Seasoning and the Best of Spring


Food writer, chef and presenter – and former columnist here at the Arb – Angela Clutton returns to the magazine with a brace of recipes from her new book, Seasoning…

Spanning the four seasons of the year, Seasoning takes over fifty vegetables and fruits and explores their seasonality, offering tips on shopping and storing, countless ways to use them, flavour partners and how to minimise waste – and, of course, it features a range of fresh, modern and approachable recipes show how to make the best of the season’s produce.

In this book, I want to illustrate how embracing seasonality is about understanding the cycles of the land and the climate – even, or especially, as it changes – and how they have the ability to make things taste the best possible versions of themselves. It’s about sustainability, and also about the joy to be had in not having everything, always, but in looking forward to something, and then missing it when it’s gone. Vegetables and fruits take centre stage, with profiles of meat and fish – whose seasonality is often forgotten – woven through.

Slow-roasted Chermoula lamb shoulder with aubergine cream

The delight of this roasted joint is that it starts off with the aubergine rounds making a bed for the meat. There they can take on its fat and juices as the lamb cooks, with the spicy chermoula and sherry vinegar marinade seeping into them too. The lamb then carries on to cook into tenderness, and the aubergines are blitzed to a creamy sauce with garlic and yoghurt. Simple and delicious. Save any leftover aubergine cream to toss over hot new potatoes, or spread on bread.

Serves 6–8 as a main

6 garlic cloves
1½ tbsp chermoula spice (not paste)
75ml (2½fl oz) olive oil
1½ tbsp sherry vinegar
1.2kg (2lb 11oz) aubergines (eggplants)
about 2.8kg (6lb 4oz) lamb shoulder
225g (8oz) Greek yoghurt
2 tsp lemon juice
handful of mint sprigs
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220°C fan/475°F/gas 9.

Peel 4 garlic cloves, crush, put into a mortar with a good pinch of salt and pestle to a paste. Mix with the chermoula, oil and vinegar to make a loose paste.

Trim and peel the aubergines, and then slice into rounds, 1cm (½in) thick. Lay them in a large roasting tin, arranging the aubergines to be roughly the same size as the lamb. Sit the lamb skin-side up on top of the aubergines. Pierce its skin several times with the point of a sharp knife. Rub the chermoula paste over the skin. Loosely cover the roasting tin with foil, put into the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 170°C fan/375°F/gas 5.

After 1½ hours, take the tin out and gently lift up the lamb to remove the aubergine slices. Some might be stuck to the base of the joint – be sure to get them all. Put the aubergines slices into a sieve set over a bowl to drain. Pour 200ml (7fl oz) hot water into the roasting tin (but not over the meat), cover it again, return to the oven and turn the temperature down to 140°C fan/300°F/gas 2. Roast for a further 2½ hours, then put the oven back up to 220°C fan/475°F/gas 9, take off the foil, and return to the oven for a final 20 minutes. Carefully lift out the lamb and set aside to rest.

Make the aubergine cream while the lamb rests: Peel and roughly chop the remaining 2 garlic cloves. Blitz the aubergine flesh with the garlic, yoghurt and lemon juice. Season, being particularly generous with the salt. Finely chop the mint leaves from one of the mint sprigs and scatter over. Serve with more mint to garnish.

Spring herb and goats’ cheese soufflé

Small individual soufflés can teeter on being too formal for home cooking. A bit prissy even. A large soufflé is sassy. Holding herself aloft with enough attitude to wow any crowd.

There is nothing to be nervous about in soufflé-making. Just follow the recipe, get the oven hot before it goes in, don’t open the door too early, and – most importantly – make sure whoever you are feeding is at the table ready for when the soufflé comes out of the oven and before it deflates. Serve with lightly dressed leaves, a bowl of new potatoes, and dry white wine – which should all also be prepared and waiting.

Serves 4–6 as a main

25g (1oz) Parmesan (or a strong, hard goats’ cheese)
55g (2oz) butter
40g (1½ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
400ml (13fl oz) whole milk
200g (7oz) soft goats’ cheese
3 egg yolks
4 egg whites
20g (3/4oz) soft herb leaves (any mix of tarragon, chives mint, basil, dill)
salt and black pepper
18–20cm (7–8in) soufflé dish

Preheat the oven to 190°C fan/400°F/gas 6 with a baking tray inside.

Finely grate the Parmesan. Melt 15g (½ oz) of the butter in a medium saucepan and brush the inside of the soufflé dish with it. Scatter over the grated Parmesan to coat the sides, shake off any excess, and set the prepped dish aside.

Melt the rest of the butter in the same pan over a low–medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for a couple of minutes, then whisk in the milk, adding it slowly at first. Turn the heat up a little and simmer for 3–4 minutes, whisking all the time, until the sauce thickens. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Crumble 125g (4oz) of the goats’ cheese into the sauce and mix it in to melt. Whisk in the egg yolks, then season. Up to this point can be done ahead.

Put the egg whites into a separate and very clean mixing bowl. Whisk until they’re stiff but not dry. You should be able to just about tip the bowl upside down without them falling. Chop the rest of the goats’ cheese into small pieces and crumble into the soufflé mix. Chop the herb leaves and mix those in, then gently fold in the egg whites keeping as much air as possible – a few streaks of white are fine.

Put the dish into the oven immediately, onto the hot baking tray, and bake for 25–30 minutes. It’s ready when golden, risen, and with just a gentle wobble when you move the dish. Under no circumstances be tempted to open the oven door to check on it until it’s been in for at least 20 minutes. Serve straight away.

Angela Clutton is an award-winning food writer, cook and presenter. Her first book, The Vinegar Cupboard, won the Jane Grigson Trust Award, was a double winner at the Guild of Food Writers Awards, and was the Debut Cookery Book of the Year at the Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards. Seasoning, published by Murdoch Books, is available now from all good stockists, priced £30.

Food Photography by Patricia Niven