Spring celebration lunch
This is a lunch to celebrate the first days of Spring - the days are brightening, leaves are unfurling, birds are singing their hearts out. We should celebrate it all, preferably sitting with eyes screwed up against the low sun, catching up with friends.
I chose these recipes for a Spring celebration because they let the flavours of Spring sing out, but also because every dish is simple to make in advance, and easy to transport to take advantage of the weather.
Hopefully the sun is shining and they can be eaten as a picnic, or a lunch in the garden - blankets on the garden chairs maybe. But if the weather is too chilly for that, they can just as easily be eaten at the kitchen table with the fire on full.
The centre of the meal is a frittata. April and May are the months of increasing light, when hens naturally get back to full egg production and everyone who keeps hens suddenly has too many eggs for their own use. They are also the months when free range hens eat those fresh spring leaves which make their eggs particularly delicious.
Eggs aside, you can vary the ingredients of the frittata according to what you have, it is a great leftover recipe and you can add in beans, broccoli, cheese etc. etc. whatever you have in the fridge.
In the recipe here I used stored potatoes which were just beginning to sprout and soften - perfect for boiling and then cubing - the last of the leeks and vibrant kale leaves, which are beginning to regrow after winter.
With the frittata I’ve suggested serving a carrot and cabbage coleslaw with orange dressing and sunflower seeds - I always have a tub of this in the fridge at this time of year and left overs are brilliant stuffed into sandwiches or even eaten as a mid afternoon snack that feels healthy.
Add in some bread and a fresh green salad and you have a simple feast.
Kale, leek and potato Fritatta
- 6 eggs
- 2 medium potatoes
- 2 rashers of bacon (optional - can be substituted with 50 g feta or completely omitted)
- 1 large leek, sliced
- 20 g butter or oil
- 2 - 3 handfuls of kale, sliced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- pinch salt
You will need a 20 cm frying pan or skillet which will go in an oven.
Feeds 4 with salad and bread as part of a lunch
First prepare all the ingredients.
- Cook potatoes until just tender, leave to cool and chop into 1 cm dice.
- Fry rashers of bacon in frying pan, cool and cut into small pieces.
- Gently cook sliced leek in butter until it is meltingly soft. leave to cool.
- Add kale and 1 tbsp water to a pan and cook until all the water has evaporated. Leave to cool.
Heat the oven to 200 degrees (gas mark 6)
- Crack the eggs and put them in a large bowl, stir in all the other ingredients apart from the oil.
- Heat 3 tbsps oil in the frying pan and add the egg mixture - make sure it covers the base evenly but do not stir.
- After 3-4 minutes the base should be cooked, transfer to the oven for 15 minutes until cooked right through.
- Leave the frittata for half an hour to firm up, and then turn it out onto a plate.
- 2 carrots peeled and grated
- half a small cabbage sliced and chopped into small bits
- 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
- juice of 1 orange
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- pinch of salt
- Mix the carrot and cabbage in a bowl.
- Mix salt and orange juice and leave to dissolve for a few minutes
- Whisk the oil into the orange juice until you get a balanced dressing.
- Stir dressing into the vegetables and then stir in the sunflower seeds just before serving.
Now that my daughters have flown the nest I tend not to bake much - so having friends round is a great opportunity to get the cake tin out. This rhubarb and almond cake is a spring adaptation of a wonderful apple cake in Anja Dunk’s book Strudels, Noodles and Dumplings - I have swapped some of the flour for ground almonds and changed the topping to rhubarb.
Speedy Rhubarb and Almond Cake
- 160 g butter plus 10 g for greasing tin
- 160 g sugar
- 160 g plain flour
- 30 g ground almonds
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 2 sticks of rhubarb
You will need a tin with removable base - 20 - 22 cm
- Preheat oven to 160
- Butter the inside of the tin to stop the cake from sticking
- Melt the butter, stir in the sugar and mix until the sugar is well combined.
- In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and almonds.
- Stir the flour mix into the butter a spoonful at a time, mixing well.
- Beat eggs and then add a little at a time to batter, mix well.
- Pour into tin
- Slice rhubarb into small pieces and scatter over the top of the cake.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until cooked in the middle.
- Cool and then take out of the tin.
I like this served with greek style yoghurt - the slight sharpness goes well with the rhubarb.
The cake is at its best eaten on the same day but will keep a couple of days if wrapped well in foil.
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