When it’s time to transition from heavy winter dishes like soups and stews, to lighter salads and stir fry dishes for spring,using fresh, in-season ingredients is the way to go. Fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables taste better than frozen or canned and provide amazing nutrients too. The spring produce in your grocery store or farmers market will depend on where you live, but you’ll likely see these seven items.
No matter where you live, springtime means asparagus. With its healthy benefits and beautiful appearance, versatile asparagus can be used in a stir fry or omelet, or served as a side dish, grilled and buttered. Asparagus is a perfect pairing with fish or chicken. Just be careful not to overcook it as the spears will quickly turn to mush.
Do you see these colorful, leafy stems at the market every spring, and wonder what to do with them? Rhubarb is used mainly in pies and tarts, and can be made into a lovely sauce, too. It adds a wonderfully tart flavor to complement sweeter fruits, like strawberries. Only the stems are edible and the deeper the red color, the more flavorful they will be. Because it’s so tart, rhubarb is typically cooked with sugar to balance the taste.
Snap peas are likely arriving in your stores and farmers markets right now. A popular ingredient in stir-fry dishes, snap peas add a nice crunch to salads, too. My kids inhale snap peas when I include them in their lunch boxes, or add them to a dish of sliced carrots and cucumbers for a healthy afternoon snack.
There are few things as delicious as fresh strawberries. If you’re lucky, you may be seeing strawberries in the store already, depending on where you live. Unfortunately, strawberries only stay fresh for a few days, so pick or buy only what you will eat right away. Or stock up and make jam, jelly, shortcake, or a pie (don’t forget the rhubarb!).
New Baby Potatoes
Ah, the light, mellow texture and taste of new baby potatoes! Tastier and lighter than baking potatoes, baby potatoes are delicious steamed, boiled, or roasted until just tender, and tossed in butter or olive oil and herbs like parsley, rosemary, and dill. Whether a side dish at lunch or dinner or the main course of a vegetarian meal with salad, these new potatoes say spring is here!
This often overlooked vegetable adds a nice crunch and flavor to green salads. Radishes are harvested during a few short weeks of spring, and have a mild, bright, and peppery flavor that pairs well with lighter foods, and gives a vegetable platter an extra kick.
You’ll find them in abundance in early spring, with colors ranging from bright greens and yellows, to deep reds and purples, to almost black. Depending on how ripe they are, plums can be firm and crisp, or soft and very juicy. You can eat plums plain, incorporate into a salad or tart, or grill and serve as a side dish with your favorite meat.
What is your favorite spring fare?