Spring has well and truly sprung – the days are getting longer, the weather is getting milder, and the world suddenly seems that little bit brighter. One of spring’s great joys is the sheer amount of incredible seasonal produce available. Many food and wine enthusiasts look forward to classic springtime dishes bursting with flavour and freshness. If you want a taste of spring, consider the following recipe ideas and wine pairing to make the most of this beautiful time of year.
Herb-Crusted Rack Of Lamb
Lamb is synonymous with spring. Every easter dinner table features lamb of some variety, whether it’s in the form of braised lamb chops or Moroccan lamb tagine. However, a herb-crusted rack of lamb truly is a showstopper. Featuring the heady aromas of lemon, parsley, rosemary and thyme, this succulent lamb dish is the ideal pièce de résistance for a springtime feast, best served alongside buttery mash, roasted spring greens, or even garlicky white bean puree. A medium-to-full-bodied Bordeaux red will complement your lamb without overpowering it.
Spring Veg Risotto
During March, April and May, vitamin C-packed spring veggies like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, leek and peas are at their sweetest. Make the most of fresh, seasonal produce by preparing a crisp, spring vegetable risotto. The best way to balance the delicate sweetness of spring veg is with lemon, mint and a healthy glug of Trebbiano Spoletino or any other bright, aromatic white wine. Cut your spring vegetables into similar-sized pieces and add them to your risotto towards the end of the cooking process for a subtle crunch with maximum flavour. Enjoy alongside a chilled glass of your favourite Italian white.
Wild Garlic Pesto
If you’re curious about foraging, wild garlic is an excellent place to start. Relatively foolproof, wild garlic is easily identifiable due to its pungent oniony, garlicky aroma – and it tastes just as good as it smells. You can use wild garlic as an ingredient for soups and salads, although arguably, the best way to enjoy its flavour is by mashing it into a pesto sauce along with grated parmesan, lemon, pine nuts and olive oil. Keep in mind that wild garlic is sometimes mistaken for the highly poisonous lily of the valley, although when in flower, the plants are easily distinguishable from each other. Furthermore, lily of the valley does not have the characteristic scent associated with wild garlic.
Pasta Primavera is another excellent dish for highlighting the fresh, natural sweetness of spring vegetables. While this dish is famous for its rich, creamy sauce with lashings of parmesan cheese, you can swap the heavy cream for crème fraîche and a drizzle of good-quality extra virgin olive oil for a lighter, healthier alternative. For the veg, consider young broad beans, asparagus and any other seasonal vegetables you can get your hands on. Garnish your dish with an assortment of freshly chopped herbs such as basil, mint, parsley and chives. Flavourful pasta dishes like pasta primavera pair well with crisp, acidic wines like Riesling, Soave or Sauvignon Blanc.
Baked Rainbow Trout
Sweet, fresh, aromatic flavours are quintessential of seasonal spring produce, and you can’t get much fresher than perfectly cooked rainbow trout. You can purchase freshly caught rainbow trout at most local fishmongers, although The River Wye in the Derbyshire Peak District is the best location for wild, freshwater trout fishing. Bake your whole, gutted rainbow trout with fresh dill, thyme, salt, pepper and thick slices of lemon for no longer than 20 minutes so it retains its sweet, delicate flavour. Serve your baked trout alongside a fresh green salad, crushed new potatoes and a cool climate white like Chablis.
Pea And Watercress Soup
Soup may seem like a cold-weather dish; however, a light yet comforting soup on a mild spring evening can be truly sublime. Sharp, peppery watercress is the perfect match for sweet green peas – a veg we all have on hand in the freezer. This vibrant, nutritious soup can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes, making it the perfect weekday lunch or dinner. Garnish your delicious soup with another sprinkle of fresh watercress and earthy pea shoots, and serve alongside a thick slab of crusty bread. In terms of wine, a high-quality Burgundy Chardonnay is the ideal accompaniment to light, peppery watercress-based dishes.