How to Incorporate Spring and Summer Produce Into Your Diet
Now that spring is almost all the way here, it’s time to consider what you’re putting on your plate. Did you know that eating seasonal fruits and vegetables is not only better for the planet, it also tastes better? That’s because when fruits and vegetables are picked when they are naturally ripe, they are sweeter and contain more nutrition. When you select vegetables and fruit which are not in season, it means they are being picked early and transported to your local grocers from a great distance. When these fruits and veggies are stored for a long period, they become less flavorful, more fibrous, and lose phyto-nutrient content. Avoiding this is as simple as knowing what’s in season.
Vegetables and Fruit for Spring and Summer
Apricots: As spring begins to turn into summer, apricots are harvested in the warmer areas of the U.S.
Artichokes: The first harvest of artichokes happens in the spring and the second in the fall. When selected a good artichoke, look for compact leaves and make sure the stem ends appear fresh-cut.
Arugula: You might be seeing lots of arugula in the grocery store, because this peppery green is harvested in the coldest days of spring. You can taste the difference between arugula picked in the spring and arugula that is found in warmer weather. The latter tastes unusually bitter and looks limp.
Beets: Spring is the season for beets, although you can often find them in storage during the rest of the year. To tell the difference, look for beets that still have their greens attached.
Baby Carrots: Carrots are available year-round, but not all carrots are identical. Rainbow carrots are harvested in the colder weather and are common on the winter table. However, true baby carrots are harvested in spring and early summer when they are yanked from carrot fields to thin the rows. These sweet carrots are different than the “baby carrots” sold in packages by the grocery store.
Cherries: Late spring and summer is the best time to buy cherries. Bing, Rainier and sweet cherries flourish from May through August. If you’re a fan of sour cherries, they are only ripe for around two weeks, normally during June for warmer areas and July/August for northern regions of the country.
New Potatoes: These small potatoes with thin skins are versatile and perfect for lighter spring and summer fare. They come into their own during spring and summer.
Parsley: Parsley can usually be found all year, but it is at its freshest in early spring, especially in warm and temperate climates.
Peas: All varieties of peas are in season in spring and for most places long into midsummer.
Now that you know what to look for at the farmer’s market or grocery store, here are two sample recipes to try.
Recipes to Try
Spring Vegetable Salad
This recipe incorporates asparagus, peas, radishes, and Bibb lettuce, which all ripen in the spring.
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 bunch green asparagus
1 medium head broccoli
1/2 cup shelled fresh green peas
1 head Bibb lettuce
4 ounces wedge Parmesan cheese (or your favorite cheese)
Boil 4 quarts of water with the salt to a boil.
Trim the asparagus and then halve it diagonally. Cut the broccoli into bite-sized pieces.
Prepare for blanching the vegetables with a colander in a bowl of ice water.
After the water boils, blanch each green vegetable separately. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon to let the water drip. Blanch the peas after boiling for one minute, the broccoli after boiling for about 90 seconds, the asparagus after boiling for 1-2 minutes.
Let the blanched vegetables dry on a baking sheet or piece of parchment paper.
Next separate the Bibb lettuce from the outer leaves and wash thoroughly.
Shave radishes into paper thin slices.
Finally, assemble the salad and dress all of the vegetables with vinaigrette.
Garnish with shaved parmesan or your choice of cheese.
For the vinaigrette, choose lemon or orange, or make your own. A simple recipe for lemon vinaigrette is 1 minced shallot, 1 minced garlic clove, 2 tsp honey, the grated zest and juice of one lemon, 2 tsp of apple cider vinegar, ½ tsp of salt and ¼ tsp ground pepper.
Cherry Delight Sauce
This cherry sauce is ideal for most meats. It elevates a plain chicken or pork dish thanks to the delicious pairing of wine and cherries while the thyme and mustard keeps the sweet from overwhelming the mix. Pair your lightly-sauced meat with a suitable spring vegetable such as roasted baby carrots or new potatoes.
1 cup cherries, pitted
3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Combine cherries, water, wine, honey, red wine vinegar, thyme, mustard in a small pt. Add a bit of salt for taste.
Simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, and mash down cherries 5 minutes into the process.