Spring is home to a lot of my favorite things—warm weather, sunny days and the resurgence of delicious fruits and vegetables. While delicious vegetables are available year-round, there’s something about stepping out of winter’s warm stews and creamy casseroles and in to a bowl filled with green goodness. Here are five of my favorite spring ingredients, including how to buy and use them.
- Asparagus. Let’s be honest, I love asparagus year round, but when it’s in season it’s the perfect accompaniment for some many meals. When buying your asparagus, size doesn’t indicate anything about flavor, but you should look for bright green or violet-tinged spears with firm stems and closed, compact tips. Recipes: Asparagus and Soft Eggs on Toast, Asparagus and Gruyere Tarts or Pasta with Peas and Asparagus.
- Arugula: When it comes to leafy greens, arugula is, without a doubt, my favorite. With a slightly peppery taste, it’s more interesting that iceberg but mild enough to stand up to other bold flavors. Fresh arugula has long, firm, bright green leaves. Larger leaves are more peppery than small ones. Holes, tears, and yellow edges are signs that the greens are past their prime. Recipes: Pizza With Arugula and Prosciutto, Shaved Asparagus and Arugula Salad (two for one!) or Peach and Arugula Grilled Cheese.
- Rhubarb: Crisp and tart, rhubarb is a vegetable with thick, firm stalks and glossy, bright fuchsia skin. If any leaves are still attached, they should be pert and ruffled—not limp. Recipes: Pork Chops With Tangy Rhubarb Chutney, Strawberry Rhubarb Baked French Toast or Sparkling Rhubarb Lemonade.
- Radishes: Most common in their red, globe-shaped incarnation, radishes add a fresh, peppery taste. Ripe, healthy radishes feel firm when squeezed. The skin should be vibrantly colored and free of cracks, and the leaves should be bright green, not yellow or wilted. Recipes: Avocado, Radish, and Snow Pea Sandwich, Pesto, Radish, and Sea Salt Crostini or Chipotle Shrimp With Radish and Jicama Salad.
- Artichokes: Known for their hearts, artichokes have a delicate flavor. Look for deep green artichokes, heavy for their size, with a thorn at the tip of each leaf; they have a nuttier flavor and a firmer texture than the thornless variety. Recipes: Cheesy Baked Pasta With Spinach and Artichokes, Herb Gorgonzola Artichokes or Fried Baby Artichokes.
What’s your favorite spring recipe? Let us know!