May heralds the start of summer proper and some appetite-whetting fresh produce coming into season. Growers are beginning to reap the benefits of preparation work done early in the year
May heralds the start of summer proper and some appetite-whetting fresh produce coming into season. Growers are beginning to reap the benefits of preparation work done early in the year, to harvest a variety of veggies during this month. There’s foraging to be had and some great shellfish in certain parts of Ireland.
Here’s what to look for in food shops and farmer’s markets in May.
Salad leaves are all coming on stream now. Your salad bowl will start to look inviting with a variety of leaves like young rocket, oak leaf and lollo Rossa lettuces. Early summer leeks are divine, with bright green tops, pearly white stems and mild oniony flavour. They are wonderful this time of year as a side dish with lamb, cooked gently in butter with a little water and seasoning.
Spinach is also thriving now. You can get baby spinach but by far the best flavour comes from the slightly larger leaved varieties. Simply strip off any tough stalks and rinse well before wilting in butter with seasoning and a pinch of grated nutmeg or even some dried red chilli flakes. You may also find homegrown Irish asparagus in your local shop or market this month. These tender stems need only the lightest of steaming, then serving with melted butter or a tangy vinaigrette.
We will all breathe a sigh of relief as the first of the new potatoes hit the shops this month. There should be some early Home Guards coming through towards the end of May, signalling the time of plenty is coming! These gorgeous young spuds need nothing more than a quick scrub then steam or boil in salted water till just tender. Get out the butter and seasoning and you’re in heaven! Check out our Vegetable Growers.
We should see the first Irish strawberries arriving this month. The weather hasn’t been great for ripening, but the last couple of weeks of the warmish sun has certainly helped the soft fruit growers. Look for the first strawberries hitting the shelves. Our soft fruit growers are very proud of their summer berries. Check out our Fruit Growers.
Last year, we spoke with Kevin Aherne of Sage Restaurant in Midleton about the foods he likes to forage this time of year. Check out what he told us in our blog 10 Things to Forage in May. You’ll find lots of ideas for combining a beach walk with gathering some wild food from Ireland’s coastal areas.
Combining foraged seashore plants with fresh shellfish gives complementary flavours on the plate. Look out this month for the first crab and lobster of the summer season, especially on the east coast where waters tend to be calmer than in the Atlantic. Places to enjoy great fresh crab dishes in Wexford include Cafe Nutshell in New Ross and La Cote Seafood Restaurant in Wexford Town.
View our Seafood Producers.