Despite having plenty of snow still lingering on the ground, we’re closing our eyes to feel the sun beat on our faces and dreaming of warmer days spent browsing the farmers market and snatching up bundles of vibrant produce. If you dream it, it will come… no? Well, we’re going to keep trying just the same.
To celebrate the beginning of spring, we’re sharing some of our best tips for choosing, storing and cooking with Spring’s bounty, along with delicious recipes to spark your imagination and get you inspired in the kitchen. When those first bundles of Rhubarb are ready, you’ll be confident and ready to get cooking! Enjoy.
Spring Produce Guide
Buying: Look for crisp, firm stalks. Colour may vary from various shades of green to deep ruby red.
Storing: Wrap and refrigerate your rhubarb stalks. Alternatively, it can be frozen if cleaned and cut into pieces.
Cooking: Avoid eating leaves as they contain oxalic acid which can irritate the mouth. Rhubarb can be cooked into a sauce and served alongside grilled meats, it can be added to pies and galettes, muffins and quick breads. It is tangy in flavour and often needs sugar to balance it out. Some enjoy it simply raw and dipped in sugar.
Recipe: Roasted Rhubarb Pistachio Eton Mess
Buying: Fiddleheads generally start to sprout mid to late April and into early May — their window of availability is short, so grab them quick! Look for tightly coiled, bright green ferns — avoid any with dark-coloured centres, as this indicates that the fiddlehead is older.
Storing: Place fiddleheads in a large bowl of cold water and gently rub away the papery brown husks. Remove from water and trim away the ends. Drain and rinse several more times in fresh cold water until the water runs clear.
Cooking: Since they grow in the wild, Fiddleheads must be fully cooked according to Health Canada. Steam or boil for 15 minutes before enjoying as-is or sauteeing in butter with garlic and herbs.
Recipe: Fiddleheads with Garlic Roasted Tomatoes, Chevre and Chili Herb Oil
Buying: Look for straight, crisp spears with green or purple tips with tight heads. It’s freshness, not size, that’s important.
Storing: Asparagus is best eaten right away, but can be refrigerated for two or three days. Stand the spears straight up in a jug of water. Alternatively, you can blanch and freeze in small bundles to use when needed.
Cooking: Wash in cold running water to remove sand or grit. Then snap off and discard tough, woody ends. Roast or grill on high heat, or shave/chop to eat raw.
Recipe: Asparagus and Goat Cheese Frittata
Buying: Not to be mistaken for Garlic Scapes, which come later in the season, Green Garlic looks like a thicker scallion and has a milder taste than garlic. Look for stalks that are fully green and fresh-looking, not wilted. Yellowing leaves signal the plant is inching toward the bulb stage
Storing: Green garlic can be store in the fridge where it will keep for 5-7 days. Wrap in a damp paper towel and place it in a plastic bag; or stick the green garlic in a tall glass with some water in the bottom.
Cooking: Treat green garlic like you would a small leek: trim off the very bottom of the bulb and use all of the tender white and light green parts. The darker green parts can be saved for stock, as a flavour addition when you’re braising or simmering a stew or as a garnish on salads and soups.
Recipe: Use in place of regular garlic in this Braided Rosemary Garlic Rye Bread.
Buying: The freshest radishes are those sold in bunches with tops attached. Look for a firm, brightly colored root and healthy leaves.
Storing: For bunched radishes, remove the leaves, wrap in plastic and refrigerate. If your radishes look blemished and sad, immerse in ice water for an hour or two before serving.
Cooking: Radishes have a peppery taste and are often consumed raw with other vegetables with a creamy based dip or with fresh butter and a sprinkle of salt. When roasted their spice mellows and their natural sweetness comes out.
Recipe: Spring Roast Potato Salad with Sunflower Dijon Toss
Sugar Snap Peas
Buying: Look for smooth, bright green and glossy pods. The stem end should be bright green, not brown or wilted.
Storing: Best eaten ASAP, but they can be stored for several days, bagged in plastic, in the refrigerator’s vegetable crisper.
Cooking: We love peas raw right from the pod, but if you do want to cook be weary of overcooking. Blanch in boiling water for 2-3 minutes or saute gently in butter for the same amount of time.
Recipe: Pea and Parmesan Handpies