Season's best

May brings a marvellously bountiful crop of beautiful British produce. From nutty asparagus and buttery Jersey Royals, to crisp iceberg lettuce and versatile spinach, there are loads of lovely ingredients to take advantage of.

Highly prized British asparagus has a distinctively savoury favour. A member of the allium family, it has a short season that runs from the middle of April to late June. It’s a good source of folate and vitamin K, as well as being a source of vitamin C. Store bundled stems in the fridge in damp kitchen towel to keep them fresh for longer.

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Also in season...

Iceberg lettuce

Iceberg lettuce

Crisp,cool and sweet, iceberg lettuce is a classic addition to salads. Iceberg lettuce is low in calories – 100g contains just 24 calories. Although usually eaten raw, lettuce is delicious cooked: try pan-frying leaves with garlic and soy sauce for an Asian-inspired side.

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Although spinach grows year-round, the spring crop is unrivalled for its delicate, sweet-tasting leaves. Baby spinach is tender enough to eat raw, while more mature leaves benefit from cooking. To prepare, wash thoroughly and pat dry. Bear in mind that the quantity will reduce significantly once cooked, so use more than you think you need. This versatile green leaf can be sautéed, steamed, blanched or eaten raw. Add to smoothies, or wilt with a little cream and some freshly grated nutmeg for the perfect side. 

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Also known as eggplant, this purple-skinned veg is a staple of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. Choose firm aubergines with glossy skins and bright green stems. Its mellow flavour goes well with olive oil, lemon and garlic. Grill whole until blackened, then mix the smoky flesh with the above for a tasty dip.

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Grown in sunny Costa Rica, this sweet-sour tropical fruit has yellow flesh protected by a spiky skin. It might surprise you to learn that pineapples grow on leafy plants, close to the ground – not on trees. To prep, cut off the leafy crown, then trim the skin from top to bottom. Cut diagonal v-shaped grooves to remove the 'eyes', then slice into quarters and remove the tough core. Slice or chop the flesh ready for eating. Fresh pineapple works well in sweet and savoury recipes. Try it in a spicy salsa, tropical pavlova or a cocktail.

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Jersey Royals

Jersey Royals

Their sweet, buttery flavour and papery skins make these new potatoes a UK favourite. They're available in store from late April until mid June. They can only be called Jersey Royals if they're grown on Jersey. They’re a great source of complex carbohydrates, which are vital for growth and development, and are the body’s main source of energy. Try them roasted, then tossed with pesto, bacon, olives and Camembert; bake until the cheese begins to melt.

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