My favorite thing about shopping the farmers market? There’s no choice but to cook (and eat) with the seasons. When I’m shopping a conventional grocery store in the dead of winter, it can be all too tempting to add a few tomatoes or strawberries to my cart. And although they may appear fresh and vibrant, once I get them home, I’m reminded of the mealy texture and lackluster flavor that accompanies out-of-season produce that’s been pumped with preservatives. A farmer’s market, on the other hand, typically stocks what’s been fresh-picked locally, which equates to produce that’s so packed-with-flavor, usually all it needs is a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, or a sprinkle of salt to enhance it. So, what fruits and vegetables are in season in spring?
Get excited, because spring is when nature really loves to show off. Think snappy carrots, peppery arugula, and sweeter-than-candy strawberries.
What Fruits and Vegetables Are In Season In Spring?
click on each ingredient below to go straight to that section:
Are you as ready for it all as I am? An added bonus is that shopping seasonally takes the guesswork out of meal planning. If you’re not sure what to cook, just make what’s freshest! With Mother’s Day, Easter, and plenty of al fresco dinners on the horizon, I’m particularly excited to cook up all the warm-weather recipes using what fruits and vegetables are in season in spring. And no, you don’t have to hit up the farmer’s market every week to cook this way. I subscribe to a twice-monthly CSA box that ensures the freshest local produce gets delivered to my doorstep, and many normal grocery stores have started stocking more local produce. Just look for the signs, and when in doubt, ask! Scroll on for the lowdown on spring’s starring fruits and veggies, plus my favorite recipes to cook with them. Cocktails included.
How to Buy Strawberries
A fresh strawberry has a strong fragrant taste and vibrant color. Look for the berries that are firm to touch, medium-sized, and free of bruises.
What to Cook With Strawberries
This recipe combines just a handful of ingredients for minimal effort and maximum impact. Feel free to swap in whatever combination of peppery greens, fresh fruit, nuts, and cheese you have on hand – it’s an infinitely versatile and crowd-pleasing combination.
The classic combination of flaky biscuit, creamy yogurt, and sweet strawberries are perfect for a spring picnic when layered in a mason jar.
How to Buy Artichokes
There’s actually a huge difference between a good and not-so-good artichoke. I always go for the biggest artichoke I can find which usually means more meat on each leaf. Look for artichokes with tight, compact leaves and fresh-cut stem ends.
What to Cook With Artichokes
Earthy and nutty and tasting of the promise of sunshine. You can make a light meal of these artichokes with some crusty bread, or serve them alongside grilled, herb-rubbed steak.
Roasted Lemon Artichoke and Brown Butter Pasta, by Half Baked Harvest
Roasted artichokes, fresh herbs, buttery walnuts, and a little bit of burrata cheese too. It’s a fresh springy take on pasta, that’s ready in 30 minutes. Perfect as a quick meatless dinner that’s special enough for any day of the week.
How to Buy Fennel
Look for white bulbs that are small to medium-sized to narrow down your selection of fennel. Next, check that the bulbs are heavy and firm and not super large, moist, or dried out. You’ll want to make sure that the bulbs you take home have bright green fronds, as well.
What to Cook With Fennel
My favorite way to serve dinner to my family and friends is with an impressive (but so easy) whole roasted side of salmon topped with citrus slices. I used to be all about a quick broil with high heat that got the top of the salmon crispy golden-brown and left the inside tender… but then I experimented with this slow-roasting method, and I became an instant convert.
Chef Seamus Mullen served this bright and citrus-y radish, fennel, and grapefruit salad as one of the family-style dishes at a dinner party he hosted in Santa Monica, California. It’s made from just a handful of spring’s freshest ingredients, and comes together as so much more than the sum of its parts. Peppery radish and fennel are balanced by the richness of the avocado for a first course or side dish that pairs perfectly with roast chicken, salmon, or lamb.
How to Buy Asparagus
Texture, color, and size are the giveaways of a fresh bundle of asparagus. You’ll want to select stalks that are firm and smooth, and can even stand up on their own. They should be a strong green, only fading to white at the ends. As far as the tips, some dark green and purple highlights are normal, but make sure that they are closed together, not spreading apart. Finally, any size of asparagus will be flavorful, but selecting a bundle with stalks of cohesive size will make your prep and cooking easier.
What to Cook With Asparagus
The goji chipotle dressing is a good one to double and keep in the fridge all week – ditto with the spicy pepitas which I store in the freezer (though you can also just throw in a handful of toasted pumpkin seeds.) Since I don’t stick to a vegan diet, I use real mozzarella and just a bit of crumbled bacon in this, but the coconut bacon is a pretty delish plant-based option if that’s your jam. In other words, there are a million ways to make this salad work for you.
This pasta is perfect for warm weather entertaining — it’s light but so satisfying, and feels a little bit elevated even though it comes together 20 minutes. It’s one of those “set it in the middle of the table and watch your friends dive in” kind of dinners, served family-style with a good bottle of crisp white wine.
