Now that spring is upon us, the days are getting longer, the warm weather is returning, and that means social occasions are on the rise. But what should you cook for a relaxing Sunday barbeque lunch or sit-down dinner party? Here’s our pick of sweet and savoury dishes that celebrate springtime, showcase seasonal produce and are a must for your spring menu.
The great thing about meat is that it is versatile no matter the season, and when it comes to spring, the use of lighter flavour combinations such as lemon, mint and herbs are a must. Spring is best known for sweet spring lamb, delicious poultry, and tender game meats, so for a seasonal meal that will be sure to impress, consider roast chicken with garlic, tarragon and mint, a slow-roasted lamb shoulder with lemon, garlic and rosemary, or a juicy barbeque beef steak paired with a citrus summer salad or a zesty Asian slaw.
Fish is one of the cheapest, fastest, and most versatile ingredients to cook with and in spring, the variety of fish on offer is in abundance. Think crispy-skinned fried salmon, steamed barramundi on the barbeque, an oven-baked ocean trout or a kingfish ceviche. To keep it light and fresh to suit the warmer weather, pair fish with fresh lemon, butter, salt and pepper, or try some Asian flavours such as soy, ginger, sesame, miso and chilli.
Come springtime, we often hear people talk about ‘spring greens’ and ‘spring vegetables’ which typically include asparagus, tender broccoli, beans (broad and green) as well as peas (snow and sugar snap). These green vegetables are a perfect accompaniment alongside any type of meat or fish, but also pair perfectly with pasta, particularly ravioli. Spring vegetables are best steamed or chargrilled and served with lemon zest, a drizzle of lemon juice, olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. These greens can also be lightly blanched then cooled and served in a fresh, crispy salad alongside some juicy beetroot and crisp fennel. For some crunch, add some toasted pine nuts, hazelnuts, or flaked almonds.
The key to a perfect spring dessert is to keep it light and fresh. Fruit is one of the most prominent ingredients in spring desserts, namely berries, oranges, passionfruit, lemon, and lime. When it comes to springtime sweets, think lemon meringue pies, orange cakes, strawberry and cream sponges, and lemon drizzle cakes. If you prefer chocolate in your dessert, then a lighter option is a white chocolate and mango cheesecake. Alternatively, pair milk or dark chocolate with the freshness of mint and whip up a brownie, trifle, or slice.
As the warmer weather settles in, we tend to shift from heavier drinks such as full-bodied red wines and creamy cocktails to lighter whites and refreshing fruitier combinations. This spring, opt for crisp white wines such as sauvignon blends, dry rieslings and prosecco. If you prefer red wine, try a light rosé or a young pinot noir. When it comes to cocktails, think strawberry mint margaritas, Pimm’s, white wine sangria, or a fruity punch. For beer drinkers, swap the heavier malty options for summer ales, IPAs, and light lagers.