Although we are now in Spring meteorologically, it’s still been a tad chilly out and about and it’s not really feeling like Spring just yet. But the food that’s seasonal at this time of year isn’t changing. As it’s not quite warm enough to be heading out and enjoying the Spring weather yet, stay in and make the most of March produce with our array of recipes for some lovely hearty meals to stave off the chill that’s lingering.
Hearty Mussel Soup
This rich and warming recipe is the perfect way to make the most of mussels at their best whilst warming you up when those nights are still rather chilly.
“Make time for some hearty spring recipes that make the most of spring produce.”
- 1kg mussels in shells, scrubbed
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 leeks, thinly sliced
- 3 celery sticks, thinly sliced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 400g potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 900ml (1 ½ pints) vegetable stock
- 150ml dry white wine
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme
- 4 tbsp chopped parsley
- 2 tbsp snipped fresh chives
- Salt and pepper
1. Prepare the mussels: discard any broken shells or shells that do not close when tapped. Put the wet mussels into a clean saucepan and cover tightly. Cook over medium heat for 4 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Check that the mussels have opened – if not, cover and cook for a further 1-2 minutes. Drain the mussels, reserving the juices that have come from the shells. Reserve a few mussels in their shells for garnish; remove the remainder from their shells and set aside. Discard the shells and any unopened mussels.
2. Heat the oil in the rinsed-out saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, leeks, celery and carrots and cook gently for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Add the potatoes, stock, wine, reserved juices from the mussels, lemon juice, bay leaf, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan and simmer the soup gently for 20-30 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.
3. Remove the bay leaf and thyme, then add the shelled mussels, parsley and chives to the pan. Heat gently for about 1 minutes. Do not allow the soup to boil or cook for any longer than this or the mussels will become tough and shrink.
4. Ladel the soup into warm bowls and garnish with the reserved mussels in shells. Serve at once, while piping hot.
Quick Venison Sausage, Kale and Red Wine Casserole
This hearty stew with rich venison is a crowd-pleasing luxurious take on a classic casserole.
- 400g venison sausages
- 1 red onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 150g button mushroom
- 2 stalks rosemary
- 200ml red wine
- 200ml beef stock
- 1 tbsp redcurrent jelly
- 1 tsp English mustard
- 1 tsp cornflour
- 2 large handfuls chopped kale
1. Heat a glug of olive oil in a large casserole pan and add the sausages. Brown well on all sides.
2. While the sausages are browning, peel and slice the red onion and the garlic. Then, when the sausages are coloured all over, add to the pan along with the button mushrooms. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened. Add a little more oil if needed.
3. Pour in the red wine and stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Finely chop the rosemary leaves and add to the pan along with the redcurrent jelly and mustard. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes.
4. In a small cup mix a little water into the corn flour to form a lump-free paste and stir into the sauce.
5. Roughly chop the kale leaves into thick ribbons and add to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes until leaves have wilted. Taste to check the seasoning and serve.
Blood Orange Tart
It may not be something you realise is at its best in March but blood oranges are sweet and acidic and give an unexpected richness to this dish. With cream or custard it’s the perfect dessert.
- 200g/7oz sugar, plus extra for dusting
- 3 blood oranges, juice and zest
- 1 tsp orange blossom water
- 2 free-range eggs, plus 6 yolks
- 200g/7oz butter, cubed
- 25cm/10in sweetened shortcrust pastry tart shell, blind baked (ready-made is fine)
- 3 blood oranges, peeled, sliced into rounds
- 1 tbsp demerara sugar
- Double cream or custard to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4
2. Whisk the sugar, orange juice and zest, orange blossom water, eggs and egg yolks together in a bowl until well combined.
3. Add the butter and set over a pan over simmering water. (Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water).
4. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring regularly, until the butter has melted and the mixture has thickened.
5. Pour the mixture into the cooked pastry case, cover with clingfilm (to prevent a skin forming) and set aside to cool.
6. Arrange the orange slices on the cooled tart and sprinkle over the demerara sugar.
7. Using a cook’s blowtorch, heat the sugar until caremalised.
8. To serve, slice the tart and serve with double cream or custard.