Season, Spring, Vancouver
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What’s In Season: Spring

After the long and dreary winter we had this year, I am so happy that spring has finally arrived in Vancouver!

If you look around the city, you can see that the tell-tale signs of spring have started popping up all over the place. The daffodils and crocuses have bloomed, the rhododendrons and cherry blossoms are on their way, the birds have started singing again, and we have already had a few days of +10°C weather. Some Vancouverites are even ahead of the game and have busted out their shorts and skirts and have already started enjoying patio season. No, I’m not kidding. But after having suffered through 5 major (and really uncommon) snowstorms this winter, I really can’t blame them for taking advantage of our nice spring weather.

I myself have been enjoying the start of spring as well. While I may not be outside in my shorts sipping sangria on a patio, I have been busting out some spring cleaning and doing some major re-organizing. I honestly cannot tell you how happy I was to pack away all of my winter sweaters, coats and boots and bring out all of my spring/summer clothes. It totally just gives me a fresh, new mindset and gets me back on track- kind of like having a second New Year’s.

Besides the tell-tale signs of spring and fresh mindset, what I mostly look forward to this season is the wonderful new produce that is hitting the market shelves. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter veggies, but there is only so much cabbage, kale and potatoes you can eat. Spring brings fresh salad greens, tender asparagus spears, crunchy radish and rhubarb, colourful chard, and refreshing herbs- all of which can brighten up any spring dish. What’s more is that these spring foods are delicate and tasty, so you don’t have to do too much work with them. Just keep it simple by tossing them into a salad, or steaming them quickly to enjoy as a side.

Check out the fresh produce that is in season right now below and watch out for some tasty recipes this month and next that use them! Happy Spring everyone!

Asparagus:

Seeing bundles of asparagus at the market is a good sign that spring has arrived. These tender stalks of green goodness can be roasted, steamed, boiled, sautéed or even pureed. All these methods of cooking are good- but my favourite is wrapping them is prosciutto and baking them in the oven.

Buying: When buying asparagus, make sure the stems are firm, bright green in colour, and that the tips of the asparagus are tight. Any loose limpy stalks are not good to eat.

Storing: When you get home from the market, make sure to place the asparagus into a tall glass (or large container) with 3-4 centimetres of water in the bottom. This keeps the stalks hydrated and crisp. It is best though to cook the asparagus within two to three days of buying it.

Radish:

Radishes come in all shapes, sizes and colours. From the traditional red radish, to watermelon radish, to the exotic Spanish (black) radish, they are all crispy and crunchy. Radishes are best eaten raw (the French love these sliced on toast with butter) but also can be pickled (like daikon radish) or lightly cooked. Either way, these refreshing little jewels will add a refreshing crunch to your meal.

Buying: When buying radishes, make sure that the colour is bright, the skin and stalks are taught, and that they feel heavy for their size.

Storing: Store the radishes in the crisper in your refrigerator and consume within two days of purchasing.

 

Chard:

If you like kale, you will also like chard. Chard typically grows during the summer time, but is widely available in supermarkets at the beginning of spring. Chard can be sliced thinly and added to salads, or can be steamed or sautéed with a little olive oil and garlic.  Apart from the bright green leaves of this tasty vegetable, the rainbow coloured stalks just scream spring!

Buying: Just like buying kale, make sure that the leaves are bright green, there is no limping, and that the stems are firm.

Storing: Store the chard in the crisper of your refrigerator and consume within two or three days of purchasing.

 

Chives:

OK- if you thought the rainbow chard looked pretty, take a look at these beautiful chives! Chives are typically available year round in supermarkets, these just scream spring with their bright green stems and purple flowers! Chives have a very mild onion flavour (even milder than a scallion) and can be added to salad dressing, tossed in with mashed potatoes, and can even be made into chive oil for a nice oniony kick. Even though you can’t eat the beautiful flowers, they do make a beautiful garnish.

Buying: When buying chives, make sure that the stems are bright green and firm. They should not limp or sag.

Storing: Wash the chives, dry them and wrap them in a damp paper towel. Place the wrapped chives in a sealable plastic bag and store in the crisper of your refrigerator. Again, consume them within a few days of purchasing.

 

Salad Greens:

Of course, we couldn’t have spring without salad greens. While you can get many types of salad greens in the supermarket year-round, there is really nothing like having crisp salad greens that were picked fresh. I find that freshly picked salad greens are much crisper and taste green (if you know what I mean), unlike those limp, lifeless salad greens you get in the plastic box. My favourite salad greens to eat in spring are: watercress, arugula, and curly leaf lettuce. I typically use these as a base for my salads, but also will sometimes top heartier dishes with salad greens (like arugula) for a fresh and spicy bite. Prosciutto and arugula pizza anyone?

Buying: When buying salad greens, make sure that the leaves are bright green, taught (i.e. not limpy), and crisp. The bundle of greens should also feel heavy for their size.

Storing: Wash the salad greens, dry them and wrap them in a damp paper towel. Place the wrapped green in a sealable plastic bag and store in the crisper of your refrigerator. Again, consume them within a few days of purchasing.

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