Asparagus is the vegetable I always hear stories about, like the wild aspragus that use to grow out to my aunt and uncles or the “hurry up and pick before anyone else sees it” stories. I really the crisp, earthy taste of simple roasted aspragus and I feel that it is definitely one the treats of spring. Make sure to get smaller stalks of asparagus: as aspragus grows, it becomes woody and inedible.
Asparagus can be preserved by either canning or by freezing. To freeze, simply cut into even piece, blanch or steam for 2-3 minutes, pour into an ice bath, pat of excess moisture, and place in a freezable container. Canning takes a bit of special care but there are good instructions on the Year of Plenty site!
My recipes for Asparagus.
I have a really bad (well, not really bad) habit of simply roasting asparagus with a bit of olive oil and salt. Fresh asparagus rarely makes it in to recipes!
Recipes from Around the Web:
- Roasted Asparagus and Fennel from Good Things Grow
- Baked Asparagus Frittata from Cookie and Kate
- Lasagne with asparagus and mushrooms from Five and Spice
- Roasted Asparagus and Chanterelle Fricassee from Roost
- Asparagus and Spring Onion Risotto from The Year in Food
- Whole Wheat Crepes with Spring Vegetables from This Homemade Life
- Asparagus Popover from Always With Butter
- Quinoa with asparagus and toasted coconut from Scandi Foodie
- Warm Asparagus Salad with Basil and Mint Pistou from Sprouted Kitchen
- Shaved Asparagus Salad with Parmesan from A Couple Cooks
Beets are something that has slowly grown on me since I started with the CSA. While they can be a pain to peel (and leave redness everywhere), beets hold a delicious earthy flavor that is not to be missed. My favorite so far has been adding beets to a chocolate cake. The beets brought out an extra earthiness in the chocolate that made the cake delicious. Now that I’m learning to like beets, I look forward to trying out new recipes this summer!
There is a way to freeze beets but honestly, I’ve never done it. Freezing beets is something I am going to work on this summer and hopefully figure out the best way to do it!
My recipes for Beets:
Recipes from around the web:
- Beet and Barley Salad from The Yellow House
- Roasted beets and arugula with horseradish cream from Five and Spice
- Beet, Seed, and Blood Orange Cake from Happyolks
- Raw Beet Salad with dill and walnuts from Adrienne Eats
- Heart Beat Rawvioli with Pesto Oil my My New Roots
- Roasted Beet and Fennel Soup from Turntable Kitchen
- Beets and Chickpeas with Jalapeno Yogurt from Love and Lemons
- Beet Crudo with Chimichurri from The Year in Food
Similar to rhubarb, I have a soft spot in my heart for green onions. My grandpa would pick me up from school and whenever we would get back to his house, we would have a snack. Most of the times is was unhealthy but during spring, when his garden started to grow, we would eat veggies. My favorite would be freshly picked green onions with a bit of salt. Green onions have that onion flavor with a little less punch that makes them great for eating raw. I also use the green parts for a bit of garnish on grain dishes and soups.
Green onions make the perfect companion for other spring produce such as asparagus, spinach, and swiss chard. The light onion flavor doesn’t over power the other delicate flavors found spring produce. Fresh green onions keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator and I’ve never bothered to store them longer (that’s what mature onions are for!)
My recipes with green onions:
While I seem to always lump kale in with spinach and swiss chard, kale is actually part of a cabbage family. I find that compared to the spinach and chard, kale often as a bit more earthy flavor. While chard has the beautiful color, kale has the wonderful shapes. There are three distinctive styles: one with curly leaves, one with long flat leaves, and one with a beautiful red stem up the middle. Kale is best in the cooler weather as it is one green that becomes slightly sweeter with a bit of frost.
Kale can be frozen through blanching for two minutes, ice bath, patting excess moisture off, and then putting in a freezer safe container. Like Swiss Chard, Kale in the winter can be a delicious treat in strews and other hot dishes. While there is a lot of potential for raw kale dishes, you may find the taste a bit much at first. I highly suggest replacing a warm dish with a bit of kale and then gradually working it in to your meals. Or, if you are like me, it will be love at first taste.
My Recipes for Kale:
- Asian Raw Kale Salad from Cookie and Kate
- Kale Frittata from The Fauxmartha
- Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette from Adrienne Eats
- Potato and Kale Skillet Gratin from The Year in Food
- Adzuki Beans with Millet and Kale from Scandi Foodie
- Sesame Kale Salad from Fresh365
- Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes from 101 Cookbooks
- Pappardelle with Kale Pesto from Love and Lemons
- Sweet Potato Ravioli with Kale Pesto from The First Mess
You may be wondering why my button is full of white radishes. It is actually because whenever I have the choice, I grab these beautiful radishes. They are my grandmother’s favorite. However, radishes come in all shapes and sizes but it’s there sharp taste that sets them apart. While most recipes call for raw radishes, I have fallen in love with roasting them. The roasting brings about a bit of sweetness that is otherwise not there.
Radishes are recommended for cold, moist storage and will possibly keep up to four months. While a root cellar is best for this, I often keep them in my produce draw in the refrigerator for as long as I can.
