Spring hasn’t exactly sprung, even if the calendar says so. This winter has been agonizingly long for all of us. We are yearning for warmer weather and longer days with bountiful spring produce. Even if spring has not quite arrived, we can get a taste of it from these ingredients that remind us that winter won’t last forever.
Asparagus. Thick or thin, green or white, asparagus stalks with a crisp bite are a sure sign of spring. Roast quickly in a hot oven with olive oil and sea salt and top with toasted pine nuts or feta cheese and vinaigrette. Grill on the stovetop, or shave raw into a salad. Make a creamy sauce with asparagus to serve over pasta. Serve alongside scrambled eggs for a light meal.
Artichokes. Artichokes are among my favorite vegetables. They are fun to eat, with a rustic, earthy flavor profile. Stuff with a breadcrumb herb stuffing, steam and serve with a garlic lemon yogurt dip, marinate and grill them, or incorporate artichoke hearts into pasta or chicken dishes.
Strawberries. A spring berry that is sweet and tart. Throw strawberries into a salad of greens and chicken with a sweet-tart vinaigrette, make into a salsa with avocado and lime to serve over fish, or use in desserts along with rhubarb in crumbles and tarts or dipped in chocolate.
Rhubarb. Often paired with strawberries, rhubarb is usually used in desserts, although more recently used as a vegetable as well. Make a crumble with oats and chopped hazelnuts. Make a tart with puff pastry. Create a compote to put over a vanilla yogurt parfait topped with slivered almonds.
Spring peas. English, sugar snap, and snow peas are all delicious in the spring. Try in a salad, side dish, or stir-fry or eat raw as a snack. Combine all three varieties with chopped dates and walnuts for a delicious side dish. Make rice with fresh peas for a pop of freshness. Fresh peas lend a perfect delicate sweetness to spring pea soup.
Radicchio. Radicchio, sometimes known as Italian chicory, is a leafy red vegetable with white veins. It has a bitter, spicy taste. Great chopped up with some herbs and dressed with lemon juice. Grilling a whole head tames the bitterness and is delicious with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
Fava beans. A member of the pea family, fava has a distinct flavor and creamy texture. These beans are popular in Mediterranean cooking. Grilled whole favas tossed with salt are amazing BBQ finger food. Cooked favas puréed with olive oil and lemon juice can be served on crusty bread. v
With Fava-Bean Purée
1½ lb. shelled fresh fava beans (4–5 cups)
4–6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
15–20 thin slices toasted baguette
8–10 leaves fresh mint, sliced into thin ribbons
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add fava beans and cook until bright green, 1–2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Peel and discard skins.
Heat 4 Tbsp. oil in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add fava beans and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, adding a little water to keep beans moist until they are tender, about 5 minutes.
Purée beans in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and season to taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Brush toasted baguette slices with remaining olive oil, spread with fava purée, and garnish with mint.
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