What is in for Spring?

Every year, I search the markets for signs of Spring. This year, I’m going to link you to some great sites that make the most of spring ingredients. Keep in mind that Spring hits each area at different times, so these aren’t all available all at once, but it’s worth asking about when you might see these food harbingers of spring.

Here’s my target list:

Pea Shoots: The first tendrils of pea plants are entirely edible—even if you find some with miniature pea pods, grab them. You should get a nice big bag of sweet greens with curly tendrils. To prepare pea shoots, wash them thoroughly then use them in any stir fry—quick, high heat, just enough to warm the shoots and turn them bright green. And look,  here is a site devoted entirely to pea shoots and pea shoot recipes. That’s some pea shoot passion. And check out these picks for top ten pea shoot recipes.

Spinach: Although you’ll find me using spinach year round because I love it, and I will reach for frozen spinach without pause, Springtime is when you find this vegetable in the farmers’ markets. It can go into the ground early and is one of the first greens up. Try a warm spinach salad with bacon dressing—make it a meal with some Laura’s Lean Beef sliced up and tossed in. Here’s a recipe from Ellie Krieger, who pays attention to keeping meals healthy.

Radishes: Pick up a bunch of radishes as soon as you see them in the markets. Look for the smallest (youngest) you can find; the bite won’t be quite so potent. One of my favorite recipes for radishes is the simplest: Orangette's Salted Radishes on Buttered Bread. I think this year I will also try her Butter-glazed Radishes.

Arugula: Like spinach, arugula can go into the ground quite early and should be eaten before it bolts (turns from tender leaves into sprouted greens spreading seeds in your garden). When it is young, arugula packs a bite, a slightly bitter green with so much flavor. I washed tons of arugula on one of my first kitchen jobs, where I learned to love this green. Here’s a great recipe with pasta and prosciutto and here is Fine Cooking’s version with lamb (go ahead and substitute Laura’s Lean Beef!) and lemon vinaigrette. Toss leaves with salads or use it in place of lettuce on any sandwich.

What says springtime to you? Share links and recipes with us below.


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