It’s spring! The weather gets warmer, the days are longer and the leaves come back on the trees. Farmers’ markets open again and delight us with the bounty of fresh spring produce. There is no better time to lighten up our meals and eat seasonally. Produce has the most nutrition when it’s in season. Root veggies are amazing but I’ve been missing asparagus, snap peas, and artichokes. Luscious fruits also make a comeback including mangoes, cherries and pineapples. Let’s start spring with fresh recipes that use some of the incredible bounty of seasonal spring produce.
Apricots come into their peak in May. This little fruit is packed with vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and beta-carotene. Add sweet apricots to salsas, salads, desserts and even breakfast. It works in both sweet and savory dishes. Try this Kale Salad with Apricots and Almonds, Wild Rice Stuffing with Cranberry, Apricot and Scallion, and Baked Oatmeal with Apricots. For desserts, you will be springing up and down with this Roasted Apricot Custard Pie, Apricot, Coconut and Cashew Bars, Chocolate Chip, Apricot and Orange Scones and these Apricot Energy Balls.
Artichokes are at their peak March through June. These delicious vegetables take a bit of work to prep and cook but it’s so worth it. Check out Tips on how to Buy, Prep and Cook Artichokes for everything you need to know. Artichokes are extremely versatile. They can be steamed, braised or roasted. Grill them as in these healthy and tantalizing Grilled Artichoke and Quinoa Lettuce Wraps. Stuff them with bread crumbs and garlic as in my Overstuffed Artichokes. Baby artichokes are even quicker to prep because they don’t have chokes. Try them in this vegan Artichoke Paella and this Seasonal Quinoa Pilaf with Ramps, Artichokes and Peas. Don’t forget artichoke hearts. They add a tangy flavor to any dish like these Fried Artichokes over Lemon Butter Pasta, Healthy Vegan Artichoke Dip, and Seasonal Artichoke Pilaf with Quinoa, Ramps and Peas.
Asparagus comes into season from March through June. It comes in green, purple and white though the white variety is more popular in Europe. Asparagus is highly nutritious with vitamins, minerals and fiber. When cooked properly, asparagus has a light, delicate flavor and when roasted or sauteed, it’s rich and delicious. Try asparagus mixed in with other veggies like in this Indian Asparagus and Carrot Stir-Fry or Early Light Summer Veggie Saute. Cook it with lots of spices as in this Spiced Indian Tempeh with Vegetables and Quinoa or taste it full-on in this Raw Asparagus Soup. Everything tastes good when paired with pasta and pizza. Try this Asparagus Potato Pizza with Kale Pesto and this Creamy Rotini Alfredo with Asparagus and Peas. I love asparagus best when it’s prepared simply like this Super Simple Sesame-Drenched Asparagus.
Even as a kid, I couldn’t wait for cherries to come into season in late spring. I just knew they were delicious then but now I know they are also high in potassium, fiber and antioxidants. Read how healthy cherries are in The Many Benefits of Cherries for Your Heart Health, Weight, and More. Cherries make a sweet, healthy snack but you might also want to add them to your smoothies like this Cacao Nibs Cherry Smoothie and these Two Amazing Cherry Smoothies. Use cherries in your baked goods like these Very Cherry Donuts, Sweet Cherry Tarts, and Amaretto Cherry Strudel with Homemade Vegan Puff Pastry. Make it ala mode with a scoop of this Vegan Cherry Garcia Ice Cream.
5. Fava Beans
Fava beans were probably never so popular as when they appeared on Hannibal Lechter’s menu but they should definitely be on your menu when they come into season in the spring. Fava beans are high in protein and fiber. Young fava beans can be eaten raw or cooked and mature beans need their pods discarded. Stewed Fava Beans are eaten all over the Middle East and is considered the national dish of Egypt. It is a breakfast dish of fava beans, garlic and lemon juice. Fava beans are rich and hearty and can be added to soups, stews, salads or other dishes. Try them in this Barley Risotto with Fava Beans, Corn, and Mushrooms.
Sugar snap peas, snow peas and green peas are at their peak from April through July. They are high in fiber and protein with lots of vitamins. They can be eaten raw or cooked. Enjoy green peas in this Easy Indian-Style Vegan Mushrooms and Green Peas, Creamy Pumpkin Seed Alfredo with Kale and Sweet Peas, and these Healthy Pea Soup Shooters. Snap peas and snow peas come in pods that are edible and are delicious in this Wild Garlic Gnocchi in Almond Cream Sauce and this Snap Pea Salad with Almonds in an Herbed Vinaigrette. Pea shoots and sprouts are also healthy and a great addition to dishes.
Radishes are one of the first veggies to show up in the spring. Radishes are crunchy and peppery. Most people know the round red radish that is the size of a golf ball and white inside, but there is actually a wide variety of sizes, shapes and colors. Another type of radish that has been increasingly popular is daikon, the long white tuber. The original radish was actually black. Radishes are great raw in salads but I like to saute them until they are caramelized. To make Caramelized Radishes: trim 10-12 radishes and cut them into quarters (or halves if they are small). Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the radishes and cook for 5 minutes. You want the radishes to get tender but maintain their crunch. Add 1 clove minced garlic and 1 tsp. dried thyme to the radishes and toss. Standing back from the pan, add 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar and ½ tsp. sugar to the pan. Add salt and pepper according to your taste. Cook the radishes until they are golden brown, about 3 or 4 minutes. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. You can also pickle radishes in brine to make Indian Radish Pickle. Radish greens are also edible so don’t throw them away. They start to go bad rather quickly so use them as soon as possible. They can be sauteed with other greens or eaten raw. I like to make pesto with them.
Rhubarb is a vegetable that comes into season in April and stays through July. Rhubarb is a good source of vitamin C, manganese and potassium. It has a tart flavor and is used in both sweet and savory dishes. Try rhubarb in your smoothies like this Strawberry Rhubarb Smoothie. Add to desserts like this Seasonal Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie, and this Classic Rhubarb Crisp. Enjoy it in these Healthy Strawberry Rhubarb Bars and Berrylicious Rhubarb Crumble Granola.
This is just a sampling of the wonderful fruits and vegetables that show up in the spring. There is also morel mushrooms, okra, corn, green beans, ramps, spinach, mangoes and so much more. Go visit a farmers’ market and see the beautiful, colorful bounty that arrives with spring.
Lead Image Source: Seasonal Artichoke Pilaf with Quinoa, Ramps and Peas