Spring Food

As is typical for May, summer is arriving at the market way before the weather has caught up. But it’s clear that spring produce is on its way out and I want to take a moment to look back at some of what I enjoyed cooking (and eating!) this spring before summer truly takes over. I’m still buying asparagus (this is its last week!) and fava beans, but summer is clearly starting to dominate.

As an example of how quickly the market is changing, here’s a look at what I bought in April:

artichokes (a bit hidden on the far left), lettuces, snap peas, shelling peas, cucumbers, avocados, asparagus, fresh shallots and green garlic. The only real fruit, for a few weeks at least, was strawberries.

And this is what I brought home last Saturday:

asparagus, green garlic, fava beans, endive, as well as peaches, raspberries, blueberries, tomatoes and summer squash.

So before spring fully submits to summer, here’s some of what we enjoyed these last few months. (A companion post looking at what we ate in winter is here).

Green Garlic Soup – This Spring was particularly rainy and cold, so we frequently made this green garlic soup with potatoes and asparagus (and peas if we had them on hand). Super satisfying.

Zuni’s Asparagus, Pancetta and Rice Soup – This easy soup is a spring favorite and it comes together so quickly that it’s a good weekday meal. It’s punched up by LOTS of fresh ground pepper.

Pasta with Fava Beans, Tomatoes and Sausage – I clipped this pasta recipe out of Bon Appetit Magazine years ago and nearly forgot about it this year. I don’t usually think about pairing fava beans and tomato sauce but, particularly with sausage, it works.

Artichokes – This year, I finally learned to really pare the ‘chokes down (I never wanted to waste any part of the artichoke before — and I hated pulling off so many leaves!) but this method gets to the heart of the ‘choke. Mr. WholeHog tended to braise the quartered artichoke hearts in lemon and olive oil and then serve them their own, in pasta, or in a farro salad (as pictured above).

Fava Bean and Strawberry salad – It’s easy to find dessert recipes for strawberries but I love this salad for making strawberries into something more savory. The recipe is from Chris Cosentino, who we often see at the Saturday farmers market (and we run into him often because we live across the street from his restaurant.)

Roasted carrot salad –  A Lovely Morning inspired me to make this simple salad of roast carrots, fennel, cumin, chickpeas, cilantro and lime. This first time I made this salad, I’d intended to take for lunch the next day but it was so good that we ended up eating it that very night. It’s also one of those handy salads that is very easy to adapt to whatever you’ve got on hand. I skipped the fennel once, and it was great. Another time, I used lemon instead of lime and it was still delicious. Since carrots aren’t limited to the spring, I think I’ll be making this salad year-round.

Another meal that isn’t limited to springtime is the macaroni and cheese I made recently (using the recipe in The Art of Simple Food). But mac and cheese goes perfectly with a crisp, spring salad and given this particularly cold May, it still felt very appropriate for the season.

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