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Seven spring vegetables and how to use them

With an abundance of vibrant produce, spring is the perfect time to enjoy seasonal British vegetables. From the glorious pinks of rhubarb and radishes to the snap of fresh asparagus, here are seven seasonal vegetables to tuck into over the coming months.

  1. Rhubarb

    Yes, it is a vegetable! Although treated as a fruit and used mainly in sweet dishes, rhubarb comes from the same family as sorrel. Bright pink forced rhubarb can be available from as early as January, but the main crop signals the proper arrival of spring and adds a splash of colour to both sweet and savoury recipes.

    Try serving with smoked mackerel in this spiced rhubarb salad recipe, keep things traditional with a pretty pink rhubarb crumble for pud or rhubarb cake for afternoon tea. For a way to enjoy rhubarb beyond spring, try making a batch of this sweet, tangy rhubarb and red onion relish to stash in the cupboard.

  2. Spring greens

    Spring by name and by nature, spring greens are the first leafy cabbages of the year. Similar to kale or Chinese leaf cabbages, they have dark, loose leaves and do not have the hard central core of traditional Savoy, white or purple cabbages. Shred the leaves finely and add to soups, stir-fries, pies and more - this lamb and spring green wreath (or vegetarian alternative, a Greek-inspired spanakopita pie) makes a showstopping Easter main, or for fresh, comforting bowl-food, try this zingy broth.

    Spring greens
  3. Purple sprouting broccoli

    At its best until the end of April, this colourful vegetable has long thin stems and dark purple florets. Similar to its green cousins but with a slightly more delicate taste, it adds a splash of colour and crunch to dishes. As a seasonal side dish we love this simple broccoli with parsley butter. It can also hold its own against stronger flavours, such as this Indian-inspired dhal, and benefits from the gentle charring of being roasted, as in this Mediterranean cheese, chorizo and orzo salad. For a special dinner for two, try serving with succulent griddled steak and a sticky mango sauce.

    Purple sprouting broccoli
  4. Cauliflower

    Although comforting cauliflower cheese is a year-round favourite, this knobbly veg is also perfect for brighter spring dishes too. A whole roasted cauliflower is perfect for a vegetarian Sunday lunch, or try cauliflower steaks instead of a meaty dinner. You can even treat it like a grain – blitz it up and serve as cauliflower rice or even try baking into a gluten-free pizza base. 

  5. New potatoes

    Coming into season from April, new potatoes herald in the shift from spring into early summer. Best known are Jersey Royals with their particularly sweet, nutty flavour and characteristic flaky skins. With a firmer texture than large potatoes, these hold their shape well when cooked, such as in a classic potato salad. Don't stop there though – add them to a spicy stir-fry or rich massaman curry and they will soak up all the delicious flavours of the dish as it cooks.

    New potatoes
  6. Radishes

    Coming in late spring, crisp, peppery, vibrant radishes are the perfect addition to seasonal salads but are often overlooked when cooking – try whole roasted radishes as a new Sunday lunch side. For more exotic flavours, use as a crunchy garnish for spicy pork tacos or for added texture in a Hawaiian-inspired poké bowl.

  7. Asparagus

    When the short British asparagus season starts in late spring, it's best to make the most of it! The tender tips are the most prized in recipes and should be cooked al dente – retaining some bite without going limp and lifeless. Hero them on their own as a stunning roasted asparagus side dish or with as a snack with a tangy romesco dip. Equally good in savoury bakes, this crustless asparagus quiche makes a sunny lunch or this one-pot baked green eggs are perfect for brunch.