It is officially spring and with that comes a special kind of food abundance. This is the time of year when we start to embrace the first fresh bits of greenery from the garden and local farms. Spring seasonal eating means less eating from the preserved pantry and more enjoyment direct from the ground to our kitchen.
The thing about seasonal eating is that it is very local – what is in-season for me in northwest Montana isn’t necessarily the same thing as what’s in season in south Florida. Always look to your local area first and eat what’s local and in-season whenever possible. This list is a guideline, not a hard and fast rule. Most of these foods are going to be in-season in Spring for most everyone, but remember strawberries are going to be earlier in the south and later in the north.
- Cultivated Greens: spinach, orach, kale
- Wild Greens: Dandelion, sorrel, chickweed, violets, fiddlehead ferns, nettles
- Herbs: Chives, mint, lemon balm, lovage
- Fruits: Strawberries, rhubarb
- Vegetables: Radishes, peas, leeks, asparagus, green onions, potatoes
- Wild Mushrooms: Morels, chanterelles
- Eggs: Local eggs might be more prevalent as longer daylight hours take hold
Spring Meal Planning
Spring meals tend to become lighter in nature. We move away gradually from hearty soups and thick casseroles to salads and simple preparations. Use the foods from the earth in easy ways to allow for more time outside and in the garden. This isn’t usually the time for long, slow cooked meals but rather raw or quickly cooked items to let natural flavors shine through.
Greens tend to be earlier in the garden and in the wild than most anything else. Big green salads with some slices of radishes, raw peas, and torn bits of fresh herbs are a great start. Put a little homemade dressing on there and call it a side. Add some bits of protein (meat, cheese, nuts, legumes) and call it the main dish. Keep greens washed and chopped in the fridge for quick meal prep. Invest in a salad spinner to remove excess moisture – the greens will last so much longer this way.
Take advantage of the abundance of local eggs. Make quiches, frittatas, and more by mixing local greens with the eggs for added frugal nutrition. These tend to be protein packed and filling. A couple hard boiled eggs, tossed into a salad, with a few pickles left from last year’s canning efforts is an easy, filling, and delicious packed lunch.
The air is still cool many days especially in the early spring and soup is always warming and tasty. In the spring, move away from heavier cream soups and eat soups with lots of broth and fresh vegetables. Puree simple ingredients (peas, broth, onions, garlic, spices) for thinner but still filling soups.
Take advantage of all the fresh greens and herbs of spring by making up large batches of pesto. Pesto is delicious served over pasta, of course, but is also great on salads, baked potatoes, rice, and more. Use pesto instead of tomato sauce on a pizza, thin it out with a little more oil and it makes an amazing salad dressing. It freezes extremely well making it an ideal and easy spring food preservation project.
Quick & Easy
For many of us, the outdoors beckon strongly in the spring. We want to eat food that fuels our activities and can be prepared quickly. Think quickly steamed peas and pan-fried meats as a simple but delicious dinner that can be done in less than 15 minutes. Keep greens and other veggies chopped in the fridge to toss together quick salads.
Whirl the strawberries in the blender with some ice and yogurt for a creamy, cool dessert or snack. Mix rhubarb with berries in pies or crisps. Top cakes and ice cream with the fresh fruits and bits of herbs to truly bask in the glow of the season’s sweet treats.
Preserve Spring for Later
Spring is a season of abundance make the most of it by enjoying every bit of it now and also by saving some for later. Make jams from the strawberries and rhubarb. Freeze the pesto. Dehydrate the herbs. Do as much or as little as you’re inclined but you won’t regret having that mint in the dried in the pantry for winter tea or having the pesto to toss into a winter casserole.
Forget all the hype and trendiness of local, seasonal eating this spring. Rather, simply get out in the yard and local community to bring the freshness into your own kitchen. It’s easy to make the most of those delicious fresh bits from the earth after a long winter with these spring seasonal eating tips.
What’s your favorite way to embrace spring seasonal eating?
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