Soft flavors, bright colors and pleasant aromas are the hallmarks of early spring produce. Savor woodsy asparagus by roasting them to enhance their flavor and provide for a more tender texture.
Move away from the strong flavorings of winter, like garlic and onions, and explore some milder ingredients, such as shallots and green onions (spring onions).
Leafy herbs become widely available in spring and are a great addition to any dish.
Radishes are root vegetables with a distinctive flavor that range from mild to sharp, depending on the variety. To choose the best, pick radishes that are deep in color with solid roots. They are delicious used in appetizer recipes.
All types of leafy greens and lettuces begin to bloom in the spring. With temperatures warming, it is time to replace stews and casseroles with salads at the dinner table.
Although rhubarb is often used as a fruit in sweet pies and jams, rhubarb is actually a vegetable. You can find rhubarb in a range of colors, from green to bright pink and everything in between (color doesn’t indicate ripeness) in the market until June. It makes a great sauce to use over grilled chicken or fish.
Strawberries are at their peak in the spring. Be sure to purchase firm red berries with no soft or mushy spots. Store them in the refrigerator, but keep them dry. Don’t wash until ready to eat and serve at room temperature. Use them to brighten your morning cereal.
Here is a dish to make now that highlights some of the best of spring produce.
Penne Primavera with Salmon
- 8 ounces salmon, cut into 2 portions
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 12 ounces whole wheat penne
- 1 bunch thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3/4 cup fresh shelled peas
- 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
- 3/4 cup crème fraîche
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Brush both sides of the salmon with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place skin-side down on a small baking sheet and roast until the salmon is lightly pink in the center, 8 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add penne and cook until al dente, about 13 minutes, adding asparagus and peas in the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain the pasta and vegetables and return them to the pot. Place the pot over low heat and stir in the tomatoes, crème fraîche, Parmesan and shallot. Heat for a few minutes.
Remove and discard salmon skin; flake salmon into chunks with a fork and mix into the pasta along with the dill. Serve immediately.
What is your favorite spring produce?