Apr 21, 2020

What’s in Season: Spring at the Farmer’s Market

Flowers are blooming and the temperatures are heating up, melting any remnants of snow around the country – what’s not to love about spring?

Of course spring produce becomes available, making the transition from root vegetables and winter citrus to fresh and vibrant offerings like peas, apricots and cherries. I love all the amazing fresh fruits and vegetables spring has to offer.

Now more than ever it’s important to visit your local farmers market for fresh produce. In a time where restaurants are forced to shut down due to the spread of COVID-19, many farms have lost a large source of their income – they have an excess of produce and nowhere to send it. Now more than ever it is important to support local farms who are struggling in this period of uncertainty.

In turn for supporting local farms you end up with great fresh produce to use – it’s a win/win! An easy way to support farms is to order a CSA box (community supported agriculture) filled with an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms. In Los Angeles, farms like Schaner Farm Stand and County Line Harvest are offering great options! While some farm stands accept credit cards, I’d recommend bringing cash for most of your shopping.

California strawberries are my favorite – they’re insanely juicy and sweet. In addition to farmer’s markets and grocery stores they can often be found on roadside stands sold directly from the farmers. A lot of the state’s strawberries are grown close to where my husband grew up in Ventura county. Whenever we are over that way, we pick up some berries.

In addition to so many of the amazing and fresh spring produce that are widely available there are a few specific ingredients that are often hard to find out of season or anywhere other than farmer’s markets, so I always pick up whenever I see them.

  • If you see ramps, fiddleheads or morels make sure you grab some. You can figure out what to do with them later! Since they are foraged rather than harvested, they are not as readily available.
  • Fiddleheads can be found during a few weeks in May.
  • Ramps are typically available for six weeks starting in April.
  • Morels can be found throughout the spring and then are available dried year-round.

For farm fresh summer produce like peaches, eggplant, green beans, summer squash and more check out my post about summer seasonal offerings here.

What's in Season Spring at the Farmers Market-19.jpg

Why cook with seasonal produce? 

These days there are a ton of ingredients that are available year-round at grocery stores. I never gave it much thought until I spent time working with Chef Anne Willan, and she emphasized the importance of using seasonal ingredients. The benefit of this practice is that you end up with ingredients at their peak. No more white tomatoes or gritty apples. Eating food at its ripest gives you the best quality ingredients to cook with.

Using seasonal ingredients also benefits the environment, since by eating what is in season locally means that produce doesn’t have to be shipped around the world. This isn’t to say I don’t still indulge in imported ingredients. But there has to be some give and take, and I try to be mindful of that.

What is this?  

While this is in no way a complete comprehensive list of all seasonal produce, my goal is to highlight a few ingredients that shine during each season. Keep in mind that for the most part seasonality of vegetables and fruits can differ between geographical regions. To search your location and see all produce in season monthly by state, check out this chart: https://www.seasonalfoodguide.org

What’s in season in spring? 

  • Apricots
  • Artichokes
  • Arugula
  • Asparagus
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cherries
  • Fava Beans
  • Fiddleheads
  • Green garlic
  • Morels
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Ramps
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach

Recipe ideas for seasonal spring produce: 

Spring Lamb Pasta with Peas and Greens 

This pasta is inspired by the advent of spring, combining a homemade lamb sausage mixture with tender peas, shallots and greens in a light and cheesy sauce.

Buttermilk-Brined Curry-Spiced Chicken with Spring Vegetables

Buttermilk brine does wonders for a roast chicken. While salt helps to keep the chicken moist as well as seasoned, the acid from the buttermilk works to tenderize it.

Ramp Pesto Spaghetti with Burrata

In this recipe ramps shine as a pesto, a seasonal spring ingredient paired with pancetta and burrata tossed with spaghetti.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

I prefer jams that don’t go as heavy on the added sugar; I like to let the sweetness of the fruit (namely the strawberries here) shine.

Roast Chicken and Gnocchi “Dumplings”

I loved how the classic hearty dish was reinvented but unfortunately the next time I went back to the restaurant the dish was no longer on the menu.

Spring Veggie Quinoa Bowl with Burrata

This recipe combines spinach leaves with quinoa and harissa spiced chickpeas tossed in carrot-orange vinaigrette with sautéed asparagus and mushrooms and fresh peas topped off with creamy burrata.

Quick-Braised Baby Artichokes with Burrata

This classic Roman dish of braised baby artichokes is paired with creamy burrata and grilled bread for a delectable appetizer – it features baby artichokes, one of my favorite spring ingredients.

Green Grilled Spring Veggie Pizza

This pizza might be filled with veggies but the addition of the black truffle salt and creamy burrata cheese makes it a little more extravagant.

Pasta with Gorgonzola, Asparagus & Pea Shoots

I like Gorgonzola because it is so smooth and buttery; it is easily melted to make this sauce.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot cake is my favorite type of cake. My mom always makes it for me when I come home for my birthday. I love that carrot cake isn’t overly sweet but it also doesn’t taste like carrots.

spicy green herbed crispy rice sweet potato bowl with spicy yogurt

Spicy Green Herbed Crispy Rice Sweet Potato Bowl with Spicy Yogurt

A spicy green herb mixture is stirred into crispy rice and topped with roasted sweet potato wedges and a drizzle of sriracha yogurt.

Crispy Salmon with Soy Tamarind Sauce over Sautéed Spinach

The salmon is coated in cornstarch and pan-fried until a crisp, outer shell forms and then it is served with a side of garlic sautéed spinach and jasmine rice topped with a sweet and sour soy tamarind sauce.

Crispy Cauliflower Bites

These crispy battered and fried cauliflower bites tossed in homemade buffalo sauce are a great vegetarian alternative to buffalo chicken wings.  

Sheet Pan Roast Chicken and Spring Vegetables with Carrot Top and Walnut Pesto

In this recipe a whole chicken is broken down and arranged on a sheet pan with an assortment of spring vegetables and lemon.

Bagna Cauda Crudité Platter

Bagna Cauda is a dish from the Piedmont region of Northwest Italy.

Grilled Artichokes with Lemon Dressing & Pecorino

Artichokes are in season in spring and are a delicious additions to delicious dips, pasta, pizzas or eaten on their own.

Other Seasonal Guides

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

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