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March is a great season in Northern Irelnd for some of our favourite fruit and vegetables such as rhubarb, purple sprouting broccoli and wild garlic.
I love to eat the seasons and I have broad beans which I sowed in autumn just starting to shoot up, the green shoots of garlic look promising and the rhubarb is slowly making an appearance.
If you’re interested in eating seasonally, I have a number of cooking and baking classes that celebrate all that’s good throughout the year.
As the days get longer and the sun starts to feel a bit warmer the garden is slowly coming back to life. So, what’s in season this March?
Look out also for the beautiful bright pink forced rhubarb that comes from Yorkshire and is the first to appear.
I love rhubarb, I know it is not technically a fruit but still for me it signals the first of the many lovely seasonal fruits to come. Rhubarb is very versatile and works well for baking, from cakes to muffins, the classic tart not to mention ice cream, sorbet, trifle and Jam it lends itself to lots of recipes and I love to use it in the cookery school in my Spring baking classes.
My father always had a vigorous patch of rhubarb growing in an unkempt patch beside his glasshouse, which was used solely for growing tomatoes. Sweet, delicious tomatoes straight from the vine.
The rhubarb generally would be used to make a classic rhubarb tart with a sweet, buttery shortcrust pastry and inside a pile of rhubarb and some caster sugar which all cooked down to a sweet and tangy delicious filling. Ideally served with a little pouring cream. The other option was rhubarb and custard, also a firm favourite.
Elsewhere you should be able to find purple sprouting broccoli. Simply trim the stalks and cut in half any large stalks, wash well and cook in boiling salted water just until tender. It’s key to not add the broccoli to the water until it is boiling rapidly, that way you keep the fresh green colour and flavour. Then drain well and drizzle liberally with a really good extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon if you like.
If you’re lucky you might find some wild garlic, I’ve only ever seen it growing wild in two places, Peatlands park on the very outer edges which also happens to be one of the few places around here where you can still hear the cuckoo in Spring and the other was outside Newcastle Co.Down where it was growing on the banks of a beautiful river alongside bluebells.
A spot untouched. Wild garlic makes a delicious soup and is great for pesto to bring a taste of Spring to your plate. This is it growing in the picture taken by the river in Newcastle, at the front with the delicate white flowers and broad green leaves. It is recognisable by its distinct garlicky smell even from a distance.
The staples such as leeks, cauliflower, parsnips, carrots and beetroot are all great too. And Cavolo Nero if you can get hold of it is one of my favourite staples at this time of year and I use it every week in a minestrone soup.
At Wee Buns Cookery School we run a number of seasonal cooking and baking classes from Autumnal Baking classes to Easter Baking and Christmas Cooking Classes. Find out more on the classes section of the website.