How to Buy Arugula
Fresh arugula will have a peppery, clean scent and is bright and dry looking. Arugula perishes very quickly, so check for signs of wilting before purchasing.
What to Cook With Arugula
Let’s be honest: spaghetti squash can be pretty bland. It has a really high water-content — which is also one of the things that makes it healthy and low-calorie — but that requires adding layers of flavor through the other ingredients. Enter bacon: even just a little bit adds a level of richness that completely transforms light dishes. Sautéing the vegetables in just the tiniest bit of the bacon fat infuses the entire dish with so much flavor and makes it taste way more indulgent than it actually is.
The greens turn this comfort food into a full-blown plant-packed meal. I love arugula for it’s sharp, peppery flavor and it perfectly balances the sweetness of the other toppings on every slice. Since this pizza doesn’t have any sauce, I added a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic glaze to finish it off. Adding some crushed red pepper and fresh oregano brings the flavors in this pie to the next level.
How to Buy Mint
The best mint leaves are perky, even-colored, and oozing with that distinct minty smell. Make sure that the leaves aren’t wilting and be sure to handle them with care, since the leaves are where the oils are.
What to Cook With Mint
This recipe has been keeping me from getting too homesick for tacos, and I also love that it’s packed with crisp, fresh veggies so we can keep it in our regular rotation without it feeling like an indulgence.
Low in calories and high in wow-factor, this flavorful salmon and watermelon dish is the perfect go-to summer celebration main course for many reasons, but these are my top three:
- Because it’s delicious.
- Because it’s beautiful.
- Because it only takes 30 minutes to make…and that’s if you’re drinking!
How to Buy Peas
The shell is the main indicator of fresh peas. Stay away from yellow or blotchy spots and look for peas that are shiny, firm, and bright green.
What to Cook With Peas
I’m switching up the original by adding more veggies and bright bursts of green that scream “spring”. Frozen peas are my favorite shortcut veggie for throwing into pasta – no chopping required, and they add color, nutrients, and my kids love them in everything.
The simplest side dish you’ll ever make. This spring rice is amazing on its own, or topped with chicken or salmon for more substantial meal.
How to Buy Radishes
Go for crisp, brightly colored radishes ideally with fresh vibrant greens still attached.
What to Cook With Radishes
On busy mornings, there’s no faster breakfast option than slathering something on a piece of bread, so why not give your simple toast a little revamp? This herbed goat cheese & radish tartine feels like a fancy and nourishing way to start the day, and it’s so much better than zapping a bowl of instant oatmeal.
You might think I’ve lost it, but these days I get really excited about a loaf of stale bread. One bite of this salad, though, and you’ll get it. Crisp, peppery, bright radishes and the subtle licorice kick of fennel punch up tangy, olive oil-drenched croutons, with herbs, just-bitter-enough radicchio, and salty cheese further mixing up the dynamic.
How to Buy Onions
Look for firm and dry onions with shiny and super thin skin. If it is discolored, soft, or wet in any way, it isn’t fresh.
What to Cook With Onions
The Aloha Tuna Poké Bowl at Honest Mary’s in Austin is a summer staple that’s healthy, delicious, and surprisingly easy to make at home. Since many of us are at home now more than ever, we’ve all been a little more inclined to experiment with new recipes, and this poke bowl adds a little adventure to lunch or dinner if you find yourself running out of fresh ideas for recipes.
All you really need to whip up a delicious frittata are eggs and veggies. And I do mean any veggies. I used to make them all the time in college, scrounging up whatever random ingredients were left in my veg drawer: cauliflower, wilted greens, onions, sliced potatoes, those lifeless asparagus spears on their last legs. And you know what? With a little know-how and some seasonings from your pantry, they’re all delicious folded into fluffy eggs.
How to Buy Carrots
Steer away from the packaged “baby carrots” at grocery store, and instead choose the real baby carrots with green tops, if you can find them! Otherwise, vivid color and snappy texture point to a sweeter flavor.
What to Cook With Carrots
“I’ve made this beautiful fresh carrot salad that I like to make at home for my family. I julienne carrots and serve it with an aleppo citrus vinaigrette, some dates, red onion and crushed walnut.” — Eden Grinshpan
No matter where you fall in the carrots debate, this pan sauce is one to bookmark for any fall veggie. I’ve made this exact combo to pour over delicata squash, whole roasted sweet potatoes, and sautéed brussels sprouts. The marriage of sweet – spicy – citrus – sage is such a crowd-pleaser, and it’s an easy way to take any side dish to the next level and make it feel holiday worthy. Feel free to swap pecans for pumpkin seeds, or maple syrup for honey, based on what you’ve got in your pantry.
Are you as excited as I am for what fruits and vegetables are in season in spring? Drop a comment with the recipe you can’t wait to make.