Spring Vegetables

April 10, 2010

Enjoy the bounty of early spring!

Early spring is the perfect time to enjoy these delicious and nutritious vegetables. This is what’s in season now:

  • Asparagus – Fresh, crispy local asparagus is one of my favorite spring vegetables. The stalks should be firm and tender at the same time; the color bright green, and the tips tightly closed. Steam or boil for around 5-8 minutes until just tender, or brush with olive oil and roast in the oven. Serve just as it is or with a dressing of olive oil and lemon juice. Use in salads, quiches, soups or pasta sauces.
  • Chicory – Look for firm heads, tightly furled leaves and no brown streaks. Chicory is great steamed or gently sautéed in olive oil. It compliments fish and is also good raw in salads, mixed with other leaves and slices of orange.
  • New Potatoes – Cook them in their tender skins for a wonderfully delicate flavor. Boil, roast or steam them, and serve simply with olive oil and salt. They are also excellent in salads.
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli –  Look for firm, slender stems and leaves with intense purple color. Cut the stems into pieces and steam until tender. Delicious tossed in a olive oil, sesame seeds and a dash of chili. Also good in soups, sautés, and pasta sauces.
  • Radishes – I love their bright red or pink skins and peppery flavor. Wash, discard the root and leaves, and slice. Good in salads, sandwiches, soups or just on their own.
  • Spinach – A super-food filled with vitamins. Wash well, and cook with no additional water. Spinach shrinks as it cooks, so buy plenty of it. Steam or boil it, covered in a pot, for just a few minutes. I add it to soups, sautés or eat it raw in salads.
  • Spring Onions  or Scallions – This is another of my favorites among spring vegetables. Wash well, cut off the roots and peel outer leaves. Use in salads and stir fries. Spring onions cook quickly, and can replace ordinary onions in any recipe.
  • Watercress – Belongs to family of cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, which contain anti-cancer chemicals and are full of vitamins. Look for crisp dark-green leaves, crisp and fresh with no sign of wilting. Wash well before use. Chop into salads or sandwiches, or use in soups or stir fries.

And don’t forget carrots, all kinds of greens and salads, beets, etc. etc. If you have a farmer’s market in your area, it is the best place to find fresh, local produce. Enjoy the bounty of early spring!

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