March is an ‘in-between’ kind of a month in the kitchen. The vegetables that have sustained us through the winter are just coming out of season and our spring vegetables (peas, cabbage, and radishes) are not ready to be harvested. But this intermediary month doesn’t mean there’s nothing good to eat. March is the season of spring greens – a relative of the cabbage – and purple sprouting broccoli. We also see what I think is one of the most underrated herbs in household cooking: wild garlic.
Wild garlic is a native herb to Britain, but is rarely seen anywhere but the menus of higher-end restaurants. This can give the impression that it is an expensive and hard to use ingredient, but this could not be further from the truth. Wild garlic is as versatile as parsley and makes a great garnish when fried. It is also pretty cheap and can be found in its dried form in some supermarkets or fresh from whole food retailers such as Real Foods. Or, you can get it for free! This herb grows naturally all over the UK and is easily identified and foraged. So, here are three recipes that make the best of what’s available in the month of March.
Chicken and Vegetable Broth
Here is a recipe that utilises both outgoing and incoming produce of the season; it’s an easy to cook recipe, filling and perfect for the long, cold nights of a dying winter. This recipe is ideal to cook and freeze the night before, or to slow cook and have waiting for you when you get home from a hard day’s work or study.
1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
500g chicken thigh or breast
300g small new potatoes
425ml vegetable stock
200g broccoli, cut into small florets
(if you can get purple sprouting broccoli do so, it will add colour and crunch to the dish)
350g spring greens, shredded
140g brussels sprouts
1 bunch of spring onions, sliced
(if you’re trying to make this recipe vegetarian be careful, not all pesto is vegetarian.
A good alternative to shop-bought pesto is to use the Herb Pesto from my January article)
salt and pepper
1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan.
2. Add the onion and gently fry for 5 minutes until softened.
3. Add the chicken, then fry until lightly coloured.
4. Add the potatoes, stock and freshly ground black pepper, then bring to the boil.
Cover, then simmer for 30 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked.
5. Add the broccoli, spring greens, sprouts and spring onions, stir well, then return to the boil.
Cover, then cook for 5 minutes more, stir in the pesto and heat through.
Cod and Mixed Vegetable Teriyaki Stir Fry
The stir fry is fast becoming one of the nation’s favourite foods as it is a quick and healthy method of cooking, ideal for the fast-paced modern world. This stir fry tales some of the best home-grown food and throws in some teriyaki sauce to really lift and compliment the fish in this dish. Any shop bought teriyaki sauce will suffice for this recipe, however, if you want to make your own I would suggest this one.
1½tbsp olive oil
2 onions, thickly sliced
400g spring greens, shredded
2–3 boneless cod fillets, diced into rough cubes or flaked
300g egg noodles (stir in or dried)
8tbsp teriyaki sauce (either home-made or shop-bought)
1. If using dry noodles, heat a pan of water over a medium heat.
Once boiling, add the noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes or until just cooked
(they will finish cooking in the sauce later) drain and then set aside.
(It is at this point that you would make your own teriyaki sauce if you decided against using one that is shop-bought).
2. Heat oil in a wok over a medium heat.
3. Add the onions and spring greens. Stir fry for around 3 minutes or until onions have started to go clear.
4. Add the cod and the teriyaki sauce and fry for around 5 minutes until the fish is cooked all the way through. If using stir in noodles add these now.
Wild Garlic Risotto
I have harped on about wild garlic enough, now it’s time to use it. This risotto shows it off in all its glory using a simple dish that really showcases the underrated greatness of this wonderful herb.
2tbsps olive oil
1 onion, chopped
100g wild or cap mushrooms
250g risotto rice (Arborio)
175ml white wine
700ml vegetable stock
100g wild garlic, crushed
50g parmesan/Italian style hard cheese (optional)
salt and pepper
1. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat.
2. Add the mushrooms and onion, fry for 3–5 minutes or until the onions go clear and the mushrooms begin to colour.
3. Add the risotto rice to the onion mixture and stir well until the rice has mixed in evenly.
4. Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine has been absorbed.
5. Begin adding the stock a bit at a time, enough to just cover the rice, and simmer gently while stirring continuously.
6. Keep topping up the stock as the rice absorbs it, this should take around 15–20 minutes.
7. With the last of the stock, add the wild garlic and the cheese if using.
8. Cook for 1–4 minutes or until the wild garlic has wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
These three simple recipes are healthy, cheap and seasonal. March is very much a month of in-betweens, but spring will soon be upon us and that’s where things start to get more varied again. Next month we will see peas, lettuce and radishes come back into the kitchen!