One of the great things about spring is the new rainbow of fresh vegetables, a welcome change for those looking to keep their food miles low and eat seasonally. While we’re not quite ready for summer salads, we can use these veggies to make lighter suppers packed full of colour and nutrients.
With that in mind, meal delivery service Gousto has taken three of the best and brightest springtime ingredients – beetroot, cucumber and spinach. Applying their creative wizardry, the following hacks are sure to bring your taste buds out of hibernation and help use up that half bag of spinach or the end of the cucumber that’s looking a bit sad at the back of the fridge.
Spring hero #1– Beetroot
Popular as a natural food colouring, beetroot is a real winner for the health fanatics out there, as it contains lots of iron, potassium and Vitamin C. Here are Gousto’s top creative ways to get it into your diet:
Try roasting your beetroot with some honey and walnuts to create this Honey Roast Beetroot with Feta & Spinach Bulgur recipe. Roasting beetroot lessens the bitter flavour and goes very well with carrots and sweet potatoes.
Still, feeling the need for something a little more warming in the evening? This Beetroot & Mushroom Ragù is made by finely chopping the beetroot and bubbling away in a rich, delicious mushroom and carrot stew.
Grating into a burger
Friday night burgers don’t have to be junk food. Lean into the sweetness of your beetroot and grate it into a delicious Beetroot Burger with Tarragon Mayo. Combined with glossy red onion relish, it’ll quickly become a go-to way to use up any beetroots that are starting to soften.
Chef hack to use up everything
Beetroot tops can be used to substitute for or complement greens, such as spinach, swiss chard, and bok choy. They can be steamed, sauteed, braised, added to soups or even eaten raw. Sauteeing the stems with a bit of garlic, orange and shallot is a great way to have them tender and crisp – the perfect side for just about anything. Just make sure to rinse them well, and they’re good to go!
The leaves can be a perfect addition to a stir fry, with some olive oil, garlic, sugar, seasoning, and red wine vinegar at the last second. Finely chop and add it to the pan, in place of spinach, kale or other greens. Beetroot is also best friends with walnut, so sautéing the leaves with butter, ground black pepper and salt, and topped with toasted walnuts makes for a yummy snack.
Spring hero #2 – Cucumber
It’s easy to end up with half a cucumber lying in the back of the fridge if you’ve no intention of using it up in yet another salad. The senior chefs at Gousto love using up cucumbers by getting creative. Whether that’s pickling, sauteing or ribboning, there are many versatile ways to get the hydration and vitamin K from cucumbers.
Grate the cucumber into a refreshing yoghurt dip
Meal kit Gousto’s go-to springtime dinner recipe is this Bulgarian-Style Stuffed Peppers & Cucumber Yoghurt. Filling the pepper halves with beef and pork mince, baked in a rich tomato sauce, the refreshing Greek-style cucumber yoghurt balances the dish perfectly.
Senior Chef Jordan Moore’s best tip for accentuating the crunch before grating is leaving the cucumber with salt for 20 minutes, rinsing the salt off, and squeezing out any moisture with a kitchen towel.
Give it a quick pickle
Gousto loves to pickle cucumbers, cut the cucumber in half lengthways and finely slice, then soak in rice vinegar, sugar and a pinch of salt. Try this delicious Malaysian-Style Coconut Basa with a Pickled Cucumber recipe for a flavourful alternative.
Chef’s hack to use up everything
Cucumber is particularly tasty sauteed with a bit of oil and salt. Using butter or sesame oil is highly recommended, as the cucumber pairs well with nutty flavours. Remember to avoid peeling your cucumbers, as the skin is full of nutrients and adds extra crunch.
Food waste tip
Limp cucumbers can also be revived by slicing off the end and standing in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes – they’ll be back to their crunchy glory in no time.
Spring hero #3 – Spinach
Iconic green vegetable spinach is known for being loaded with health benefits, such as vitamin K, magnesium and calcium, and is a go-to way of adding an extra vitamin hit to dishes. However, an uneaten, or half-eaten, a bag of spinach quickly goes soggy, as our green smoothies can only take so much. Here’s what Gousto loves to do with spinach:
Give it an Asian twist
Pairing spinach with sesame oil and garlic transforms the flavours to give it an Asian-inspired twist. This Japanese hambagu & sesame spinach recipe comes served with nutty rice.
Stir into rice or pasta for an extra healthy kick. This 10-minute Tandoori Salmon & Minty Cucumber recipe is light, quick and refreshing – perfect for those warmer evenings. Use up leftover spinach by wilting the spinach into cooked rice or pasta. This Creamy Pesto, Chicken & Spinach Amorini is another 10-minute favourite.
Chef’s hack to use up everything
Using up spinach may seem like a task and a half, but sauteed or steamed spinach shrinks up surprisingly quickly, so don’t be afraid to add plenty to your dishes. Stir your spinach over high heat until it’s wilted, as a higher heat will help any liquid it releases to evaporate quickly. This is worth doing if you want to avoid wet or slimy spinach.
Food waste tip
Blending spinach with some sauteed garlic, onion and stock to make a delicious sauce is another way to use up any leftovers. Remember, after blanching, you can always freeze spinach for up to six months and add to any curries as and when.
For more hacks on how to eat seasonally and minimise food waste, visit here.