I have begun to wait for the first strawberries of the season almost like a child waits for their favorite holiday. Alas, I had my first batch of fresh strawberries from the Farmer’s Market, signaling spring is finally here. Strawberries arrive a bit earlier on the west coast so fear not east-coasters, your strawberries will come too.
The best place to see what’s growing near you right now is to hit the Farmer’s Market. Spring’s weather is unpredictable all over, so while some states are still looking at snow, others are putting on the sunblock. Spring will arrive eventually in your area, as will my top picks for spring produce:
- Asparagus: We want asparagus all year long, but its prime season is spring. Tender and delicious, fresh asparagus is rich in vitamin K and the phytonutrient family saponins. Saponins in food have been found to have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties while offering a unique digestive support.
Sassy Tip: Asparagus has a high respiration rate, so it should be eaten within 48 hours of purchase. Wrap the ends of asparagus with wet paper towel and refrigerate to slow down spoilage.
2. Artichokes: One of my favorite veggies, artichokes have one of the highest amounts of fiber you can get from a vegetable.
Sassy Tip: Don’t be intimidated by the artichoke, if you love to eat them they are well worth the work and can be prepared in a variety of ways including grilled or thrown in the crockpot. Check Ocean Mist Farms for more artichoke info.
3. Baby lettuces: While you can get lettuce from spring into early fall, those first picks of greens are amazingly flavorful.
Sassy Tip: Watercress and arugula are also peak in spring and add a lot of spice to a salad.
4. Fava Beans: While Americans are slow on the uptake of fava beans, these were the only beans eaten by Europeans until they discovered America. Favas are rich, buttery, and nutty in flavor, while packing some serious fiber, iron and protein- so much so they were known as the more man’s meat.
Sassy Tip: You can buy fava beans at your Farmer’s Market in their giant pods, and some markets offer them already shucked. They can be eaten raw, boiled, smashed, or pureed and served as a dip. Get creative with fava bean recipes.
5. Garden Peas: Fresh off the vine and straight out of the pod, spring garden peas are divine and full of tender sweetness.
Sassy Tip: Don’t be shy about eating them raw or tossing them into your baby greens salad.
6. Apricots: Ripening towards the end of spring, apricots are a super potent source of vitamin A, as well as fiber and vitamin C. Although we often see them dried or in desserts, treat yourself to a fresh apricot and get a lot of nutrients from this tiny fruit.
Sassy Tip: I like to slice apricots down the middle, remove the seed, and fill the halves with a bit of strong cheese like gorgonzola. Arrange on a platter to serve as an appetizer, and you can even drizzle on a little bit of fresh honey. Delish!
Other spring produce deserving of honorable mention: sweet onions, chives, mint, rhubarb, radishes, greens, fennel, fiddleheads, garlic, parsley, and lemons.