Rhubarb gin

What’s in season – February

Discover seasonal recipe ideas for February and key foodie dates for your diary. Make the most of purple sprouting broccoli, turnips, sprouts, swedes and much more.

February might seem like one big chilly Tuesday, but look closer and it’s a lot more action-packed than you’d think. There’s Yorkshire Pudding Day, Chinese New Year, Pancake Day and, like it or not, it’s Valentine’s Day too. This can be the perfect opportunity to cook and impress someone special or simply avoid those crowded restaurants.

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The seasonal recipes below would all work very nicely as a cosy dinner for two but could easily be bumped up for a crowd if you’re throwing an alternative bash with friends. Check out more top tips for a successful Valentine’s Day.

BBC Good Food’s Miriam Nice has teamed up with Emma Crawforth of Gardeners’ World to help you grow, cook and eat the best of the season.
 

Salsify

Sow seeds in spring, in an open, sunny site in free-draining soil, free of stones and ideally improved with organic matter the previous year. To get the best crop, as with carrots, your soil should be deep enough for roots to penetrate far down. Sow into drills (shallow channels in the soil) 10cm apart, so you can thin the seedlings to a neat row of plants. Keep the area weed-free and water during dry spells. To harvest the roots, fork them out only when needed; they won’t keep well out of the ground and are sticky to handle if damaged. Emma

Salsify crumpets

Salsify crumpets

Mix together 1 tbsp crème fraîche and 1 tsp Dijon mustard, and set aside. Scrub and peel 2 sticks of salsify and cut into batons, roughly 5-6cm long, then toss them in the juice of ½ lemon to stop them discolouring. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the salsify for 2-3 mins, then add 1 tbsp butter. Turn the heat down and cook gently for 10-12 mins, or until the salsify is soft and golden. Keep the salsify warm while you poach 4 eggs. Top 4 crumpets with a generous pinch of grated mature cheddar and grill until melted and bubbling. Sprinkle the cooked, buttery salsify with a pinch of grated nutmeg and season. Pile the salsify over the crumpets, then top with a poached egg each and the mustardy crème fraîche. Serve with a few chopped chives, some black pepper and a drizzle of butter from the pan. Serves 2

Primrose flowers

Primrose flowers

Edible flowers are a fantastic and easy way of decorating sweet dishes like cakes and desserts. They can add a much-needed pop of colour and often a fresh peppery taste, depending on the flowers used. Try them in savoury dishes, too, like salads and open sandwiches such as these smoked salmon tartines – it would make a really special light lunch. Or, cut the toast into bite-sized pieces and serve as canapés at your next celebration. 

Smoked salmon tartines

Smoked salmon tartines

Toast 4 slices of rye or sourdough bread, then spread with 100g crème fraîche. Flake 150g hot smoked salmon over the top and garnish with a few capers, 1 finely chopped pickled gherkin and a squeeze of lemon juice. Season, then scatter over ½ tsp chopped chives and 8-10 primrose flowers. Serves 4

Primroses (primula vulgaris) are tough plants that will survive drought, although they prefer moist conditions. If you’re planning on eating the flowers, source and grow organic ones to avoid consuming any of the chemicals commonly used by ornamental flower growers. Emma
 

Winter cabbage
Cabbage

Leafy winter cabbage is at it’s best from October to April.


Try this garlicky linguine with cabbage & anchovy from food writer Silvana Franco. This thrifty dish of pasta, cabbage and herby ‘pangrattato’ breadcrumbs is delicious in its simplicity.

See more recipes in our cabbage collection.
 

Forced rhubarb


Keeping the rhubarb crowns in darkness for a few weeks makes the shoots grow in search of light earlier than usual. Long, slim and pale, these are sweet and succulent. Try it indoors for the earliest crop or place an upturned bin over a crown outdoors, weighed down with a brick. Emma


Make this tipsy rhubarb & blood orange jelly for the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert. Or try infusing your own rhubarb gin.

Find more inspiration with our rhubarb recipes.
 

Purple sprouting broccoli

Purple sprouting broccoli has a short season, so grab it while you can. Look for ones with fresh, crisp leaves and deep purple florets – although, be aware, the colour will fade during cooking. Purple sprouting broccoli is a great alternative to asparagus, so try it griddled and served with poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and toasted English muffins or sourdough.
 

This warm broccoli, feta & preserved lemon salad by contributing editor Diana Henry is a real treat; roasting the broccoli brings out a little sweetness which pairs brilliantly with the sour yogurt and bitter lemon.

Find more ideas in our purple sprouting broccoli recipe collection.
 

Brussels sprouts

Not just for Christmas, Brussels sprouts are around until early spring. If you buy them on the stalks, don’t forget the top leaves are edible too (just cook them like cabbage).

This cheesy sprout fondue recipe will convert any sprout hater.

Get more recipe inspiration in our Brussels sprouts collection.
 

Turnips

Winter turnips have a stronger, peppery flavour compared to summer’s baby turnips. Try swapping some of the potatoes in a hotpot, gratin or dauphinoise for turnips. They’ll make the dish
 a bit lighter and really crank up the flavour.

We’re coming to the end of the season, so make the most of them, served raw in this crispy salmon with turnip, mandarin & noodle salad

Find extra ideas in this collection of turnip recipes
 

Swedes 


Small swedes are sweeter, but peeling them is more laborious than peeling a large one.

Try a drizzle of maple syrup to bring out the sweetness in this comforting sausage traybake by recipe writer Katy Gilhooly. 

Find more ideas see our swede recipe collection.
 

Garden tasks for February

  • Sow seeds for many of the year’s crops. This is the time to start tomatoes you’re going to grow in a greenhouse, while Brussels sprouts, summer cabbages, onions, peas and spinach can be sown under cover now.
  • Cage your crops to keep them safe from hungry wood pigeons. They will devastate cabbage and kale beds in cold weather.
  • Plant fruit trees and bushes.
  • Mulch beds with well-rotted compost or manure to prepare them for spring sowing and planting.

For more seasonal gardening tips, see Gardeners’ World. See our seasonal calendar for more inspiration.
 

Check out more seasonal recipes

Top 20 winter recipes
Top 10 rhubarb recipes
Top 10 winter soup recipes
The health benefits of broccoli


Emma Crawforth is a qualified horticulturist who trained at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and is the gardening editor for BBC Gardeners’ World. Miriam Nice is a published author and illustrator. She has written over 350 recipes for BBC Good Food.

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The February issue of BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine is on sale now.