Yemi’s Food Stories: embracing spring by celebrating seasonal produce
Last updated Mar 15, 2024

Yemi Adelekan is a food writer and blogger who was a semi-finalist in the 2022 series of BBC TV’s Masterchef competition.

Every Saturday Yemi writes on the Stray Ferret about her love of the area’s food and shares cooking tips – please get in touch with her if you want her to review a restaurant, visit your farm, taste the produce you sell or even share a recipe.

As the chill of winter begins to fade and the promise of spring fills the air, it’s time to welcome more sunlight. March marks the transition from winter to spring, bringing forth a variety of fresh produce bursting with flavour.

Many crops reach their peak in May but there are some goodies that start to make their appearance in March, from tender greens to earthy root vegetables.

I love the month of March with its many highlights including International Women’s Day, Mother’s Day – and of course my birthday – so I am always thinking about what to cook to celebrate these events.

Seasonal cooking is championed by many chefs around the world because it is what nature intended, saves the planet with reduction in food transportation and reduces the use of chemicals to preserve food.

Seasonal cooking is championed by many chefs around the world

Embracing seasonal eating allows us to connect with nature’s rhythms and enjoy the fullness of each ingredient’s flavour and nutritional benefits.

I believe in harnessing the flavours of the season to create vibrant dishes that not only tantalise the taste buds but also uplift the spirit.

Create vibrant dishes with spring fruit and vegetables

The main fruit in season in March is rhubarb which is a beautiful ingredient.

I am not the biggest fan of stewed fruits because of the change in texture, but there are many wonderful ways to use rhubarb from making a jam to add to your porridge, chutney, gel and sweet and savoury sauces.

Vegetables available in March include cabbage – savoy and spring green, cauliflower, celeriac, chicory, jerusalem artichoke, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, parsnips, potatoes, purple sprouting broccoli, salsify, shallots and swede.

Kale can be a bland vegetable if we don’t find ways to elevate it

They make this a great month for recipes that celebrate root vegetables in sweet and savoury dishes. Roasted celeriac and jerusalem artichoke work as well in ice creams as they do served with roast lamb or fish.

Celebrate the month of March

March is that delicate period between winter blues and spring hopes so soups are still a welcome sight. One of my favourite soups is made from roasted parsnips, scotch bonnet or habanero pepper (to taste), garlic, shallots, seasoned with curry powder and finished with a squeeze of lemon.

This nutritious soup is a balance of creaminess and sweetness of the parsnips, spice from the pepper and curry powder and tartness from the lemon juice. I adjust the heat depending on the weather.

It’s also wild garlic season which means wild garlic butter on sourdough toast can go with any soups you make.

Kale can be a bland vegetable if you don’t find ways to elevate it, but there is a simple that can transform it into a standalone dish that can hold its own.

It is based on a Nigerian recipe called ‘Efo riro’ which means vegetables sautéed in a red sauce. Typically you would use spinach, meat, and seafood in the recipe, but kale is an excellent replacement.

Yemi’s recipe

  • Three large red bell peppers.
  • Two scotch bonnet, habanero, chipotle or any type of chilli you like.
  • One small onion.
  • 30 – 45ml of rapeseed oil
  • 1 bouillon cube (optional).
  • Salt to taste.
  • 650 g sliced kale – remove hard stalks and blanch to soften it; squeeze out excess water.
  • 1 medium onion – diced.
  • Optional ingredients – smoked mackerel, pre-cooked meat or fish.

You can add pre-cooked fish or meat to make the dish more substantial and flavourful


  • Blend the bell peppers, scotch bonnet, and small onion, then set aside.
  • Dice your medium onion.
  • Heat the oil and fry the diced onion until golden brown.
  • Add the blended peppers and fry until the sauce thickens up. It can take up to 15 minutes, and you must stir constantly to prevent burning.
  • Add the bouillon cube if using, and salt to taste.
  • Stir until everything is well blended. Alternatively, add some homemade stock but bring to a simmer to reduce it down.
  • Add precooked meat and fish, if you’re making a non-vegetarian version.
  • Finally, add the kale and mix well; cook uncovered for about two to five minutes.
  • Check and adjust seasoning, if required.
  • For a vegetarian dish, serve this as a side with potatoes, rice, quinoa or couscous.
  • For fish or meat eaters, add pre-cooked fish or meat to make it more substantial and flavourful, such as pan fried sea bass or salmon.

Read more:

Download the FREE Stray Ferret app here to access the latest news, competitions and offers.