With spring produce comes the promise of warmer months to come. It allows us to start incorporating brighter green flavors and fresh vegetables to the hearty soups, stews and squashes that have kept us warm and nourished through the winter months. Here’s a guide of what to look out for at the market this season, along with some tips on how to pick, store and cook your produce.
In season March-April
Asparagus is a versatile vegetable that provides a great source of antioxidants. It’s also packed with nutrients that contain anti-inflammatory properties and support crucial bodily functions. At the market, choose firm stalks with closed tips and a moist base. Store them in the refrigerator like you would flowers by keeping their stems in water. In the kitchen, the applications for asparagus are endless: roast it in the oven, make it into a soup, cook it with eggs, put it in a risotto or grill it with olive oil, lemon and salt.
In season March-May
We know that spring is here when green garlic, a younger version of the bulbs that most of us are used to cooking with, starts showing up at the market. Garlic is delicious, but its health benefits are even more of an incentive to include it in as many dishes as possible. It’s nutrients are known to protect the heart, strengthen immunity and support healthy joints. Choose bulbs of any size that are firm with no soft spots. Store your green garlic in the refrigerator, in a tightly sealed container. Use it as you would regular garlic, but expect a milder taste; put it in your braised greens, stir fry, or make a simple pasta sauce with olive oil and butter.
Grape and Cherry Tomatoes
In season April-July
A sign of what’s to come, these variations of tomatoes are bred to ripen earlier than the larger ones we look forward to in the summer. Tomatoes add a wonderful touch of acid to a variety of dishes. They’re rich in lycopene, which is a strong antioxidant that stimulates enzymes and deactivates carcinogens. Choose the brightest tomatoes without soft spots or wrinkles, and store them at room temperature to keep their flavor. They are delicious raw in salads, and they make a great pasta, meat or fish sauce when paired with olive oil and garlic.
In season February-June
Also known as “sugar peas” or “snow peas,” these sweet, delicate and crunchy delights are a spring favorite for good reason. Snap peas are an especially good source of soluble fiber, which can help the body regulate sugar content (a perfect snack to go with all of the strawberries your kids are eating this season). They also require little to no preparation before they are ready to eat… a cook’s dream! Choose pods that are firm and crisp, not soft or bendy. If you feel your peas are lacking crunch, soak them in salt water or give them a quick blanch to revive their crispiness. Snack on them with yummy dips, or add them to dishes like grain bowls, salads and pasta just before serving.
In season March-May
Strawberries from the farmer’s market will taste so much better than what you could ever find at the grocery store. Although they’re available for most of the year in California, springtime is when their flavor really peaks. To choose your strawberries, pick the baskets that smell the best. You can refrigerate them, but they’ll taste the best if you enjoy them as close to the time they’ve been picked as possible. Combine them with rhubarb to make a springy jam, add them to salads with ingredients like snap peas and goat cheese, or have them with cream for a special treat.
Get it while you can:
produce heading out of season
- Blood oranges
- Sweet Potatoes
We’ll see you at the market!
The Farmer Mark Team