re chopped and cooked, they break down into silky-soft tendrils. Sweeter, lighter, and fresher than normal cabbage, they’re perfect for spring cooking.
Spring greens are perfect for stir-frying, and when you pair them with spring onions, which gives the dish a lovely tangy taste, you get a perfect and quick seasonal dinner! Cooking spring greens with garlic brings out the flavour, and drizzling over olive oil and lemon is the perfect accompaniment.
Stir-fried spring greens are very adaptable and can be enjoyed in so many ways. For example, you can serve them as a side dish with roast chicken or stir through pasta. You could also enjoy them alongside some grilled salmon or sausages and mash; or use as part of a bigger stir-fry, with noodles or rice and a choice of protein, like tofu or chicken.
To make stir-fried spring greens with spring onions, try this recipe from The Veg Space.
Spring is a transitional time of year when the days can be equally bright and sunny as cold and wet. That’s why it’s important for spring recipes to offer plenty of variety, so you can choose cosy warm dishes for chilly, windy days, and fresh, cool dishes for warm, sunny days.
The great thing about spring produce is that it’s very versatile. From comforting dishes like pea risotto, purple sprouting broccoli gnocchi, and warming soups, to light, rejuvenating dishes like radish smørrebrød and smoked mackerel and beetroot salad, there’s a spring recipe out there for everyone.
For more culinary inspiration, check out the food and drink section of our website, where you’ll find everything from money-saving recipes to recipes from all over the world.