Now’s the time to think ahead to the kind of dishes you’ll be making over the next six months – from lighter, fresher soups and tarts to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern-inspired meals – and add to your larder with the spices, seasonings and sauces you’ll need to create them.
For sprinkling and seasoning:
- fennel seeds (an essential if you’re grilling fish on the barbecue)
- coriander seeds (these have a citrusy-minty flavour that’s perfect for summer)
- dukkah and za’atar (both of these Middle Eastern spice and herb blends are great for adding flavour to all sorts of dishes, including simple bread and olive oil. We’ll be sprinkling dukkah onto minted peas on toast at The Provenist this spring)
- pink peppercorns (lighter in taste than black peppercorns, try these ground into summer sauces and rubs)
- pickling spices (I like to keep Steenbergs’ blend on hand for making fresh and crunchy pickles out of spring and summer vegetables)
- infused oils (you can use these all year round, but their flavour will be most noticeable in simpler, fresher summer dishes. Try making your own with olive oil and garlic, rosemary or fresh chillies)
Tins, packets and jars:
- capers (these tiny, salty flower buds are a key ingredient in lots of Italian dishes. We’ll also be using them in a salsa for our beetroot and feta fritters at The Provenist this season)
- chickpeas (useful all year round, but falafel and hummus always feel like especially summery dishes to me)
- pesto (fresh is best, but a good jar of pesto is worth having in the cupboard for when you’re in a pinch. Always try for organic, and if you find that basil pesto is too strong, try one made from cavolo nero or spinach)
- pine nuts (for making that fresh pesto. Choose responsibly sourced pine nuts or substitute them with British-grown walnuts instead)
For your ‘second larder’:
A.k.a. your freezer. Make the most of it this season to capture fresh produce at its very best (such as raspberries and peas that quickly lose their nutrients and texture) and preserve anything you have too much of to use now. We always save fruit – such as chopped-up, tender, pink stems of forced rhubarb in early spring and berries and currants come summer – in ours to use in compotes. And you can also chop up fresh herbs like chives and freeze them in oil in ice cube trays. Just take them out shortly before you serve and add to warm salad bowls and soups.