A new freshness to everything in the market means making dishes to celebrate the season’s leafy greens, sprouting seeds and citruses.
This is a collection of light, simple recipes to celebrate the new season: a wasabi-spiked avocado paste for pan-fried chicken and a quick stir-fry of spring greens. To finish, a startling lemon sorbet with the fizz of sparkling wine.
Chicken with avocado and wasabi cream
Taste the avocado cream as you go, tweaking the amount of wasabi paste to your liking.
For the avocado cream
2 small, ripe avocados
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp wasabi paste, to taste
For the chicken
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 boned chicken legs
50ml dry sherry
2 Tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
To make the avocado cream, halve and stone the avocados, then remove the flesh to a mixing bowl. Roughly crush the avocado with a fork, then stir in the lime juice and the wasabi paste. A teaspoon of paste is a good place to start, but add more if you wish.
To cook the chicken, warm the oil in a frying pan over a moderate heat, then season and add the chicken legs, skin-side down. Let them cook for 6-7 minutes, until the skin is golden, then turn and leave for a further 5-7 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and leave to rest, lightly covered.
Add the sherry, soy and fish sauces and butter to the pan and let them sizzle. Using a wooden spoon, scrape at any chicken juices caramelised on the pan, dissolving them into the sherry. Let the juices bubble for a minute or two until glossy and sticky. Briefly return the rested chicken to the pan, turning over to coat with the cooking juices. Transfer to plates and pour over the juices from the pan. Serve with avocado wasabi cream.
Noodles with greens
Any leafy greens will work here. I found some great spring greens, but a soft-leaved cabbage would be good too. It is worth using the stalks — just slice them thinly and add them a minute or two before the leaves.
6 spring onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
175g spring greens
2 Tbsp groundnut oil
150g fresh egg noodles
1 Tbsp gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
3 tsp dark soy sauce
Coriander leaves from 4 or 5 sprigs
Chop the spring onions (white and the lower part of the green stalk) into thin rounds. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Snap off the leaves of the spring greens, pile them on top of one another, roll them up, then shred into finger-width ribbons.
Heat a wok over a high heat. Pour in the oil, swirl it around the pan, then, as it shimmers and starts to smoke, add the spring onions and garlic. Move them quickly around the pan for a minute or two until they start to soften and colour then add the noodles. As the noodles cook, drop in the shredded greens and stir or toss them around the pan as they cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in the gochujang and soy, add the coriander leaves and continue cooking for a minute or so until all is soft, glossy and sizzling.
Lemon sorbet and prosecco
A simple, sparkling spring dessert. There is no reason why you shouldn’t use a shop-bought sorbet, but it is easy enough to make your own. If using a shop sorbet you will need 500g for 6.
Serves 6 or more
200g white caster sugar
400ml lemon juice (about 6 lemons)
1 bottle prosecco
Put the sugar into a small saucepan, add the water and bring to the boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and set aside to infuse and cool.
Juice the lemons using a reamer or squeezer. You need about 400ml of juice.
When the sugar syrup is thoroughly chilled, stir in the lemon juice. Pour into an ice-cream machine and churn until almost frozen. If you are making it by hand, pour the mixture into a freezer box and place in the freezer for 4 hours. Stir every hour to bring the frozen crystals around the edge to the middle and ensure an even texture. Pack into a plastic container and store in the freezer until needed.
Put six glasses into the freezer. (Don’t use very fine glasses or forget them — they just need to be thoroughly chilled.) Put a scoop of sorbet into each of the chilled glasses, then pour the prosecco over and serve immediately.