In season now: rhubarb, bunched beetroot, winter greens

First outdoor rhubarb

Following on from the brief pale forced rhubarb season comes the first more sturdy sticks of the outdoor stuff. Still takes very little time to cook, on a gentle heat or baked so it keeps its shape. Try with fresh or candied ginger (sweeten to taste with syrup from the jar) or with blood orange juice and pared zest. Great with thick yoghurt for breakfast!

 

Beetroot leaves good enough to eat

Don’t discard the leafy stalks from fresh bunches of beetroot. Be a thrifty cook, the stalks and leaves are delicious. Beetroot leaves and stalks taste similar to spinach and chard, and take about the same time to cook as chard.

Cut the stalks from the leaves and wash both well to remove any grit. Chop stalks into 3-4 cm lengths. Fast simmer the stalks for 5 minutes in a little salted water – enough to cover the base of the pan and create some steam – then add the leaves to the pan and put on the lid, whole or chopped as you wish. Steam about another 5 mins.  Lovely eaten warm and dressed with oil and lemon, or a knob of butter. A great side dish for grilled lamb cutlets.