Spring has now sprung, and with the warmer weather comes a natural craving for lighter, healthier dishes.
But it’s difficult to find the motivation to find and cook new recipes, and using ingredients you’re not familiar with can prove daunting.
To inspire you to try new plates this spring, NationalWorld asked some of the UK’s top chefs what their favourite seasonal recipes are - from delectable lunchtime salads to fresh seafood.
Wild Garlic and Mushroom Tagliatelle
This seasonal recipe from Ryan Blackburn, chef patron of the Michelin-starred Old Stamp House, Ambleside, makes use of wild garlic and is perfect for a light spring dinner.
Wild garlic pesto ingredients:
100g washed and dried wild garlic leaves
50g roasted hazelnuts
100ml olive oil
2 peeled cloves of garlic
Place all the ingredients minus the salt in a blender and blitz to a course paste, season with the salt to taste. Keep in the fridge until required.
100g tagliatelle pasta per person
1 banana shallot
75g seasonal mushrooms per person
Wild garlic pesto
Nutritional yeast flakes
Small wild garlic leaf shoots
Bring a large pot of water to the boil season with 10g of salt per 1 litre of water.
Add the pasta to the water and cook according to the packet instructions.
Finely slice the shallot. Prepare the mushrooms.
In a frying pan add a splash of olive oil and spread the mushrooms in an even layer and cook until golden.
Add the shallot and season with salt.
Drain the cooked pasta and add to the mushrooms.
Add wild garlic pesto to your taste.
Place in a bowl, sprinkle with yeast and garnish with wild garlic shoots.
When you think of a light, tasty seafood dish, mussels always spring to mind. Ideal for warmer weather is this dish by David Underwood, a Cambridge-based chef and founder of Orriss & Son. It serves two to four people and takes 30 minutes to make.
2.5kg mussels, scrubbed and checked for broken or dead ones
330ml cider (dry is best)
1 can white beans (cannellini, flageolet or haricot work best)
½ hispi cabbage, sliced into cm-wide strips
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
25ml extra virgin olive oil
4 slices of good sourdough, cut around 25mm thick
1 bottle of Orriss & Son My Wave Chilli Sauce (available on the website)
Place the prepared mussels in a large bowl and add the cider and the bay leaves.
Strain a can of white beans and rinse briefly. Reserve.
Place a wide pot on the stove and heat (it is important that this has a tight fitting lid!).
Toast the sourdough slices, on a hot chargrill preferably.
When the pot is hot add the olive oil along with the garlic and cabbage.
If they instantly start to fry then add the mussels, cider and bay, covering the pan immediately.
Line one bowl with a colander and another bowl with a fine mesh sieve.
The mussels will now steam under cover. Shake a few times, adding around 100ml of My Wave.
The mussels will not take any more than 2 and a half minutes to cook. They will
start to open and when the majority have, they are ready.
Strain into the colander, capturing all the juices. In turn strain the juices through the fine mesh sieve and add the white beans.
Place the slices of grilled bread in the bottom of large serving bowls.
Spoon the steaming mussels equally between each bowl and pour the Piri-Piri cooking juices and beans over the top.
Serve with more My Wave or a good aioli.
Thai Smoked Haddock Noodle Soup
Thai dishes, flavorsome and light, are great for spring time. Kirsty Scobie and Fenella Renwick, owners of The Seafood Shack - a tiny catering trailer in Ullapool on Scotland’s west coast - recommend this easy yet mouthwatering smoked haddock noodle soup which serves four to six.
1 tbsp vegetable or rapeseed oil
2 white onions, chopped
2 red peppers, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1cm fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 tbsp Thai red curry paste (or more if you like it hot)
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 fish stock cube, crumbled
4 lime leaves
1 lemongrass stalk (give it a bash with the blunt end of your knife)
1 lime, cut in half
a glug of fish sauce
a glug of soy sauce
3 spring onions, sliced
150g rice noodles
4 small smoked haddock fillets
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
Small handful of fresh coriander, chopped
Put your pan on a medium heat and add the oil, onions, red pepper, garlic, ginger, chilli, red Thai paste and tomato purée, then turn the heat to low and cook until the onions have softened, around 10–15 minutes.
Crumble in the fish stock cube and add the lime leaves, lemongrass, lime halves, fish sauce, soy sauce and most of the spring onions (leave some for a garnish).
Give it a hefty grind of black pepper and cook for another five minutes to release the flavours.
Pour about a litre and a half of boiling water into the pan and simmer until the vegetables are soft. Increase the heat to medium.
Put in the rice noodles, cover and cook for a couple of minutes until the noodles are just slightly softened.
