March is the first month of Spring and with it brings many false hopes of new produce along with warmer weather. March for cooks can often be a bleak month as we tire of the root vegetables that have been available through out the winter months and our now slowly diminishing along with other winter produce, while the spring produce is still truly not available. Yet there is some hope with some imported fruit varieties at their best.
Mussels and Scallops are good value in March as they come to the end of the season the quality is not as high but they are excellent in soups such as chowders (see this months recipe for "mussel chowder"), Thai style curries, spicy pasta dishes or deep fried in a light batter or crumbed. Wild Salmon is in season from January to October and is excellent baked or poached whole and served with a traditional hollandaise sauce, accompanied by mint new potatoes or pasta with lime juice and olive oil or try with a dill and creme fraiche dressing, wild salmon is also great prepared as a gravalax. Mackerel comes into season at the end of March and is delicious simply grilled whole or pan fried with its skin on and served with noodles, and a little sweet chilli sauce. John Dory is also good in March try pan frying fillets of John Dory with its skin on in a little olive oil and serve on crushed new potatoes with rocket and a dressing of diced tomatoes, olives, basil, garlic and olive oil. Halibut, witch, large sea bass, monkfish and haddock are all very good in March.
The first month of spring makes many of us think of the beginning of the lamb season but this is a myth as true spring lamb doesn't hit the shops until at least mid spring. Most of the British lamb available is of the mutton variety which is full of flavour and is excellent cooked in casseroles, curries and stews (try our Irish Stew recipe). If you are craving Spring Lamb turn to the New Zealand variety which is still excellent. Porkis traditionally eaten between September to March but now is enjoyed all year round, there are now many low fat cuts of pork available and pork escalopes make a great substitute to veal.
Spring greens from Kent and Cornwall are widely available and are delicious prepared by quick cooking methods such as stir frying. Try Curly Kale in a Japanese Salad by blanching them in boiling water and serving with a dressing of ginger, garlic, soy sauce, chilli flake and rice wine vinegar. Winter Spinach is good in March and is delicious simply washed and cooked in butter or olive oil with plenty of garlic and served with grated nutmeg (see recipe). Purple Sprouting Broccoliis in its last month and is widely available from grocers and supermarkets it is excellent stir fried, blanched and sautéed in olive oil and butter (excellent in a tempura batter, see recipe). Avocadois good in March and makes a delicious warm salad with tomatoes, garlic, walnuts and crispy diced bacon. The first of the British hot house Tomatoes and Cucumbersbecome available at the end of the month, try them together diced with red onion, garlic, lime juice, olive oil, sugar, salt, mint and coriander in a salsa. March is the final month for the many Root Vegetable varieties that have been available through out the cold months, try cooked Beetroot as a flavour for fresh pasta (see this months recipe).
Citrus fruit varieties are still good until the end of March, try Kumquats cured in a liquor of half sugar syrup and half gin or preserve Lemons the Moroccan way by slicing into wedges and salting them (use after a month in couscous and tagine dishes). The best fruit available this month are imported from the tropics, these include pineapple from the Ivory Coast and Bananas from the Windwald Isles. Bananas feature this month in "Banana Fritters" and "Banana Cake". Pineapples are delicious in savoury and sweet dishes, try cooking diced pineapple with rice dishes (see our Thai Pineapple Rice recipe) or try this months dessert for Pineapple in Spiced Rum and Red Wine Syrup. To test for their ripeness smell them and pull out one of the centre leaves, if they come out easily they are ripe.