March seasonal update

The  Staff Canteen


From seasonal vegetables to game and seasonal fruits, read our market report to decide which ingredients to feature on your menus this month 

A scent of spring is in the air and wild nettles are in season

Chefs love to forage, and nettles are one of the UK's most prolific wild plants. They start appearing mid February and grow through spring and summer; they are easy to locate, cook, and they are highly versatile. 

Despite their slightly prickly leaves, nettles make a great substitute for basil in pestos and salsas, or, like chef Rheberson Britto, can be reduced into a glaze to accompany fish

Classics are classics for a reason - and Tommy Banks' take on nettle soup is a vast improvement on the one his nan used to eat during WWII. 

Koppert Cress suggests pairing wild nettles with affilla cress. Characterised by its highly unusual and
decorative shape, affilla cress is related to the sugar pea, and its sweet taste does well in combinations with
bitter and tangy dishes - thus being the perfect complement to nettle soup. 

Cooking with blood oranges 

One of the more visually striking of the citrus family, blood oranges sadly don't grow in the UK, but flourish in temperate climates of the Mediterranean. Their sweet flavour and bright colour make them the ideal candidates for cutting into "supremes," or sections with the outer piff removed.

The most common varieties of blood orange are Moro, a deep red, slightly bitter orange; Ruby, (which, despite its name, isn't very red), Sanguinello, which is sweet, has few seeds anbd and bears red streaks; and Tarocco, which are very sweet and easy to peel, but are inconsistent in colour.

Koppert Cress suggests pairing blood oranges with aclla cress. Originally from peru, where it is often used in ceviche, it has a a fresh, citrusy flavour which makes it a good match for blood oranges. 

Alex Claridge at The Wilderness makes a blood orange mille feuille, combining layers of caramelised filo pastry with yogurt, miso crémeux and blood orange three ways. 

Scott Goss, meanwhile, developed a recipe for vanilla panna cotta with blood orange ice and blood orange ketchup.

Finally, Arnaud Stevens takes it down a more savoury route, making a blood orange and clove espuma to go with Atlantic hake, cured ham, sardelaise potato and artichoke puree

whitebait - how to cook it, recipe ideas and more 

Whitebait – very small fish cooked and eaten whole – is recognised all over the world, but is applied to different species reflecting what is available locally. In most of Europe, whitebait are young sprats, the small cousin of the herring. 

For whitebait, the immediately obvious issue is sustainability, as sourcing large quantities of immature fish, which have never spawned, without hurting the biomass, seems like a challenge. 

And indeed, in many regions of the world whitebait fishing has dried up due to excessive fishing pressure, but European whitebait is of little concern when it comes to sustainability ratings. From January 2019, the Marine Conservation Society rated the Baltic Sea stock as sustainable.

The classic method of cooking whitebait - that is, battering and deep frying them - calls for little alteration.

However, Tony Flemming adds a touch of smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and mustard powder to his coating, and serves them with a classic tartare sauce.

Chef Dom Chapman's whitebait

Rejoice, for leeks are in season in March with young leeks and saffron sauce.jpegThe Welsh national emblem is as versatile as it is prolific. An ancient crop, native to eastern Mediterranean lands and the Middle East, the leek is part of the allium family, along with garlic, wild garlic and onions.

Koppert Cress suggests that you pair it with bean blossom, a small, decorative purple flower with a sweet bean-like flavour and crispiness at its heart. This legume is one of the oldest crops still cultivated today. It is a crop that has been cultivated in India since ancient time.

As well as leeks, the legume flower pairs well with summer vegetables, dishes made with fruits and herbs, and vegetarian dishes.

Try Lisa Goodwin Allen’s wild Seabass with young garden leeks, charred Lettuce, and Iron Cross oxalis.  Chad Byrne makes cod with young leeks and saffron sauce, and Nick Tulip pairs young leeks with pan-fried cod, celeriac puree, mustard & cheese crumb.

