Two words: rhubarb pie.

By Kelly Vaughan
April 27, 2020
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As soon as the temperature outside rises into the 50s, our minds automatically begin to get excited for spring. And though access to fresh produce is complicated at best right now, tons of farmers have been opening up roadside farm stands to sell their fresh-grown fruits and vegetables to consumers. Support your local growers—and avoid long, crowded, and potentially unsafe grocery stores—by taking advantage of this opportunity. (Here's how to wash your produce properly after you carry your loot home.)

While some of the produce on this list—such as asparagus and peas—are available year round, they’re at their best in spring. Other items, such as rhubarb and ramps, are nearly impossible to find out of season, so make the most of them while they’re fresh.

Rhubarb

Bright pink and tart as can be, we’re so excited to cook with rhubarb this season. The best way to store rhubarb is much like celery: wrapping the stalks loosely in aluminum foil. You can also cut the stalks into one-inch pieces and freeze them in a single layer for year-round flavor. It’s hard to find rhubarb after late April, so stock up early and turn it into a rustic Rhubarb Galette, a show-stopping Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake, or simmer it with sugar and water to create the simple syrup base for Strawberry-Rhubarb Sangria.

Asparagus

While you can generally find asparagus year round, it’s at its best and brightest in spring. To prepare asparagus, snap off the ends about an inch away from the way from the bottom, as these tend to be tough and bitter. To keep asparagus fresher for longer, store them upright in a glass filled with an inch of water. From here, their applications in savory recipes are endless. Lemon-Caraway Asparagus With Ricotta and Pancetta is a bright delight and Roasted Asparagus With Flax Seed-Walnut Crumble is another spectacular side.

Ramps

Similar in appearance to spring onions with a savory oniony flavor, make the most of ramps (because they won’t be around for long!). This seasonal vegetable is part of the allium family, which includes onions, leeks, garlic, shallots, and scallions. Slice them thin like scallions and sauté them for pasta or use as an aromatic add-in for grain bowls. Or whir them into pesto for a sharp take on the classic basil-based recipe.

Peas

Frozen or fresh, peas are another produce item that are easy to find year-round. Like asparagus though, they’re particularly fresh and flavorful in spring. Radicchio Panzanella With Charred Snap Peas and Beans is both a spring and summertime stunner that’s perfect for a backyard barbecue. Peas are also a classic add-in for risotto; this English Pea and Parmesan Barley Risotto is fresh and hearty take on the classic Italian comfort food.

Artichokes

When choosing artichokes at a grocery store or farmers market, choose ones that feel firm and heavy with bright green, sturdy leaves. Store them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for up to five days. While you can find canned, marinated artichoke hearts year-round, use fresh when they’re in season. A delicious, Italian-inspired starter is Double-Fried Artichokes with Lemon Aioli, which are crispy and zesty. Marinated artichoke hearts do shine in simple pasta recipes, a savory Artichoke, Leek, and Bacon Quiche or this Artichoke, Rosemary, and Garlic Frittata.

Cabbage

Shredded or whole, red or green, cabbage is a real treat when it’s in season in spring. As soon as cabbage is cut, it will go bad within a few days; however, a whole head of cabbage (with the exception of the savoy variety) can last up to two weeks in the crisper drawer. One of the most popular uses for cabbage is using it as the base for coleslaw; this Thai-inspired recipe uses both green and red cabbage, plus sharp aromatics like cilantro and scallions for flavor. On a day when the temperature feels more like winter than spring, try making a big batch of Red Cabbage and Beet Borscht. Or prepare this totally unexpected and flavor-packed Japanese Cabbage Pancake for a quick, family-friendly dinner.