Insider’s Viewpoint: Unique Ways to Prepare Spring Veggies
Warmer months are here and so is the spring harvest. Whether the produce available in the market is new to you or you are looking for unique ways to use fruits and vegetables you are familiar with, this is the time to bring springtime to your plate.
Asparagus: Enjoy It Raw!
The sweet, tender asparagus found in spring is a sure sign that warmer months are coming. Asparagus is rich in vitamin A, folate, and other micronutrients that boost the nutrition in your day. You likely know of many ways to use asparagus, but did you that it can be enjoyed raw too? Chop it into your next salad or add to a colorful crudité. If you prefer to cook it, boil it for a few minutes and then immediately blanch in an ice bath to preserve its bright green color.
Vidalia Onion: It Really Is Sweet
Yes, onions, and even “sweet” onions are available all year. But, Vidalia onions, which are harvested in spring, transcend the “usual” uses for onions. In fact, this unique onion can be used in desserts and pairs especially well with apple in pies and tarts or with other fruit in sweet salsas. It takes time to properly caramelize onions (and bring out their sugary flavor). Consider preparing more than you need and freezing leftovers so they are readily available when you want them.
Fiddleheads: A Sure Sign of Spring
You know it’s springtime in New England when micronutrient-rich fiddlehead ferns, which are commonly found in northeast wetland regions, are harvested. Fiddleheads can be bitter, but when cooked well, add crunch and unique flavor. To enjoy them, look for fiddleheads that are hard and shiny. Remove the outer layer, trim, briefly boil, and then blanch in ice cold water. Once dry, sauté them in a bit of garlic and olive oil and season as desired.
Artichokes: Peak Season
With our broad access to produce throughout the year, it can be difficult to know when a vegetable is at its peak. Artichoke falls into this category for sure, but if you are looking for tender, fresh artichokes then springtime is your season. Enjoy this versatile vegetable that’s rich in fiber and potassium in a variety of ways and in a number of recipes.
Watercress: Add Something Special to Your Plate
Like artichokes, watercress can be found throughout the year, but is best in spring. If you think of watercress as a garnish, then reconsider the role it plays on your plate. This leafy green is rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals and may be the superfood your diet is missing. Pick some up at the market to add peppery flavor and nutrition to your plate.
Allison J. Stowell MS,RD,CDN