My Recipes for Radishes (of which I have neglected the radish, but I’m hoping to improve that!):
- Breakfast Tacos with Avocado Radish Salsa from The Year in Food
- Roasted radishes & radish greens with dill from The Yellow House
- Pan-Seared Radish and Avocado Salad from Food Republik
- French Breakfast Radish and Sunflower Sprout Tartines from Gourmande in the Kitchen
- Cinnamon Sugar Radish Chips from Pinch of Yum
- Radish and Pea Salad with Lemon Oregano Vinaigrette from A Couple Cooks
Rhubarb is up there for what I look forward to the most in the spring. It harkens back to the days when I would head outside with my grandfather and check to see how the rhubarb was doing (which were plants that my great grandfather had planted.) Every time we moved, we managed to take the rhubarb with us- it’s a family staple. I’m slowly learning to use rhubarb as a savory treat as well as a sweet treat and I highly suggest you do the same. Fresh rhubarb can be used for so much more than pies!
Rhubarb can be both frozen and canned. If you want to freeze it the lazy way (by just cutting it into pieces), it will only last a couple months in the freezer. There is a way to pack it wet but I’ve never messed with it (a quick search on the internet will yield many results.) For both canning and freezing you want to harvest 1-2′ spring stalks. Make sure you don’t use the leaves-they are poisonous! I found this great post from Simple Bites that is chocked full of information!
My recipes for Rhubarb:
Recipes from around the web:
- Roasted Rhubarb with Cardamon and Vanilla from Turntable Kitchen
- Finnish Rhubarb Tart from Scandi Foodie
- Ginger Cake with poached rhubarb from the Yellow House
- Strawberry Rhubarb Mini Galettes from Five and Spice
- Rhubarb Walnut Bread from Good Things Grow
- Rhubarb Fennel Fizz from The Year in Food
- Rhubarb Vanilla Compote from Verses from my Kitchen
In Illinois, spinach is grown outdoors in the cooler weather of early spring and fall but can also be found in hoop houses during the winter months. Once the weather warms up, the spinach begins to bolt. I eat a lot of leafy greens for the iron content and for many of the other nutrients. Spinach is great freshly plucked and used as a salad base but it is also versatile enough to be found in many cooked dishes. To keep the nutrients in tact, I often toss spinach with freshly cooked pasta to wilt it just slightly.
If you wish to perserve spinach longer, the best method is to freeze from the freshest spinach. This is done by blanching the greens for 2 minutes, followed immediately by an ice bath. From there, the greens can be toss in a ziplock bag and in to the freezer for hopefully up to a year (if they actually last that long.)
My Recipes with Spinach:
Recipes from Around the Web:
- Spinach and Soba Noodle Soup from Love and Lemons
- Orechiette with Spinach and Gorgonzola Sauce from Cookie and Kate
- Coconut Quinoa and Spinach Salad from Sprouted Kitchen
- Saag Paneer from 101 Cookbooks
- Italian Spinach and Egg “Stracciatella” Soup from A Couple Cooks
- Spinach Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich from Closet Cooking
- Spinach Strawberry & Radish Salad from Good Things Grow
- Lemon Mushroom Spinach Soup from The Vanilla Bean Blog
- Spinach and Gruyere Quiche form Once Upon a Chef
Strawberries are kind of my saving grace in the spring. Just when you start to get sick of eating only green produce, these delicious red berries make their appearance. Garden strawberries are often smaller than those you would find in the grocery store but they are often sweeter and juicier. Freshly picked strawberries should easily pluck off the plant and be red all the way through. Super market strawberries are often still unripe due to transport time and shelf life.
Strawberries tend to not last very long but if I get a plethora of them, I cut the stem off, toss with lemon juice, stick them on a baking tray,then individually freeze them. Once they are frozen, toss them in a zip lock bag and keep for months. I find having strawberries around when the weather turns cooler is a great addition for oatmeal or a treat topping for pancakes!
My Recipes with Strawberries:
Recipes from around the Web:
- Strawberry-ricotta tartlets from The Yellow House
- Strawberry Sweet Potato Crumble from Happyolks
- Strawberry Smash Cocktail from Cookie and Kate
- Strawberry Ice Cream from The FauxMartha
- Strawberry Leather from The Little Red House
- Balsamic Strawberry Shortcakes from Turntable Kitchen
- Healthy Strawberry Popsicles from Baked Bree
- Strawberry Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette from A Couple Cooks
Swiss Chard is one of those leafy greens I really didn’t notice until I started my CSA but once I did, I realized how great it could be. Swiss Chard sticks around longer than spinach when the weather gets warm and makes for a great green even when summer hits. I use chard in place of spinach in warm dishes and I have even shredded some chard to use in place of lettuce.
While most of my recipes say to remove the stem from the the leaf, the steam is also edible. Most of the times I am only use the greens in place of something else but when I’m not, I leave a part of the stem on. Like with most greens, I also only wash Chard right before use. I’ve found if I rinse/store, the chard tends to wilt much faster and not keep as long.
As with spinach, Swiss Chard can be canned/frozen. Because Swiss Chard is found throughout most of the growing season, I wait until late summer/early fall before I harvest Chard to freeze. To freeze, blanch for two minutes, ice bath, pat out excess moisture, and then toss in a freezer safe bag. Chard makes an excellent addition to pots of stew and warm pasta dishes during the winter.
My recipes for Swiss Chard:
Recipes from around the web:
- Leek and Swiss Chard Frittata from Adrienne Eats
- Polenta with Swiss Chard and Garlic from a Couple Cooks
- Sauteed Chard and Gruyere Grilled Cheese from Sprouted Kitchen
- Rainbow Chard Tartlets with Rosemary Almond Meal Crust from Roost
- Pearl Barley with Roasted Chickpeas and Garlicky Green from Good Things Grow
- Swiss Chard, Chickpea, and Tamarind Stew from Eats Well With Others
- Swiss Chard and caramelized onion tacos from Not Without Salt
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