Put spring on your menu

Food File: Courgette ‘risotto’, asparagus and garlic scrapes to tickle your tastebuds

Food for brighter days: Spanish chickpea and almond stew from 'Eat Happy' by Melissa Hemsley.

Food for brighter days: Spanish chickpea and almond stew from 'Eat Happy' by Melissa Hemsley.

 

Brighter weather brings with it a desire to eat differently – hearty soups, stews and casseroles giving way to something fresher and lighter. Stuck in a cooking rut and unable to see beyond my slow cooker and Le Creuset casserole pots, I found inspiration in an unexpected place recently.

Writing with her sister Jasmine as Hemsley + Hemsley, Melissa Hemsley fell fair and square into the “clean eating” category. But, for 2018, the duo have diverged. Jasmine published a cook book at the start of the year inspired by her explorations of Ayurveda, and Melissa followed with Eat Happy: 30-Minute Feelgood Food (published by Ebury Press, €23).

“Eat Happy: 30-Minute Feelgood Food” (Ebury Press, €23): plenty of tasty, easy, nourishing and thrifty recipes in this book.
'Eat Happy: 30-Minute Feelgood Food' (Ebury Press, €23): plenty of tasty, easy, nourishing and thrifty recipes in this book

Tasty, easy, nourishing and thrifty were the criteria for recipe inclusion in this book, she writes. The salads drew me in – particularly a recipe for hot-smoked trout with beetroot and fennel salad and a Scandi-style dressing – but it was the “bowl food” chapter that I’ve been returning to, for colourful, Spanish chickpea and almond stew; lime and avocado gazpacho; ginger miso sunshine soup, and courgette “risotto” (made with quinoa), with a pesto swirl.

First spears

Cold winter weather and snow has delayed the arrival of Peter and Marita Collier’s eagerly awaited Irish asparagus crop by almost a month. “There’s not a sign of it popping up this year,” Marita said at the end of March. “I checked back, and on March21st last year, I had my first crop.”

This time around, she expects to be cutting her first spears at Drummond House farm in Baltray, Co Louth, around the middle of April.

But there is good news to go with the delay. “The colder it gets, and the longer it stays cold, the sweeter it will be,” she says. With three acres under cultivation for this crop, a sideline to the farm’s massive garlic production, she hopes to harvest three times the 500-700kg she took out of the ground last year, now that the crowns have had a further 12 months to settle.

The majority will be distributed to restaurants by La Rousse Foods, and some will be on sale in selected branches of Dunnes Stores.

Weather has delayed Irish asparagus, but a bumper crop could be on the way.
Weather has delayed Irish asparagus, but a bumper crop could be on the way.

Later in the year (end of May into early June), Dunnes will also be selling Drummond House garlic scapes, the flower bud of the plant which is most often used to make pesto. The scapes will be sold in cellophane wrapped bunches, with three recipes attached, and will be available in more than 100 branches of Dunnes Stores.

‘Food and Power’

The biennial Dublin Gastronomy Symposium 2018 (May 29th and 30th) has “Food and Power” as its theme. More than 50 speakers will address this topic in a variety of ways and the keynote lecture will be given by Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University.

The event, hosted by Dublin Institute of Technology, is open to the public and full access tickets, including meals, are available to purchase at Eventbrite.ie, for €230.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.