Blossoms, bright green shoots and the most marvellously fresh produce: yes, spring is here and what better way to celebrate than cooking up a lazy weekend feast with the best of the season’s bounty?
Sometimes referred to as an ‘alligator pear’ due to its shape and the rough skin of some cultivars, the avocado is simultaneously buttery, nutty, fruity and oh-so-good for you.The predominant variety grown in WA, Hass avocados are now plentiful and oozing with flavour and gorgeous texture. Check out the lush produce coming in from Carabooda from the start of August and then from Pemberton as the season moves further south, generally finishing around February and March.
Add thick slices of these curvaceous green fruits to complete a retro prawn cocktail or create some rustic fresh corn fritters with a spicy avocado and coriander salsa. Mash to a smooth paste and combine with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon and a touch of sour cream for a guacamole style sauce that pairs spectacularly with seafood; think warm weather fare such as crayfish, yabbies, prawns and grilled squid.
The abundance of fresh green herbs is a wonderful part of the warmer months and the produce pairings speak for themselves; char-grilled red capsicum with fresh basil, anyone? Try and purchase your herbs loose so you’re able to discard any wilted leaves and stems, or go one better and start your own herb garden. A couple of pots or a wee bit of sunny space in a garden bed and away you go. Once you’ve popped out the back door to pluck a stem of your home grown rosemary to add to dinner there’ll be no looking back. This comes with the added bonus that all your friends will think you exceptionally clever.
Arriving from Albany, make the most of this luscious locally grown spring vegetable during its short season. Thick or thin spears are equally as tender, but it makes sense to buy the same thickness as they will take the same time to cook.
Asparagus works well in Asian or Mediterranean-style recipes, or on its own simply stir fried, steamed or barbecued. Try eating it raw as a delicious alternative.
Who doesn’t love the bliss of devouring a punnet of ripe, locally grown strawberries? Belonging to the rose family, strawberries love a few drops of rosewater to enhance their sublime flavour. Fold into whipped cream and use as a filling for sponge cake or pavlova or take a cue from the Italians and sprinkle strawberries with caster sugar, then drizzle with a little aged balsamic vinegar, light grinding of black pepper and lashings of mascarpone cheese. Unusual, but completely more-ish!
Tiny baby beetroot are now available in bunches and are perfect for roasting or grilling on a barbecue hotplate. Wrap the bulbs in foil with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and grill away!
Dedicated fans of these delightful early-spring vegetables should keep their eyes peeled for these little gems that will soon be making their appearance. The first broad beans of the season are small, however as the season progresses, they become larger and take on starchier, less sweet characteristics. Young tender beans can be cooked and eaten whole, served with butter. Combine broad beans with crisp bacon, rocket leaves and hot sliced Ruby Lou potatoes and drizzle with pesto for a simply delicious main meal salad.
New season dewy-skinned fresh garlic is available from selected stores for a few weeks. Purple garlic is easy to peel, has the taste of real garlic and, best of all, is WA grown. Roast whole bulbs and spread the creamy flesh over crisp golden vegetables or stud a piece of lamb with garlic slivers, to allow the flavour to permeate the meat.
The onion is so often taken for granted, yet it is an essential flavour in cooking. Caramelised onions keep well in the fridge. Simply slice and cook gently with brown sugar and wine or vinegar until caramelised. Add fresh thyme before serving as a side dish or layer into a tart shell with blue cheese and beaten eggs and cook until golden.
It’s spring and definitely time to bring out the trusty barbecue on gorgeous sunny weekends. Field mushrooms provide plenty of juicy flavour for meals. Simply brush with olive oil, add chopped garlic or chilli if you wish, and cook for a few minutes on a heated barbecue plate or frying pan. There’s no need to remove the skin from the mushroom as this is where the earthy flavour comes from. Simply wipe over with a cloth or paper towel.