Greens for spring may be about as groundbreaking as florals for spring, but with produce prices finally descending from astronomical highs, they’re still worth celebrating.
Cauliflower, broccoli, and – at last – lettuce is affordable again, along with brussels sprouts, the perennially bang-for-buck Asian vegetables, and a veritable garden of herbs. Here’s how to get your five-a-day singing with flavour.
Now that the moral outrage around iceberg is over, we can collectively agree that its cousin, cos (or romaine), is superior in every way. Here, it’s charred and served with a simple tomato and capsicum salsa and a corn relish – the latter calls for urba biber, a dried Turkish pepper, but standard chilli flakes should also suffice.
The lettuce will caramelise on the outside while retaining its satisfying crunch inside. This one will also do well on the barbecue as we head into warmer temperatures.
Brussels sprouts are back! For a variant on the classic roast, try frying them for a few minutes, which imparts the same crispiness while keeping them verdant. This recipe pairs them with the sweet-savory tang of a rice vinegar dressing and a fragrant – though quick – chilli oil.
It’s all laid on a bed of black rice infused with the nutty flavor of white miso – a bit of a project cook that requires an hour of careful attention on the stove. Or just get a rice cooker.
A guaranteed crowd-pleaser, this is Ottolenghi’s take on a vegetarian coronation chicken that – I promise – doesn’t evoke the slimy, yellow morass of its inspiration. Hard-boiled eggs and roasted cauliflower get tossed in a coating of yogurt, mayo, and a very liberal shake (or 20) of the curry powder canister.
And for a lazy lunch, leftovers taste great between bread.
I am once again asking you to stop throwing out your broccoli stems. With some love (and apple cider vinegar), they make the perfect pickles: robust enough they won’t turn to much, while retaining a slightly vegetal, grassy flavor that complements anything sweet, sticky, or – ideally – both. A mandolin will speed things up.
After pickling stems for a few hours, the remaining heads are roughly chopped and deep-fried until almost golden, then slathered in a soy sauce thickened with sugar. Torn basil adds an unconventional – though delicious – pairing to this dish’s Asian-inspired notes.
Another broccoli sensation! This time, the florets are simmered in stock and softened so much they begin to melt into a garlicky, zesty pasta sauce.
Be warned: there are anchovies here to lend a sharpness to the whole affair. If you don’t like anchovies, learn to. (Or, fine, replace them with more parmesan.)
If, like me, you are neurotically type A with a compulsion to upstage everyone in your life, a whole fish should do the trick. Then, with the $2 left in your bank account after purchasing said fish, make a bed of (thankfully cheap) spring vegetables.
The artichoke here will require a bit of peeling, scraping, and scooping, but the recipe makes up for it by coming together in just one oven tray. Serve on its baking dish to widened eyes and pleasant “oohs”, and disown friends who provide neither.
For those with less time, this dish has a shopping list you can hand-write without developing carpal tunnel.
A solo weeknight treat, it involves steaming choy sum, then whipping together an oyster sauce concoction and garlicky, crisped-up peanuts to sprinkle on top. Serve on rice.
Tahini, chickpeas, chilli: you can use them in endless permutations with any number of spring vegetables.
Charred bok choy is a star here, as are young cabbage leaves, which could be substituted with other Asian greens like gai lan (Chinese broccoli), or spinach and kale. They come together with a heaping of black chickpeas – nuttier and firmer than their regular counterparts.
This is a dish I imagine they might have eaten in the Italy episode of Normal People, which is the standard for any “summery side”, as Ottolenghi bills it. (Yes, it’s only spring, but we can manifest.)
Green beans – back to a reasonable price – become a comfort food when stewed with tomatoes. Soft and full of personality, thanks to a cardamom injection, they can be eaten on their own – or with rice, if you like.
Did everyone make disgusting little beverage experiments as a seven-year-old by mixing together every liquid in the pantry? Or was that just a highly specific personal experience I had? Either way, this dessert is like that, except actually tasty (and tested).
A true mad-lib recipe title, it’s a good way to use up all the herbs in the back of your crisper – mint, parsley, basil. Blitz them with frozen pineapple and a sweetener, and pretend you’re on MasterChef when a delightfully fresh sorbet comes out the other end of your ice-cream machine. A fitting end to a spring feast.