With the days now getting longer, it also means that your grocery store produce section is getting much more exciting, with the addition of bright and colorful spring-fresh ingredients. But with your selection of delicious produce ingredients increasing, which ones should you reach for to add a little extra flavor to your Spring recipes? In this article, we take a look at spring-fresh ingredients that you can add to your salads, oven bakes, rice bowls, or as sides to your favorite poultry.
Most restaurants have you most commonly associating artichokes with delicious, creamy dips, when in fact, they’re a versatile, healthy and delicious food. Cooked artichokes have endless uses, and can be enjoyed by themselves, in hummus, as a side dish, stuffed in portobello mushrooms, and much more.
ClassPass.com tells us more about why you should be reaching for artichokes while they’re still in season:
“You might have enjoyed the canned version in your spinach and artichoke dips over the football-watching months, but the fresh kind are optimal from March to June (and back again in the fall). And, when they’re not coupled with heavy cream and mozzarella, artichokes are super healthy. In fact, one ‘choke alone offers up 10 grams of fiber along with a boatload of vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate vitamin B-6, B-12, A, E, D and K. And, because they’re known to have the highest antioxidant level out of all vegetables, they defend your immune system like no other.”
While you may not have previously heard of fiddleheads, they are a spring-only vegetable with a unique flavor. The flavor of fiddleheads has been described as grassy with a hint of nuttiness, which some say resembles an artichoke. In other words, the perfect spring produce to accompany your dishes!
The Old Farmer’s Almanac tells us more about this unique spring vegetable:
“Fiddleheads are the first wild edible of spring but only last a few weeks. They are the furled fronds of the young ostrich fern, harvested for use as a vegetable. They make great pickles and a delicious vegetable side dish. Look for fiddleheads in local farmers’ markets. If you forage, fiddleheads are the very top of a young ostrich fern and must be picked before unfurling. Forage with an expert and know exactly what you’re looking for; fiddleheads of most other ferns are toxic and there are a few species that look similar to the ostrich fern when young.”
Fennel is a vegetable that is usually only offered in the spring and contains a unique blend of phytonutrients, which the flavonoids rutin, quercetin, and various kaempferol glycosides. This makes this spring vegetable a powerful antioxidant and a great mild addition to spring recipes.
Melissa d’Arabian of the Food Network explains how to best use fennel in your spring recipes:
“Most people describe the flavor of fennel as “licorice-like,” but I want you non licorice-lovers to try this underused vegetable too (before it goes out of season this summer), because the flavor truly is mild. The bulb is the main attraction (cored and quartered), although the fronds make for a nice herbal garnish in dishes. (I’ve yet to be convinced that the stalk is worth eating, but I’m open to listening to stalk enthusiasts who have a recipe that will change my mind). Fennel is best served either raw — use a mandoline to shave it thinly, then drizzle lemon, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper on top — or try it roasted. Toss the fennel bulb quarters in extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and roast until caramelized and tender, about 20 minutes.”
Want to see which of your favorite restaurants are incorporating this gorgeous spring ingredients into their recipes? If you’re looking for more recipe inspiration or you want to see where you can enjoy a top-quality meal at your favorite restaurant, check out our list of all restaurants to compare food menus.