Check the smoked haddock fillets for bones and then add them, whole, to the pot along with the coconut milk and coriander.
Simmer until the fish is cooked and the noodles are tender. Finish off with the remaining chopped spring onions.
Burrata with Summer Vegetable Salad and Chickpea Fritters
Taken from Michelin-starred chef Shaun Hill’s book, Salt is Essential, this luxurious burrata recipe, which serves four, is a spring treat. The hot crisp fritters give a contrast of both texture and temperature.
100g peas, fresh or frozen
2 baby artichokes, thinly sliced
100g broad beans, peeled
Zest and juice of lemon, macerated together
A few basil leaves, torn
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 radishes, thinly sliced
A few watercress leaves
250g chickpea (gram) flour
75ml cold water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A large bunch of flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
Oil for frying
Blanch the peas, artichokes and beans. This means drop them into boiling salted water then drain while still fairly crisp and refresh with cold water.
Mix the lemon, basil and olive oil then toss the blanched vegetables in this dressing along with the radishes and watercress leaves.
To make the fritters, stir the flour and water together and season with salt and pepper.
Whisk in a saucepan over a moderate heat until thick.
Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes then stir in the chopped parsley and remove from the heat.
Turn the mixture onto oiled greaseproof or non-stick paper and spread with a flat-bladed or palette knife until 0.5cm thick. When it’s cooled cut into diamond shapes.
Heat the oil and deep fry the fritters, in batches, until crisp.
Season with salt and a few drops of lemon.
Serve by placing 50g burrata per person on cold plates with a small heap of the vegetable salad to one side and some hot fritters.
Banana Bread with Salted Caramel Toffee Sauce
This is a twist on the classic lockdown banana bread recipe from award-winning Noble House Prepared executive chef Owen Sullivan. Perfect for a spring picnic if you fancy a healthier treat.
300g self-raising flour
220g dark muscovado sugar
85g buttermilk (or replace with natural yoghurt, or sour cream)
25g maple syrup
200g caster sugar
50ml of water
100ml double cream
Good pinch of sea salt
Begin by making the salted caramel. Heat a heavy based pot and add the water and sugar.
As the water evaporates the sugar will start to caramelise. When this sugar goes dark brown, carefully add the butter and the cream.
Once incorporated together, add the salt and allow to cool.
Pass through a sieve if you have any lumps, and set to one side to glaze the bread after baking.
Start by baking the bananas in their skins at 180C until blackened.
Ideally in a food mixer, whisk the butter and sugar until light and airy.
Add the eggs and whisk in, then add the syrup, bananas and buttermilk, and mix together to create a lumpy batter-like mixture.
Separately, mix the cinnamon, salt and flour together and sieve into the wet mix, gently folding this together.
Pour mixture into a parchment lined baking tray or tin so the mixture is about 5cm deep and bake at 180C (fan oven) for 5 minutes.
Turn the oven down to 160C and continue to bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Test with a cake tester or small knife. The centre should be firm, but still moist, leaving a little bit of mix on the tester as you check it.
After allowing 5 minutes to cool down, cut off the uneven top of the bread to level.
Place back into the tin or tray that it was baked in so that the bottom is now facing upwards.
Heat up the salted caramel sauce and pour about half of the sauce over the warm cake.
To serve, cut the cake into portions, plate up and drizzle over the rest of the sauce, or serve on the side.
Pea, Feta and Thyme Fritters with Black Garlic Aioli
Fritters consistently pop up on spring recipe lists for a reason. They’re super simple to make while light and healthy enough to enjoy for lunch. These ones, served with black garlic aioli, are from Head Chef John Molloy from The Duke’s Umbrella in Glasgow. Makes 10 fritters.
200g frozen peas, defrosted
1 egg, beaten
Zest of 1/2 lemon
20g picked thyme leaves
50g plain flour
5g mint leaves (1/2 pack), shredded
80g feta cheese, cut into 2cm cubes
Salt and lemon to taste
Lightly pulse the peas in the thermomix till roughly crushed.
In a large bowl place crushed peas, ricotta, eggs, lemon zest and mix.
Add thyme and flour and mix again.
Fold in mint and feta gently.
Portion into quenelles with 2 dessert spoons.
Deep fry for 3-4 mins until golden brown and crispy, and core reaches at least 75C.
Serve 5 fritters with 25ml black garlic aioli and garnish with 1g chive and 1ml extra virgin olive oil.
Black garlic aioli ingredients:
55g pasteurised liquid egg yolk (1/3 carton)
6ml white wine vinegar
6ml lemon juice
100g extra virgin olive oil
100g veg oil
20g black garlic
Put egg yolk in thermomix and set to speed 7.
