Raw power: Mark Hix reveals how to enjoy spring vegetables in their natural form
Don't cook all the goodness out of spring vegetables, says our chef.
Why cook it? Eat it raw – springtime is a great time to experiment with healthy food which hasn't had any of the minerals and nutrients cooked out of it. You can knock up some great and interesting dishes without even turning the cooker on.
Why not try creating a dinner party with your friends where you don't actually cook a single thing? I remember once cooking 10 courses of raw vegetarian food in a friend's house in LA for New Year's Eve and no one even noticed that there wasn't a meat course. As long as you make it visually exciting and tasty, your dinner guests will be happy.
Although you can buy peas, sugar snaps and mangetout all the year round, this is a great spring salad that utilises the whole of the pea family, shoots and all. If you grow peas in your garden you can just snip the shoots and flowers off.
A couple of handfuls of pea shoots
60-70g small peas
60-70g sugar snaps, halved lengthways
60-70g mangetout, shredded
For the dressing
1tbsp Chardonnay or a good-quality white-wine vinegar
2tbsp vegetable or corn oil
2tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
1tsp Dijon or Tewkesbury mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few sprigs of mint, chopped
Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together, leave to infuse for an hour and strain through a fine-meshed sieve. To serve, toss all the ingredients together and garnish with extra torn mint leaves.
Marinaded sea trout, grapefruit and fennel ferns
I have some wild fennel in my garden and the first little bushy ferns that start appearing are in lovely shades of red and green. When I first put this dish together I had a single pink grapefruit in my fruit bowl and experimentally squeezed the juice over the sea trout instead of lemon – it worked a treat with the aniseedy flavour of the fennel.
300-350g sea-trout fillet, skinned and boned
A little sea salt and ground black pepper
The juice of a small grapefruit
A small handful of young fennel ferns
Thinly slice the sea trout vertically on a slight angle and arrange the slices on serving plates. Season, spoon the grapefruit juice over the sea trout and leave for a couple of minutes, then scatter over the fennel ferns.
Asparagus, radish and fennel salad
I love using raw asparagus, thinly shaved, in salads like this, as it has a completely different flavour raw from cooked. You can also use other vegetables in this dish, such as carrots, courgettes or cucumber, to add a nice variety of colours.
You can serve this as a starter, or as an accompaniment to simply grilled or barbecued fish.
6-8 thick asparagus spears with the woody ends trimmed off
1 medium head of fennel, halved and thinly sliced
12-15 large radishes, washed, thinly sliced, leaves reserved for the salad
For the dressing
The juice of a lemon
1tbsp good-quality white-wine vinegar
3tbsp peanut or walnut oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the asparagus on the angle as thinly as possible. Mix all the ingredients together for the dressing; toss the asparagus, fennel, radishes and leaves in it; season. Serve in a sharing bowl.
Raspberries with yogurt and honeycomb
English raspberries are starting to appear on the market now – I like to serve them in as simple a way as possible. Buy the best Greek-style yogurt you can find.
300-350g natural yogurt (mixed with crème fraîche if you wish)
100-150g piece of natural honeycomb
2-3tbsp of the honey from the honeycomb (or use clear honey)
Blend 50-60g of the raspberries or push them through a sieve with the back of a spoon. Cut four nice slices of honeycomb to serve on top and chop the rest. In a bowl, carefully fold the raspberry purée, half of the raspberries, the honey and chopped honeycomb through the yoghurt for a rippled effect, and transfer to serving glasses. Garnish with the rest of the raspberries and sliced honeycomb.
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