Spring is in the air, and we’re celebrating by having a spring fling…with veggies! After a long, arduous winter, we’re ready to trade in our coats and mittens for short sleeves and sunshine. That also means we’re bidding adieu to the soup and stew recipes that have kept us warm through the long cold days. Instead, we’re basking in the vegetable bounty of springtime.
A trip to the farmer’s market will reap some of the best produce this season has to offer. Look beyond the traditional peas and asparagus, and you might find some lesser-known but equally satisfying springtime veggies.
These curly greens aren’t just for floral arrangements; they also taste great too. Only available in early spring, fiddlehead ferns are similar in taste to asparagus. They’re packed with nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids and twice the amount of antioxidants as blueberries. We recommend steaming them or sauteing them. Just season them up with salt and pepper, add in a little garlic, and serve alongside some grilled chicken or steak.
With a light licorice flavor, fennel adds a brightness to all the dishes it’s added to. Whether served up cooked or raw, this vegetable is most often used in Mediterranean cuisine. You can use the bulb, the stems, or even the fronds of this vegetable. We love a good shaved fennel and orange salad, for example.
Every chef loves incorporating these puppies into their menus as soon as the season rolls around. Who can blame them? Ramps, also referred to as wild leeks, are only in season for a very short time in the early spring. Their flavor is often likened to a combination of garlic and onion. They can be eaten raw or can be cooked as you would scallions and leaks.
Most people think of peas when asked to name springtime produce, but the leaves of plant are worth trying as well. In fact, they taste like peas and can replace any green in a salad. They can also be sauteed or added to pasta dishes for some brightness. Just be sure to use them within two days of buying them, or they’ll wilt.
If you’re like us, you automatically think of pie when the word ‘rhubarb’ is mentioned. However, this brightly-colored vegetable can be used in all sorts of sweets and even some savory ones. Its tart flavor makes it the perfect complement to sweet ripe strawberries, which is why the combination is regularly found in jams and desserts. Some savory rhubarb dishes include rhubarb-braised chicken and beet and rhubarb salad.
Try out these less-common springtime vegetables, and let us know what you think!