spring peas

Springtime is the perfect season to fall back in love with fresh vegetables. Green is the theme as the weather warms up, and you’ll find more new spring vegetables at the market every week.

From peas and asparagus to fiddlehead ferns and Vidalia onions, the bounty of spring vegetables will inspire you to try new recipes, taste new things and take advantage of fresh vegetables at every turn. Keep your eyes peeled for these tasty treats to pop up at your local farmers market!

  1. Peas – Perhaps no vegetable is more associated with springtime than peas. Delicate and round, these tiny treasures are fun to eat and impart a mild, sweet flavor. Simply shell them from their pods with a gentle rake of the finger, and steam them on the stovetop for 2 minutes to retain the maximum nutritional content.
  1. Watercress – These tender baby greens add zing to any fresh salad and boast a potent nutritional profile. Watercress also has a long history – it’s one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by humans. Choose hydroponic watercress when possible, and wash it well before eating.
  1. Vidalia Onions – With a short spring season, these sweet yellow onions should be grabbed when spotted. Chop them into salads, eggs, dressings and all sorts of roasts. Onions have a high content of flavonoids, plant metabolites that may protect cancer. Vidalias have a higher water content than normal onions, so they can’t be stored as long. Eat them up quickly for best results.
  1. Fava Beans – Hailing from the Mediterranean, these springtime delights have plump pods and a pale green color. You can either peel them if they’re big, or eat the pods straight up if they’re small (after you’ve removed the top and tail). Try fava beans in pasta salads, coated with olive oil and grilled, or cooked with pancetta for a breakfast treat.
  1. Fiddleheads – If you live in New England, keep your eyes out for fresh green fiddleheads to appear at the market. These young ferns are curled up and fuzzy, with a funky appearance for the uninitiated. Fiddleheads contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and are high in fiber and iron. Steam or sauté them to bring out their flavor.
  1. Artichokes – Artichokes bloom into a beautiful purple flower, but they need to be harvested long before this stage if you’re going to eat them. They require a little effort to become edible, but it’s worth it. Artichokes are associated with liver healthy, lower blood sugar, improved digestion and migraine relief.
  1. Asparagus – Shooting up from the ground like green spears of spring, these flavorful vegetables seem to symbolize the season itself. Asparagus is easy to prepare however you desire: steamed, sautéed, grilled, roasted or even boiled. One serving of these sexy spears is full of folate, and provides more than a day’s dose of vitamin K. Also look for asparagus spears that are white or better yet – purple!

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Image: Antonio Foncubierta