Watch Michelin starred create ember cooked Leek, dried reindeer: 

red mullet nasturtium saladRed mullet - when can you find it and how to know when it's fresh 


Red mullet – or goatfish - used to only be found in Mediterranean and tropical climates at this time of year, but warmer sea temperatures mean it can be fished in British waters too.

To ensure it is fresh, check its flesh is firm, its eyes are clear and its gills are bright red.

Koppert Cress suggests that you pair it with limon cress. Part of the basil family, it has the scent and taste of lime and subtle hints of aniseed. Its lime flavour comes through well in fish dish and dessert, and is a good addition to fruit and alcoholic cocktails.

Tom Kerridge makes red mullet with braised oxtail and beef and bay dressing,  Aiden Byrne puts red mullet in a nasturtium salad with pickled cockles and capers.  Why not try Angela Hartnett’s quick and easy linguine with red mullet, radicchio, chilli and garlic


Why is hake a great substitute for cod? 


saltwater roast hakeHighly favoured in Italian, Spanish and French cuisine, hake is long and slender and makes for a great steak or loin supreme. Though similar to cod, its firmer, fleshier texture means it can hold its own better than its flaky counterpart. 

Koppert suggests pairing hake with borage cress. Known in the Netherlands as the ‘cucumber herb,’ the cress has a clean, fresh taste, with salty notes reminiscent of oyster.

The name originates from the Arabic word ‘Abu Rache.’ ‘Abu’ means father and ‘rache’ means sweating. Traditionally, it is thought that eating borage when ill stimulates the recovery process.

As well as with hake, borage cress can be paired with lightly cooked and cold smoked fish, and even meat tartares.

Pip Lacey cooks hake with pink finger radish, white asparagus, mussels and crispy shallots. Try Terry Laybourne’s saltwater roast hake with with Iberico ham, clams and dry sherry.  Paul Foster suggests poaching hake and serving it with grants butter, fennel and seaweed.

Watch 3-Michelin star Chef Elena Arzak create her hake and chocolate truffle dish:

When is halibut in season?

A white-fleshed fish found in the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans. The largest flat fish, stocks in the Atlantic are becoming depleted so organisations dedicated to sustainability, such as Seafood Watch, recommend eating halibut from the Pacific Ocean. Halibut has a very low fat content compared to other fish. It is available most of the year round, but comes into its own in March. 

How should rhubarb be served?

Rhubarb will be ready from March onwards, possibly earlier if forced. Like the Bramley apple, it is versatile and can be used to make an alternative pudding to something apple-based. Serve it with custard or ice cream, stew it, roast it or use it in, compotes, jams, crumbles, or to accompany porridge or cereal. For something a little more enticing try this Rhubarb and almond tart by Russell Brown.

WS Rhubarb and almond tart Jan 1   low res
Rhubarb tart 


See Elena Arzak create a recipe with white tuna and rhubarb:

Inspiration for spinach dishes 

Another vegetable which can be bought 12 months of the year, spinach is at its best from March to September. Great raw on its own or as part of a salad, the green plant is regularly found accompanying main dishes and is a rich source of iron, many vitamins, calcium, essential acids, which explains Popeye’s fascination! Serve with some fresh scallops, in season from December through to March and then again over the summer months.

egg florentine with smoked salmon, spinach and roe


Another great spinach dish is smoked haddock velouté and parsley purée, cauliflower and spinach, finished with caviar, cooked here by Michelin star chef Richard Picard-Edwards: 

Are you using any of these ingredients in your menus, let us know over on @canteentweets or our Facebook page. Look out for our guide next month to see what's in season.

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About Koppert Cress koppert cress seasonal update /image9955be.PNG
Koppert Cress

KoppertCress is a producer of innovative, and food-safe living micro-vegetables, specialities and cresses, our seedlings come from unique plants, each having their own specific effects on the senses either for Flavour, fragrance, feel or just presentation! This Collection is presented as Architecture Aromatique'. Servicing the International and global gastronomy. KoppertCress enables the best Chefs to be the best!

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 1st March 2021

March seasonal update