There's one easy way to tell what's in season: Walk into your local produce section and see what foods are piled high at the entrance. In April and May, that should be artichokes, mangoes, pineapples and peas. Not only are these delicacies cheaper this time of year, but they're much fresher and less likely to have been shipped from another continent. Most importantly, though, these four rockstars are infinitely better-tasting when they're in season: tender, flavorful and ready to eat. Here are some recipes to get you started.
To find an artichoke's treasure, you've first got to make your way through prickly thorns and tough outer leaves. The flesh and heart inside are creamy and rich, well worth the effort. Artichokes are easily prepared: Try our Best (and Easiest) Grilled Artichoke Ever. Or simmer and steam up Quartano's New Orleans Artichokes. Or mix it up with Spinach and Artichoke: A Dip With a Heart.
Mangoes have often traveled a fair distance—say, from Mexico—to reach your store, so it's important to know how to choose a perfect mango. Once you've got it, slice it up in a Spicy Mango Asian Salad or chop it into Baja Fish Tacos With Mango Salsa. Follow it up with a delectable dessert: Thai Mango & Sticky Rice.
Springtime peas are the sweetest delight of the season. Look for fresh green peas at your farmers market, and be sure to cook them the same day you buy them. Try this Perfect Pasta With Peas, Radishes & Lemon Cream or any of these 6 Recipes for Fresh Peas. Snow peas and snap peas are in season too, so dig into Garlic Snow Peas With Cilantro or just snack on the juicy pods fresh off the vine.
Pineapples start coming in this time of year, and in springtime you're most likely to find the elusive, tender baby pineapple. Grill them for a unique South African dessert: Grilled Baby Pineapples with Honey Chardonnay Glaze. Or for a more traditionally American flavor, try this Sweet Potato, Pineapple and Cheddar Salad. Follow it up with a Rio-style cocktail: Pineapple Caipirinha with Sweet Lime Espuma.
image: Martin Fisch