Slowly add white wine vinegar and lemon juice, then slowly add extra virgin olive oil and veg oil until a thick texture is formed.
Add black garlic.
Season to taste with salt and sugar.
Elderflower-glazed Baby Beetroots with Burrata and Sticky Walnuts
Healthy and delicious is this no-fuss recipe from Michelin-starred chef Simon Hulstone, one of the country’s most decorated chefs. He heads The Elephant in Torquay along with his wife Katy.
1 bunch of baby red beetroot
1 bunch of baby golden beetroot
1 bunch of baby candy beetroot
1 bunch of baby white beetroot
50g walnut halves
100g caster sugar
50ml elderflower cordial
Sliced bread croutons, baked
Selection of micro herbs Italian leaf, red cabbage, rocket
Leaving skins and roots on the beets, cook all separately until tender and then refresh in cold water.
Gently remove the skin and being very careful keep the root tail on.
In a saucepan reduce the elderflower cordial until a shiny glaze is produced, use this to brush the beets and set aside.
Bring the remaining sugar with equal amount of water to a boil and add the walnuts, cook for 5 minutes and then drain.
Once drained, deep fry until crispy and remove and allow to cool, season with sea salt.
To serve arrange the beets on the plate and fill gaps with the walnuts, broken or chopped if
necessary, place the burrata in the middle and finish with the micro herbs and croutons.
Mackerel with Stewed Yorkshire Rhubarb
Nothing is more enjoyable than a mackerel dish on a fresh, spring night. This simple recipe, by head chef Ryan Osborne of the Raithwaite Sandsend Hotel in North Yorkshire, makes for a tasty dinner that’s good for you.
200g Yorkshire rhubarb
50g organic golden caster sugar
3 drops of vanilla essence
5g grated stem ginger
2 mackerel fillets per person
Small handful of wild rocket
Chop the rhubarb into 5cm long pieces, place into a heavy-based pan with all the other ingredients, bring to the boil & turn down to a simmer.
Cook until the rhubarb is soft to the touch but still holding its shape.
Fry the seasoned mackerel in a hot pan with a little local oil, skin side down until golden. Then turn and fry for another minute until cooked.
Garnish with slices of radish and spring rocket.
Stir-fried Asparagus with Ginger, Lime and Cumin
This unusual Indian dish, by chef and food author Anjula Devi, is a really unusual Indian dish with an amazing balance of flavours. It can be made in about 10 minutes.
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
Pinch of red chilli flakes
1 tbs groundnut oil
4 spring onions, chopped finely
1 tsp pulped ginger
2 tbs lime juice
Zest of one lime
1/2 tsp grated jaggery
Sea salt to taste
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped finely
Take a small dry frying pan set on a low heat, add the key spices and gently warm through for 1 minute - remember you just want to tease the spices to release a little of their oils, and rest of their flavours need to be retained to be infused into the asparagus.
Remove from the heat, place in a pestle and mortar, and grind to a fine powder. Set aside.
Heat a wok on a medium to high heat. The wok should be just starting to smoke slightly.
Add the oil which will heat up really quickly, then add the spring onions and ginger. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon.
Add the contents of the pestle and mortar along with jaggery and sea salt to taste, stirring all the time.
Add the asparagus and ensure it is coated well with the other ingredients.
You should then only need 1-2 minutes to stir-fry the asparagus.
Remove from the heat, add the lime juice, lime zest and fresh coriander.
Chicken Saltimbocca with Parma Ham, Parmigiano Reggiano and Sage
Parma ham is a versatile and light spring ingredient which gives incredible flavour to chicken dishes. This delicious and simple recipe from one of the UK’s top chefs Gennaro Contaldo, who taught Jamie Oliver Italian cooking, serves four to six.
2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced to obtain approx 6-8 slices
Parmigiano Reggiano shavings
6-8 slices of parma ham
12-14 sage leaves
A little plain flour for dusting
150ml white wine
Place the chicken slices in between cling film and bash to make them thinner.
Season all over with a little black pepper, top with shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano followed by a slice of prosciutto so the cheese is covered, trim the
slice of prosciutto, if necessary, to fit the chicken.
Place a couple of sage leaves over and secure with toothpicks.
Place some flour on a plate and lightly dust the underneath of the chicken slices.
Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan, add the saltimbocca chicken-side down and cook on a medium heat for a couple of minutes or until sealed.
Turn them over and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Turn them over again, increase the heat to high, add white wine and cook for a minute.
Remove the chicken and place on a serving dish. Add another knob of butter in the pan and cook for about 30 seconds or so until creamy.
Pour the butter sauce over the chicken and serve immediately with some fresh parmesan shavings.