These days you can find just about any vegetable available any time during the year, however, if you shop for vegetables that are only in-season, you’ll find that the flavor is stronger and you’ll enjoy each bite so much more. It’s great to know what are the best, most seasonal vegetables to choose every season, and you can plan your menus around those seasonal ingredients. This will make your meals fresh and delicious, and you’ll have a good variety of healthy foods so nothing feels too repetitive or boring. If you aren’t sure what to pick this time of year, here are three amazingly delicious vegetables that you can add to a lot of great recipes this spring.
When you walk through the vegetable section in your supermarket, you’ll notice that the asparagus tends to be small and less flavorful in the winter. However, in spring it really comes into its own and you’ll see thicker, more flavorful stalks to enjoy with any meal. Asparagus is a wonderful veggie to cook up all spring season, with tons of great recipes and different ways to enjoy this healthy and hearty vegetable.
When you are looking to select the right bunch of asparagus, make sure to look for stalks that are dry with tight tips, and they shouldn’t have any odor. To store your stalks, simply wrap the ends in a wet paper towel and place in a plastic bag. You can then store your asparagus in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Of course, since you only have four days, you’ll want to plan those menus quickly and be prepared to use them right away. Asparagus is delicious steamed with just a little salt, or sautéed lightly with garlic or even roasted with a little salt and pepper. Get creative with asparagus soup or make a bacon, asparagus and goat cheese pizza for an amazing home cooked dinner. Really, there are so many delicious ways to cook asparagus that even those thin winter stalks are still worth it, but in spring they are something truly special.
Artichokes are another very special vegetable that get bigger and more flavorful when they are in season. You’ll often see sales in the spring on artichokes, and you’ll love steaming up a fresh one or two for a side dish or even a main dish for a light spring meal.
Look for artichokes that are full and plum with tight leaves. Pick them up and make sure they feel a little heavy, then pull back one leaf and look for blemishes that look black in color. You’ll likely see some discoloration no matter what, but avoid any that have bigger spots of discoloration under the leaves. Keep your artichokes dry in plastic and you can store them for about a week in the refrigerator. When you are ready to enjoy this burst of spring flavor, simply chop the end off the artichoke and trim the leaves down a bit.
You can steam the full head until soft and enjoy the leaves with your favorite dipping sauce. You can also trim down the leaves to get to the choke, where there is even more flavor. Those artichoke hearts can be used in everything from dips to stir fry to salads and more. Really, there is no limit to the use of a fresh, delicious artichoke. And this popular vegetable is a great source of fiber, vitamin C and magnesium. So what are you waiting for?
Spinach is pretty much available year-round, but it is in-season in the spring, when the leaves are a little brighter and the flavor is a little stronger. Everyone knows that spinach is a very healthy vegetable, as it’s a great source of iron, fiber and vitamins A and C, plus it’s great for lots of different recipes.
Look for fresh, green, crisp bunches of spinach with no damage to the leaves then store by wrapping in a damp paper towel and refrigerating for up to five days.
Since you’ll want to use your spinach quickly, start thinking of all the different uses for this healthy leaf. Try raw spinach in your salads like this one with warm bacon dressing, sautéed spinach or creamed spinach for side dishes or add wilted spinach as a pop of color and flavor to just about any main course. There are lots of tasty ways to use this healthy treat.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
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