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What's in season: May

What's in season: May

by Sally Abé Friday, April 29, 2016

With spring now in full bloom, Sally Abé shows us what we can be doing with peas and broad beans, shines the spotlight on British tomatoes and tells us why it's the perfect month for crab.

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After a five-year stint in the kitchen at two Michelin-starred restaurant, The Ledbury, Sally is now technical food editor at Great British Chefs.

With any luck the April showers are now over and we can really start looking forward to the Great British summer. May sees an abundance of greenery finding its way into the shops, lunchtime soups are replaced by salads and some may even be brave enough to dust off and fire up the barbecue.

If there's one vegetable that truly signals the start of summer, it has to be the humble pea. Sure to brighten up salads and starters alike, peas are a tasty way to get vitamins into your diet and kids will enjoy helping with the podding. For a super simple snack or starter, try Robert Thompson’s Mozzarella with peas, mint and olive oil. Tom Aikens matches seasonal asparagus with peas in his Pea pancake. poached eggs and herb sabayon, or for a stunning main course, try Paul Foster’s Pork belly, pea tartare and onions.

Going hand in hand with peas are the lesser favoured broad beans. As they need to be podded twice before eating, they are often left on the shelf. But don’t let this put you off; try Xavier Boyer’s Crispy poached egg with broad bean salad and smoked bacon or Nuno Mendes’ Charred broad beans with St Jorge cheese and brioche crumbs to see just how delicious they can be.

British Tomato Week runs from 16–22 May, with greenhouse-grown British tomatoes already on supermarket shelves. Try Andy Waters’ Tomato galette with goat’s cheese, tapenade and pumpkin seeds for a simple lunch, please the kids with Marcello Tully’s Tomato mac and cheese or for something a little more special why not try Russell Bateman’s Lobster in vanilla butter with heirloom tomatoes and avocado.

Young lamb is beginning to come down in price now and although there is a limited amount of game at the beginning of summer, British wood pigeons are available year-round and make a tasty alternative to duck and chicken (if a little smaller; you will need one bird per person). Try Will Holland’s Wood pigeon with salsa verde and black pudding beignets or Dominic Chapman’s Wood pigeon salad with a hazelnut dressing and red wine reduction.

 

Crab is at its best in May and will continue to be a great choice right through the summer months, happily pairing with the vegetables coming into season at the same time. Marcus Wareing’s Crab with heritage tomatoes, aged Parmesan and baby basil or Claude Bosi’s elegant Devonshire crab, smoked haddock and Granny Smith apple are both excellent ways to prepare and serve this luxurious shellfish.

Fresh (or green) almonds are not native to the UK, hailing from North Africa and the Middle East, but are worth checking out for their unique creamy flavour and soft texture. The season is very short and they are a little pesky to prepare, but are worth the effort in Paul Welburn’s Roast duck breast and crispy leg croquettes with cherries and Phil Howard’s Poached apricots with honey ice cream.

French cherries have started to ripen and the British varieties won't be too far behind. This sweet juicy fruit can be enjoyed in both savoury and sweet dishes or even cocktails – Paul A Young combines cherry with rich chocolate in his Cherry chocolate cooler and Steven Smith’s Black cherry souffle with cherry ice cream and chocolate sauce is both sumptuous and decadent.

 
 

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