Green light: Skye Gyngell shows how to make the most of fresh spring produce

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

With spring's arrival, fresh, healthy produce is plentiful once again. That's the signal for elegant, simple recipes, says Skye Gyngell

Finally spring is upon us and I could not be more excited. We've been cooking these past few months with fairly limited produce and it's felt restrictive. But our garden at Petersham is beginning to awaken: little lettuce leaves are raising their heads, and tomatoes, spinach, beetroot and rainbow chard have all been planted in preparation for summer. Last week we saw the first of the English asparagus from our suppliers and it won't be long before broad beans and peas appear. In honour of this produce, here are some recipes that showcase its beauty.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627,

Salad of cooked spinach and peas with rocket

I really like the combination of cooked and raw food in salads – it creates different textures. Pea shoots (the leaves of the pea plant) are a lovely addition, tasting almost more of the peas than themselves. I serve this salad as an accompaniment to fish.

Serves 4

250g/8oz peas, podded
200g/7oz young spinach leaves, well rinsed
A handful of rocket
A handful of pea shoots
1tbsp Parmesan, grated
The zest and juice of one lemon
Sea salt and black pepper
80ml/3fl oz olive oil

Heat a well-salted pot of water. Once boiling, add the peas and cook for four minutes. Drain and set aside. Place a separate pan over a medium heat and, when warm, add the well-rinsed spinach – no need to add water – and cook until just wilted. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, squeeze out the water in the spinach using your hands – it is important the spinach is as dry as possible, or the salad will taste watery. Wash and pat dry the rocket and pea shoots and add to the bowl along with the peas and spinach. Season well with Parmesan, lemon zest, salt, pepper and olive oil. Toss together gently with your fingers.

Asparagus with lemon mayonnaise

Spanish asparagus has been available in the shops since mid-January, but I prefer to wait for the English variety; its season runs from early May until the end of June. Here they are served with a simple mayonnaise, whose sharp and unctuous consistency works beautifully with the sweet flavour of spring asparagus.

Serves 4

3 egg yolks
The juice of one lemon
A little sea salt and black pepper
150ml/5fl oz mild extra-virgin olive oil
8 asparagus spears per person

Place the egg yolks into a blender with the lemon juice and a little salt and pepper and combine. Slowly pour the oil through the funnel in the top with the blender running, drip by drip, until it is amalgamated, forming the mayonnaise. Set aside while you cook the asparagus.

Place a large pot of well-salted water on to boil. Snap off the base of the asparagus using your hands. Once the water has reached a rolling boil, drop the asparagus in and cook for two minutes. Drain in a colander and season with a little salt and pepper and a teaspoon or so of olive oil.

Arrange on four plates and place a dollop of the mayonnaise on the side. This is just as good whether it's served warm or at room temperature.

Finely sliced raw artichokes with mint, olive oil and Parmesan

Raw artichokes have a lovely, deliciously clean but nutty taste. The mint adds a fresh top-note here, while the Parmesan's saltiness brings the flavours together.

Serves 4

Allow one artichoke per person
Sea salt and black pepper
40ml/11/2fl oz extra-virgin olive oil
The juice of one lemon
One bunch of mint, leaves only, finely sliced
50g/2oz Parmesan, sliced into fine slivers

Prepare the artichokes by rinsing and gently patting dry. Using a sharp knife, trim off the tough outer leaves. Slice the tops off and, using a teaspoon, scoop out the choke (inner bristles). Place in acidulated water (cold water with a slice of lemon in it) to prevent discolouring if you are not serving immediately.

When ready to serve the salad, remove the artichokes from the water and dry on a clean dish cloth. Slice lengthwise as finely as possible. Arrange on a plate and season with salt and a little black pepper. Drizzle over the olive oil, squeeze over the lemon juice and finish by scattering over the mint and Parmesan. Serve at once.

Suggested Topics
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Manager

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits