As the seasons progress, I will be preparing an in depth cooking and ingredient guide for each. I’ll write about my favourite ingredients as well as the unsung heroes. I’ll go over what I feel are the best techniques to get the most out of these ingredients while respecting the “theme of the season”; as well as a handful of helpful recipes and preparations to expand your knowledge and show off to your friends and family. For now here are some quick guidelines as well as some of the things you can look forward to cooking within each season. Ingredient availability will differ depending on your location and even year to year. This is what I come to expect from the seasons where I live in Malta.
Spring – is one of my favourite seasons as a particularly brisk winter will limit the amount of fresh ingredients you can work with. Spring breathes new life into what you’re capable of putting on the dinner table. Plenty of green ingredients here, lots of shoots and herbs and particularly culinarily consumed flowers will pop up at this time. Dishes during this season include plenty of salads, lighter soups, plenty of veggies and greens, often blanched to preserve their flavour and texture but equally delicious raw or quickly sauteed.
Asparagus, Artichokes, fava beans, peas, spring onions and green garlic, leafy greens, strawberries and loquats
Summer – The heat that summer brings with it also brings about a great deal of flavour. The usual suspects like tomatoes, bell peppers and aubergine come into play (hello, ratatouille) and a bounty of fruit becomes available again. Because of the hot weather, the temperature of dishes starts to cool down. Chilled soups and room temperature salads with grilled meat or fish are abundant. By sourcing quality ingredients in summer you can handle them in very simple ways and let their inherent flavour speak for themselves.
Tomatoes, bell peppers and chilis, corn, aubergine, zucchini and other summer squash, melons, cucumber, peaches and other stone fruit
Autumn – as summer cools down and we make way for autumn we start cooking heartier, warmer dishes. Warmer both in terms of temperature as well the sort of ingredients used like cinnamon or brown butter. We start to forget about our aspirations for the perfect summer body and turn towards more comforting foods. We begin introducing more soups, stews and braises, more filling meals like pies and roasts. Dishes become earthier and stronger as more root vegetables are used and fattier, more spiced food becomes more prevalent.
Apples, pears and quince, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, pumpkin, butternut squash, cauliflower, endiive, beetroot, mushroom, sweet potato
Winter – is often where people will struggle to buy local produce because the variety of options, depending on where you live, can be a lot more limited. Similarly to autumn, dishes in winter are designed to be warming, filling and satisfying. The holiday season also demands plenty more baking out of your oven as well as the heartier braises, stews and soups of autumn. If you are struggling to eat seasonally through winter my first suggestion would be to level up your pantry as this will give you plenty of options to add that wow factor to your food. Additionally, perhaps attempt to try cooking with ingredients outside of your comfort zone. Ever used kohlrabi, jerusalem artichokes or kumquat before?
If you found the tips in this article useful and are hungry to discover more chef secrets you can download my free ebook, Pantry Essentials for Maximum Flavour by clicking here. Stock yourself with these flavour bombs and learn to season like a chef to turn even the most mundane of meals into exceptional ones!
Citrus like lemon, orange, blood orange, tangerine, kumquat and grapefruit, root vegetables like celery root, potato, swede, jerusalem artichokes and parsnips, kohlrabi, fennel, kale and chard