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Tasty Secrets for Cooking Spring Produce

Spring produce is popping up in grocery stores and farmer’s markets. Lush, green vegetables like spinach, leeks, peas, artichokes, and asparagus are at their best in spring. Get the most flavor and nutrition into your meals with these simple guidelines.

Asparagus

What to look for: At its peak from March to May, look for firm, crisp stalks with tight, fully closed budding tips. There’s little flavor difference between stalks, whether they’re long or short, thick or thin.

Why you’ll love it: Asparagus is packed with nutrients. It’s high in fiber and vitamin K.

How to cook it: Broil, steam, grill, roast, or sauté this versatile veggie. Make Asparagus 5 Ways.

Asparagus

Leeks

What to look for: Leeks are available year-round, but March and April are their peak season. Shop for slender, straight leeks. The top leaves should be bright green. Avoid wilted or yellowing tops.

Why they’re great: They’re a member of the onion family, but have a milder taste. Bonus: They won’t sting your eyes!

How to cook them: Their long shape tends to hold a lot of dirt and sand—make sure to rinse thoroughly before cooking! To prep, slice off the ends, then slice off the dark green leaves. Try Baked Salmon with Creamy Leeks. The garlic in the cream brings out the sweet flavor from the leeks.

Leeks

Peas

What to look for: Peas have a short season, from April until July. They’re best in May. Seek out bright green, shiny, firm pods that squeak when you rub two of them together. Snap one open and see if it’s crisp.

Why you’ll love them: They make lovely crudité with dip, tossed in salads, or served as a side dish.

How to cook them: Boil them for two to three minutes, drain, and serve. Substitute frozen peas for fresh in this yummy Hawaiian Fried Cauliflower “Rice.

Peas 

Spinach

What to look for: A cool spring delivers the tender green leaves to farmer’s markets. You want spinach with dark green leaves. Avoid anything yellowed, wilted, or slimy. (Eww!)

Why you’ll love it: Spinach is rich in antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, and iron. It fights certain cancers, boosts eye health, increases muscle efficiency, and has strong anti-aging properties.

How to cook it: A quick sauté in a nonstick skillet with oil and garlic makes an easy side to any meal. Leave it raw in a salad. Or try this stunning Pan-Roasted Vegetables with Spinach recipe.

Spinach

Artichokes

What to look for: These strange members of the sunflower family are available year-round, but crops peak from March til May. A large artichoke provides about 2 ounces of edible flesh. You’ll know it’s fresh if it feels heavy for its size.

Why you’ll love it: Don’t let its thorny exterior scare you. These are delish and packed with fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K. And they’re ranked 7 on the USDA’s top 20 antioxidant-rich foods list.

How to cook it: Steaming is an easy, low-cal way to keep color, nutrients, and flavor in your artichokes. Bring 1½ quarts (6 cups) of water to a boil in a covered stockpot. Steam four medium artichokes (about 10 ounces each) for 30–35 minutes in the 12” Steamer. Pierce the bottoms with a knife to check for tenderness.

How to EAT it: Scrape the white flesh off the individual leaf petals with your teeth. To get to the meaty heart, remove the soft leaves from the top. Gently remove the white fuzzy “choke” with a spoon, cut up the heart, and dig in.

Wine and Cheese 

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2 Responses to Tasty Secrets for Cooking Spring Produce

  1. Tamara Lawler April 9, 2016 at 11:11 pm #

    Eating vegetables have never sounded so inspiring and fun as these!! Let’s try these great options together!!

  2. Marian April 10, 2016 at 12:16 pm #

    Twice baked potatoes

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