With the spring season comes a bountiful harvest of fresh fruits and veggies we missed during the winter months.
From the creamiest avocados to the sweetest beetroot, crispiest pears and juiciest oranges, this delicious assortment of spring produce make for the tastiest meals.
Why in season is best
When you pick out of season produce, you’re missing out on the opportunity to support local vendors. These goods are more costly compared to year-round and seasonal fruits and veggies because they have been imported from another country. This process requires packaging, shipping and storing the goods in refrigerators and freezers for lengthy periods before it appears in the produce aisle of your supermarket.
If you want to support the local economy, be more eco-friendly and save money, local and seasonal is the way to go.
If you want to get the most out of your food, seasonal is best as they are bursting with vitamins and minerals. Freshly picked off trees and plucked from the ground, local produce is immediately sent to markets and shops whereas imported fruit and veg have a much longer journey to get from farm to table. This is an issue because these foods begin to lose nutrients within 24 hours of being picked.
And, if it’s deliciousness you’re after, in comparison to out-of-season food that is harvested prematurely in order to be exported and supplied to your local stores, crops picked at their height of ripeness are also superior in flavour, texture and size. Research has shown that fruits and vegetables that are allowed to develop naturally on their parent plant, have more nutrients.
What fruit and vegetables are in season in South Africa during Spring?
Apples, avocados, bananas, Cape gooseberries, coconuts, dates, grapefruit, guavas, lemons, naartjies, nectarines, oranges, papaya, pears, prunes, pineapples, sweet melon, strawberries, watermelon.
Artichokes, asparagus, aubergines/brinjal, baby marrows, beetroot, brussels sprouts, kale, mielies, parsnips, red onions, turnips and watercress.
Scrumptious spring recipes to try
When we think of spring, freshness and green come to mind and pesto is the epitome of that. Made using watercress instead of basil, the flavour is pepper with nuttiness from the hazelnuts and richness from the cheese, you could serve the pesto on anything from pasta to sandwiches.
1 bunch of watercress
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tbs lemon juice (optional)
Add the garlic and hazelnuts to a food processor until the consistency is roughly textured.
Add the watercress, and pulse until the mixture has formed a paste.
Add Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.
Pulse until it is well mixed.
Serve drizzled over pasta, salads in sandwiches or as a condiment.
Cauliflower and chicken curry
With a chill still lingering in the air, this hot and hearty chicken and cauliflower curry is the perfect transitional dish as we move from winter to spring. With a rich, creamy gravy seasoned to perfection, you’ll wish to eat it year-round.
4 tsp coconut oil
2 onions finely chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped garlic
Knob of freshly grated ginger
4 chicken breasts sliced into chunks
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
400ml full fat coconut milk
1/2 tube of tomato purée
Salt and pepper to season.
In a large pan, fry the chopped onions in coconut oil over medium heat for 10 minutes and then add the chicken. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the spices, coating the chicken and cook for 2 minutes to release the flavours.
Add the coconut milk and tomato purée and stir in.
Season with salt and pepper to your own taste.
Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened.
Serve with turmeric rice and parsley.
Grapefruit and green olive salad
Citrus freshness, earthy olive oil and a tangy but sweet vinaigrette, this salad is spring in a dish. Served on a bed of leafy green spinach with salty olives, it practically bursts with flavour.
1 cup large green olives, pitted
1 cups baby spinach leaves
1/2 cups microgreens, like mizuna, radish or pea shoots
70g pistachios, roughly chopped
2 tbs Rockabee honey
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup grapefruit juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup olive oil
Cut the ends off the whole grapefruit. Using a sharp knife, cut down between the peel and the flesh of the fruit, following the curve of the fruit to remove the skin. Trim away any stray pith on the exterior fruit. Holding the grapefruit, find the membrane that divides the segmented fruit.
Slice down between each side of the membrane, releasing the slither of flesh from the middle. Be careful not to squeeze the rest of the fruit too hard as you go, so that the other segments stay juicy. When all the segments have been removed, squeeze the remaining juice from the leftover core, and reserve for the vinaigrette.
Remove the stones from the olives and slice them into quarters. Wash the greens and pat dry with clean kitchen paper.
Mix together the honey, vinegar, reserved grapefruit juice, mustard in a glass jar or small bowl. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the olive oil last, and whisk together or place the lid on the glass jar and shake vigorously until emulsified.
Arrange the grapefruit segments on a platter, or shallow bowl with the olives, greens, and microgreens.
Drizzle over half the dressing and sprinkle on pistachio nuts. Leave to infuse for a few minutes before serving.