spring has sprung in ontario and with it comes an array of delicious vegetable crops! though perhaps not as heralded as the late summer bounty or as plentiful as the autumn harvest, spring crops offer some truly unique flavours.
vibrant, nutrient-dense asparagus is one of the first crops to appear and is best eaten as soon as possible after being picked. fiddleheads are the curly fronds of a young ostrich fern and have a mild, tender taste. they have a very short growing season and although they are full of antioxidants, they may harbour microbes and so should be washed and cooked before eating. the beginning of the sweet garden pea season arrives in early june and these fresh little gems are a plump and sweet source of fibre.
unfortunately, despite their versatility, many people are stumped about how to prepare these yummy veggies besides steaming, boiling or roasting and serving as a side dish (which can get boring day after day). the key to incorporating the early spring harvest into your meals is to get creative and think “outside the side”.
[image via blogTO]
here are some great ways to sample the bounty:
- put some crunch in your comfort food!: try this “adultified” asparagus grilled cheese sandwich from the ontario table. pair it with the grilled cheese’s arguably perfect partner, tomato soup.
- fiddle with your noodles!: delicate fiddlehead ferns are a tender and colourful addition to your pasta dishes. boil cleaned fiddleheads until tender or blanch then quickly sauté in farm-fresh butter and drop into a pot of tomato sauce. pour over a plate of sturdy noodles such as radiatori.
- make a great thing even better!: while warming a jar of chicken noodle soup or preparing macaroni and cheese, toss some sweet peas into the pot to add some beautiful green colour and tender pop to your spoonfuls.
the season for spring’s harvest is lamentably short, so be curious and adventurous with its bounty!