After a long, cold winter, the warmer weather is welcome, as is the spring produce it brings. It’s time to ditch the heavy comfort food of autumn and winter and transition into lighter fare with the fruits and vegetables of the early spring harvest. The wonderful thing about Mother Nature is that she provides us what we need to eat, exactly when we need to eat it. These spring vegetables will help spring clean the body and prepare it for the warm months ahead.
10 Spring Vegetables to Add to your Diet Right Now.
Onions – Leeks, spring onions, vidalias, and ramps are all in season in the early spring. I even have some wild onion grass growing in my yard. Vegetables from the allium family, which includes onions, garlic and chives, are very cleansing and are they’re known to have numerous health benefits. Because of their pungent flavor, not everyone likes them raw, but they can be eaten raw or cooked – in salads, in sauces, on sandwiches, and in stir-fries to name a few types of dishes. While most onions are available year round, they’re at their peak in the spring, and ramps are only available for a very short time at the start of the season.
Garlic Scapes – Falling into the allium family, garlic scapes have many of the same health benefits as onions. Garlic scapes are the stalks that grow out of hardneck garlic, and if left untrimmed, they will bloom flowers in late spring. Garlic scapes taste just like garlic, and they can be used in the same way as garlic in just about any recipe. Try them in pesto, on pizzas, and in spring rolls.
Asparagus – Although asparagus is available year round, these tall stalks are at their peak from March through June. Asparagus is high in fiber, iron, B vitamins and Vitamin C. I love to roast or grill asparagus. It’s also wonderful when lightly sautéed.
Watercress – I once went to an Eddie Izzard show where he talked about watercress for about 20 minutes. The first part of the talk about was about growing it in school as a child, and the rest was a poke at himself for spending so much time talking about it and boring the audience. (I wasn’t bored.) If only we grew vegetables in school in the US – kids would have much more of an understanding of nutrition! Watercress is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and it’s also a good source of calcium. Watercress makes for a great salad base, and it’s also good in cooked dishes, as well.
Radishes – The flavor of radishes can vary from mild to sharp, depending on the type. Radishes are a root vegetable, but don’t throw those tops away! The greens are edible, too. Radishes are loaded with vitamin C, which makes them excellent for building the immune system. The can be eaten raw, cooked, or even pickled.
Artichokes – Artichokes crops peak from March through May. These green globes are a great source of iron, potassium, magnesium, folate, and vitamin C. They’re also high in fiber and low in calories. Artichokes are great in salads, and they’re also wonderful when baked, stuffed, or tossed in pasta dishes.
Morel Mushrooms – Morels require very specific growing conditions, and they’re not as readily available in grocery stores as other types of mushrooms. They’re considered a springtime delicacy, and they can often be found at farmers markets throughout the early spring. Morels are known for their spongy texture and honeycomb appearance. They’re high in copper, iron, manganese, and phosphorous. They pair well with other spring time veggies, and are delicious in pastas, salads, and sautées.
Fiddleheads – Fiddleheads are one of those vegetables that I see at the grocery store and am always interested in buying, but I’m not exactly sure what to do with them. In my research I’ve learned that they’re delicious when sautéed or stir-fried, and they work well with pasta and in soup. They’re an excellent source of B vitamins, vitamin C, and manganese, and they’re loaded with copper, phosphorous and potassium, as well.
Fennel – Because of its licorice-like flavor, fennel can be an acquired taste. It’s good source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. I like to serve fennel raw in salads, or caramelized in pasta dishes. Don’t throw the fronds away! They make great garnishes.
Of course, there are many more vegetables in season this spring than what I’ve listed here. What are your favorites?