The hungry gap is the name for this time of year, when there are no fresh vegetables left growing in the fields and the stored food is used up or gone off.  Not that in the modern era many people notice it, now that we can import food from all over the world, freezers keep food for years and the supermarkets are as full as ever.

But for locavores (people who eat locally grown food), those who eat their own produce,  or just if you feel that seasonal produce tastes vastly superior to forced or long distance grub, how do you get through the next few weeks?

Tom Norrington Davies has some great suggestions in this article in the Guardian, using cauliflowers, leeks and rhubarb.

I’ve noticed a few spring stirrings in the garden in the last week or so, with the chives and rhubarb starting to appear, and a few leaves of parsley seem to have survived all through the frosts of winter.  I also like to keep a few things growing on the windowsill and the easiest gardening you will ever do is to grow mustard and cress in tubs and a few sprouted seeds in a jar.

Mustard and cress

For mustard and cress, just line a couple of plastic tubs with some kitchen paper, soak the paper in water and sprinkle a fairly thick layer of the seeds over it.  Keep the paper watered at all times, leave the tubs in daylight, then you’ll have some gorgeous, fresh sprouted greens in 1 – 2 weeks.  I love the peppery flavour of the mustard and cress shoots and they’re surprisingly nutritious, with good amounts of vitamins A and C as well as B vitamins, magnesium, calcium and potassium.  Add them to sandwiches of hummous or pate, sprinkle them on salads or use as a garnish on stir fries.  Or try them as a simple salad with this lovely Honey Mustard Dressing.


1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp white wine / cider vinegar
6 tbsp sunflower oil
salt and pepper to taste

Put the mustard, honey oil and vinegar in a jar and shake until well mixed.  Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle over the mustard cress salad and serve at once.

Winter Mustard and Cress Salad