Niki Bezzant is a Garden to Table ambassador. She is a food and nutrition writer, media commentator and Editor-at-Large of Healthy Food Guide.
Spring has sprung! What are your favourite spring veges?
I eat a lot of vegetables, and I don’t like to eat vegetables out of season. But at a certain point late in winter, I get really really bored with eating the same winter veges day after day. So I really love those vegetables that burst onto the scene to break us out of the winter drab. The most obvious is, of course, asparagus. It’s almost like a countdown to the day asparagus is available (and not $8 a bunch) and then I tend to have a bit of a binge on it.
During spring I also start to get back into salads, which I don’t feel like eating much in winter. I usually start with more substantial salads and slaws, and then graduate on to leafier things. So that means lovely spring carrots, courgettes, peas and of course, lovely new spring potatoes. And at some stage in spring I usually start eating tomatoes, since they taste like tomatoes again!
Do you grow veges yourself?
I live in a city apartment with no outdoor space, so I can’t grow any veges – I have to rely on our talented local growers. There is a small garden at our building, though, and so I can pick a few fresh herbs from there.
Tell us how you like to prepare your favourite spring veges.
With asparagus I start out by eating them in really simple ways, to celebrate their gorgeousness. I might have a plate of asparagus for dinner, just steamed and drizzled with hollandaise. Or spears dipped into boiled eggs, like soldiers. After a while, I start to cook them in more elaborate ways. I love asparagus roasted or grilled; it really brings out the sweetness. A little balsamic is nice to add to them. And I’ve recently done a delicious thing where you crumb the asparagus spears with a panko and parmesan mix and bake in the oven to make asparagus ‘fries’. They're really good with courgettes, too.
With other spring veges, like carrots, I really like to use my trusty julienne peeler (who needs a fancy spiraliser?) and make a pretty slaw, dressed with a Japanese-inspired dressing of sesame oil, lemon, soy and mirin. It’s crunchy and sweet and delicious.
What else do you like about spring?
I like the days getting longer, daylight savings starting and the change in the light. There’s also that wonderful promise of summer in the air. And it’s lovely to start eating lighter, fresher meals with different flavours.