What’s in Season at the Early Spring Farmers Market?
Eating seasonally (i.e., basing your daily diet on what grows and is harvested each season) means you experience the true fresh flavors of certain foods—especially when brought from field to plate soon after harvest. Though most of us don’t live in a climate that allows year-round gardening, many crops thrive in the cool temps of early spring and most can be found at your local farmers market.
Early Spring Veggies in Season
Among the early crops farmers grow are a few of our favorites for big flavor. Spring onions are great on the grill served with other veggies or as an accompaniment for steak or chicken. They’re also good in salads, adding a delicate crunch and delicious flavor.
Spring is also when rhubarb is in season. Don’t eat the leaves; just the thick reddish stalks. They’re tart and make excellent jam or pair them with strawberries in a pie. Radishes can also be found in spring and come in many shapes and colors ranging from white to red to purple. They lend a wonderful crunch and sweet, spiciness to salads, flatbreads and when eaten French-style—sliced with butter and salt.
Spring Brings Foraged Foods
If you’re lucky enough to live in an area where they are plentiful, you may also find some unique foods that are foraged from the forest instead of harvested as a crop. Their handpicked nature means they may be more expensive and bought up quickly because of their limited supply.
You’ll often find ramps are at many farmers markets in spring. These wild relatives of onions and garlic grow during a short window of time and are sought for their delicious, strong flavor that is a mix of garlic and onion. You can pickle them, use them in stir fries or even slice the whole ramp and serve it on pizza.
Morel mushrooms are also a cherished ingredient sought by chefs in spring. They’re one of the most desired (and delicious) mushrooms in the world. They’re oblong and slightly bulbous with an odd, spongy texture. Unlike many mushrooms, morels are meatier in texture and provide a good source of protein. Sauté them with butter, bread and fry them, or use them in risotto. Their mild flavor is often described as nutty or earthy.
Early Spring Is Perfect for Asparagus
One of our favorite early spring vegetables is asparagus. As a relative of the lily family, it grows best in spring weather. It’s generally harvested from March through June, depending on your local climate, and is one of the first green veggies spotted at farmers markets. It’s packed with vitamin C and a good source of vitamin A. Choose stalks with dry, tight tips and avoid wilted stalks.
This vegetable can be steamed, grilled, roasted and served many ways. This recipe for spring vegetable orecchiette pasta is a delicious way to display the mild flavor and crunch of asparagus.
Spring Veggie Orecchiette
16 oz Orecchiette pasta
2 cups fresh English peas
2 cups snow peas or sugar peas
1 cup asparagus tips
1 tbsp olive oil or butter
1 onion, diced
8 oz cremini mushrooms, halved
2 cups arugula, chopped
Salt and cracked pepper
½ cup parmesan or pecorino, grated
lemon zest from one small lemon (optional)
fresh herbs (optional)