May In Season

Eat produce when it's at its best.

This months seasonal produce

French beans, asparagus, Jersey royals, peas, spinach and rocket

Garlic

Garlic

Essential the world over, these cloves are the cornerstone of cooking. Clarissa Hyman sizes up this pungent multi-layered vegetable. Recipes by Linda Tubby

It’s a well-known fact that vampires cannot escape from their graves if their mouths are stuffed with garlic and the cloves scattered around their coffins. You’d be pretty unlucky to cross one, though. Such beliefs were popularised in Bram Stoker’s gothic novel Dracula and the myth extends yet further. No-one, however, can offer a definitive explanation as to the connection. One theory is that garlic may act as a repellent against malaria-spreading mosquitos (both suck blood) and garlic makes them less likely to bite. Garlic (Allium sativum) was introduced to the UK by the Romans, although it is thought to have originated in the desert of the Kirghiz people of Central Asia. It was popular throughout the medieval and Elizabethan periods and records show that Glastonbury Abbey was supplied with 80,000 bulbs of garlic a year. It seems a huge amount but bulbs were smaller then....read more

Other seasonal produce

Peas

Now is the time to pop open the pods of this lovely legume, says Clarissa Hyman, who dissects its delights with recipes by Linda Tubby

In England, peas were once a lowly form of food. When the Regency fashionista Beau Brummell was asked if he ever ate vegetables, he is said to have replied laconically, ‘I once ate a pea.’ However, the biggest dilemma with peas is how to eat them. Elegant etiquette collides with functionality:...read more

Peas

Jersey Royals

Clarissa Hyman digs into the past of this delicate spud famed for its creamy, subtle chestnut flavour with recipes by Linda Tubby

Jersey is a singular place, a Channel Isle not even in the Channel, proud of its convoluted constitution and relationship with the Crown, its ancient independence and parish individualities. An island as pretty as a postcard, yet still with an air of suburbia. A little Englander’s dream of social...read more

Jersey Royals

Peas

Fresh, sweet and plump – emerald-green peas are bursting with the taste of spring, says Helen Hokin with recipes by Linda Tubby

The French gourmand Grimod de la Reynière had it right when he called peas ‘the gayest song of the month of May’. At least, that is, as we know them today: glossy, emerald-green, sweet – a reminder that spring is in full swing. But until the 16th century, peas were a different matter...read more

Peas

Asparagus

Once a darling of Victorian dinner parties, these tantalising tips are among our most prized veg, thanks to their subtle class and colour – and are delicious dipped, says Clarissa Hyman with recipes by Linda Tubby

On a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, I learnt an astonishing fact. In the 19th century, asparagus was hugely popular and, as a result, had more specialised utensils devoted to its serving and consumption than any other vegetable. You couldn’t move in a middle-class Victorian...read more

Asparagus

Spinach

This glorious green yields its charms over time – the leafy veg we hate as children is one we can’t live without as adults, says Clarissa Hyman with recipes by Linda Tubby

At a certain point in most people’s lives, a magical transformation occurs. That blind, unreasoning hatred of spinach – you’ve never tasted it, but you just know you loathe it – is transformed, like a pumpkin at midnight, into a vision of joy and beauty. Okay, that might be overstating...read more

Spinach

French beans

Long and lithe, the first French beans of the season bring a flash of emerald green to your table and a welcome crunch to early summer dishes, says Alicia Miller with recipes by Liz Franklin

Phaseolus vulgaris is a decidedly unromantic name that suggests an unremarkable vegetable, but with its long and slender shape, velvety, emerald coat and fine, pointed tip, the French bean is both striking and appealing, and as elegant as they come. How this ubiqutious pod, a favourite of home...read more

French beans

Rocket

Hailed an aphrodisiac by the Romans, rocket was rediscovered as the sexy salad leaf of choice in the Eighties. Clarissa Hyman explains why she loves the peppery plant with recipes by Linda Tubby and Christine Manfield

If sexual intercourse, according to the poet Philip Larkin, began in 1963 then rocket and sexy Italian food were surely creations of the 1980s. Not that either la dolce vita or the spiky green salad leaves were unknown before that time, but until then a seductive dinner for two meant a plate of spag...read more

Rocket

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