Guess where I’m writing this from right now.

I’m outside the office and in the sun, sitting on a big pile of rocks with laptop appropriately on lap and an unsteady cup of hot tea perched near my knee.

It’s spring! Well, the “official” first day of spring is March 20th but the California side of the States took it upon itself to bloom a little prematurely. Really, it’s almost as though an explosion occurred simultaneously between all of the trees in the past few days. Sure, there are still a few naked, forlorn trees scattered here and there, but most of them are big mushroom clouds of flowers and flowers and flowers…

I digress. I’m sorry if you’re reading this from a part of the world that’s still damp and cold but it’s time to start talking spring produce.

We’ve already discussed the merits of eating seasonally and how to shop at farmers markets so there’s no need to go there right now. Let’s focus on the food. Depending on where you live, the range of fruits and vegetables you can find at your local market might vary but the following ingredients are generally understood to be the freshest and most available between now and the coming few months: 

An Overall List of Spring Produce:

  • Asparagus
  • Cabbage
  • Bigger greens, like collards, kale, mustard, and turnip
  • Leafy greens and lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries

Pacific Northwest Top 5:

  • Swiss Chard
  • Peas
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Radishes

West Top 5:

  • Cherries
  • Apricots
  • Basil
  • Artichokes
  • Okra

Southwest Top 5:

  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Swiss Chard
  • Beets
  • Garlic

Upper Midwest Top 5:

  • Arugula
  • Kale
  • Scallions
  • Rhubarb
  • Cauliflower

Mid-Atlantic Top 5:

  • Asparagus
  • Kale
  • Strawberries
  • Sugar and Snap Peas
  • Rhubarb

Northeast Top 5:

  • Asparagus
  • Lettuce and Mustard Greens
  • Turnips
  • Carrots
  • Garlic Scapes and Green Garlic

Southeast Top 5:

  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Peas

So, what are you up to this weekend? Might I suggest a stop-off at your local farmers market? Talk to one or many of the farmers there—they’re the ones who have been nurturing their crops through frigid winter weather and I’ll bet they’re pretty thrilled to see the literal fruits of their labor finally peeking through the soil.

Happy spring cooking!

Spring season recipes from around the web: 

First, a helpful article: Cooking with Spring Ingredients by Chow

Artichokes Braised in Lemon and Olive Oil via Smitten Kitchen: “Artichoke season can’t come soon enough for people like me, even if the best we usually get are cross-country, battered and overpriced visitors. It is never enough to deter me, and neither were these downright busted looking ones I saw at the store yesterday for a reduced price. I pounced on them, as even with shoddy leaves, their hearts are in the right place, that is, center and endlessly delicious.”

Spring Salad with Strawberry Lemon Basil Dressing via Oh She Glows: “Into the processor went fresh strawberries and basil, along with fresh lemon juice, a touch of olive oil, pure maple syrup, fine grain sea salt, & black pepper. It’s healthy and light, yet creamy and indulgent tasting. Definitely my new go-to dressing!” 

Swiss Chard and Chickpeas via Naturally Ella: “I’ve been eating fresh salads everyday and now I’m antsy for it to be May so I can have fresh produce every week!  I really want to focus this summer on healthy and easy vegetarian options from local produce.  This is my start! This meal is power packed between the chard and the garbanzo beans.  I happened to have some left over rice in the refrigerator to use in this meal but I think that quinoa or cous cous would be just as delicious! Bring on the sunshine and warm weather!”

Radish Couscous via Food52: “Lovely, fresh, delicious, and quick. The dark arugula and edamame spring greens mix prettily on my white salad plate beside the magenta radishes, and glistening little pearls of cous cous. Each bite has bounce, crunch, and creaminess, and is mixed with flavors that nicely balance between savory, sweet, bitter, spicy, and cucumber cool. The addition of avocado oil adds a pleasant depth to dressing without tilting its volume a bit. This salad can be made in less than 30 minutes, and would be perfect for a light week night dinner” 

Quinoa with Chickpeas, Asparagus, and Fresh Peas via The Kitchn: “What I love most about this recipe is that it's such a colorful celebration of the season, but also that the dressing is such a simple, bright dash of lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper. For vegetarians and meat eaters alike, this recipe is spring encapsulated.”

Rhubarb & Strawberry Lemonade via Green Kitchen Stories: “I believed that making lemonade was complicated. But it’s really not. You boil fruit and spices with water and some kind of sweetener, strain it through a sieve and serve with lots of ice. The result is a thousand times better than the supermarket version. Plus your kitchen will smell divine from the fruit and spices. This lemonade is flavored with lime, mint leaves, ginger and vanilla, which gives it a sweet (but not too sweet) and very refreshing taste. All together it was great experience making this lemonade. The only boring part is drinking it alone …”

Cover Photo By: Kinfolk


About the Author

Sarah Jung

Sarah Jung is the associate director of Life and Health Network but wears a plethora of hats as editor, communications director, and sometimes photographer. Unrelated to Life and Health, Sarah is the country director and founding member of Oon Jai Foundation, a non-profit organization that seeks to empower people living in developing countries through friendship and working, learning, and mentoring side-by-side with the locals. In her spare time, Sarah likes to read, write, and find mountains to climb.

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