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What veg are in season in March

publication date: Mar 10, 2009
author/source: Fiona Beckett
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The period from now till mid-May is a difficult one for the grower and greengrocer - winter veg are petering out while the spring ones haven’t yet got under way. Here’s what you can expect to find in the shops and what to do with it.

Cabbage and spring greens
The two big enemies of cabbage are water and overcooking - the one thing you don’t want to do is boil it to death in a large saucepan of water. Simply remove any damaged outer leaves, cut it in quarters, removing the tough white ‘core’ in the middle and slice it finely. Then you can either stir fry it in a wok with oil, a little water and soy sauce or tip it into a saucepan with about 3 cm boiling water and cook it fast for about 3 minutes, turning it over as you go. Drain it thoroughly, add a good chunk of butter and season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. A small to medium size cabbage will easily serve 4.

You can get a good sized carrot - enough to make a salad - for under 15p which makes it a brilliant student buy. Even organic ones which generally have much more flavour are affordable. Use them raw and freshly grated or just slice them, toss them in a pan with a little oil and melted butter, season them with salt, pepper and a pinch of ground cumin or coriander, add a couple of tablespoons of water, cover the pan with a lid or a piece of foil and let them cook very slowly in their own juices for about 20 minutes. They also make great soup

Don’t be afraid to buy them loose and covered with dirt. The taste is much better than ones that have been washed and prepacked. Just cut off the top half of the green leaves and remove the root and any damaged outer leaves. Cut vertically down the leek almost to the base and wash thoroughly between the leaves with cold running water. Slice the leeks thickly and wash again then cook in a little butter and oil. They also make a terrific soup and are very good in egg and cheese dishes. Try Welsh Rabbit Leeks

Yes, they’re a pain to peel and slice but onions have so much flavour. Add them to any pasta sauce or vegetable bake. Large ones are generally less pungent (and easier to peel) Red or white-skinned ones are the ones to buy if you’re eating them raw in a salad. You can also make a great onion gravy by cooking sliced onions in oil and butter until they go soft and golden, then adding a little sugar and frying them ‘til they go brown. Stir in a tablespoon of flour then add about 225ml stock made with half a beef stock cube or a teaspoon of Marmite or Bovril

Parsnips are one of those veg you learn to love. They have a delicious sweet nutty flavour that’s accentuated by roasting or grilling but they also make really brilliant mash with lashings of butter, cream and a little nutmeg. To prepare them peel off the tough outer skin, quarter them and cut away the central woody core if there is one (You only need to do this with bigger, older parsnips). For honey-glazed parsnips cut them into even sized pieces and cook them in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain them, then put them in an ovenproof dish with a couple of tablespoons of oil and a trickle of runny honey and put them under a medium grill for about 8-10 minutes, turning them half way through. If you have any sesame seeds sprinkle them over the parsnips for the last couple of minutes of the cooking time.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Referred to as PSB in the trade. Looks like thin weedy broccoli but is in fact much prized for its delicate flavour and like all dark greens it’s fantastically good for you. Treat like ordinary broccoli, i.e. stir fry or steam until just tender (about 5 minutes). Don’t cook to a soggy mush. Tastes great with eggs or fish like salmon.


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