May 17, 2012

Special Spring Produce

I love Spring.  I mean really, who doesn’t? Everything is blooming, flowers and trees of the like.  The mood and the air changes from the darker, heavier days of winter and we begin to shed our layers, external and internal.  There’s a palpable shift in energy in our relationships, often our jobs, and of course the most glaringly obvious place (at least to me!), the farmer’s market.

With warmer temperatures comes a bevy of some very special seasonal produce.  These items have a tiny window of life – they thrive at their peak and then they’re off again until next Spring.

Before I know it these guys are gone from the markets, so this year I wanted myself, and you, to be prepared for these vegetable gems to show up on weekend shopping trips.

Here are the Special Spring Produce:

Garlic scapes: These green alliums are the curled flower stalks of traditional garlic.  They add a light garlic bite and awesome crunch to any dish and go especially well in stir-fries and salads.  An economical option, you can usually snag a large amount of these guys for very little moolah.

Ramps: These wild leeks are a personal favorite of mine as they are easier to clean than traditional leeks and add that special something to any dish.  The flavor is quite pungent so you only need a small amount to go the distance.  The root and leaves are both delicious, so use the entire plant in your cooking.

Morels: This intensive cone-shaped spongy mushroom has some of the most mushroomy flavor one could ever hope for in a mushroom.  With a short season and hefty price tag these guys are worth the luxury vegetable splurge from time to time. Store them in a paper bag and use quickly after purchase.  They go especially well with another spring favorite, asparagus.

Fiddleheads: The most exotic of the bunch (and certainly the coolest name), fiddleheads are the tightly wound coils of ferns and are a delicious spring delicacy. They are a crunchy vegetable and taste a bit like a woodsy asparagus with a hint of spinach.  Be sure to rinse them well and I recommend blanching them before adding to any dish.

This article was originally written for and published by the on-line Magazine BellaLife.

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