It might not quite feel like it yet, but last Sunday marked the official first day of spring! Keep your eyes peeled for fresh ingredients like ramps, asparagus, and arugula starting to appear in the next few weeks. As always, we have plenty of ideas for what you can do with them.
1. Asparagus - Simply steamed or roasted under the broiler, we'll eat asparagus with every dinner for as long as we can get it. Recipes to Try: Momofuku's Pan Roasted Asparagus with Poached Egg, Cream of Asparagus Soup, and Meyer Lemon Grain Salad with Asparagus, Almonds, and Goat Cheese.
2. Ramps - A wild member of the onion family, ramps taste like particularly pungent leeks. We love them with eggs or pasta. Recipes to Try: Pecan Crusted Salmon with Sautéed Ramps and Spaghetti with Ramps and Sausage.
3. Stinging Nettles - Raw nettles can give you a sting, but cooking neutralizes the ouch-factor - thank goodness! Recipes to Try: Nettle Soup and Nettle Tisane.
4. Morel Mushrooms - These mushrooms need little else than a plate of fresh pasta or a few scrambled eggs to make them a meal. They're so delicious when you can find them fresh. Recipes to Try: David Tanis' Wild Mushroom Ragout, Breaded Morel Mushrooms with Thyme, Sage, and Butter, and Rich No-Cream Wild Mushroom Sauce
5. Garlic Scapes - You probably won't find these until a little further into springtime, but grab them up when you do! We love their mellow garlic flavor in stir-fries, simple pasta sauces, and even on pizza. Recipes to Try: White Bean and Garlic Scape Dip
6. Artichokes - Artichokes are a favorite on our Easter table. Steamed, they make a great appetizer; braised, they go on the table as a side dish. Recipes to Try: Big Hearted Mac and Cheese with Artichokes, Stuffed Artichokes, and Chicken and Artichokes in Wine Sauce
7. Pea Shoots - Farmers often need to thin out the wily tendrils and tiny leaves on their pea plants to make sure the peas have room to grow. Happily, these tender greens are delicious on salads and in sandwiches. Recipes to Try: Proscuitto and Pea Shoot Roses and Alternative to Sprouts Sandwich
8. Rhubarb - While this isn't technically a fruit, rhubarb is the first dessert-worthy ingredient to appear in the spring. Recipes to Try: Rhubarb Basil Cocktail, Rhubarb Crostata with Jasmine Whipped Cream, and Rhubarb Fool.
9. Arugula - Arugula is our favorite spring green, hands down. We love its fresh, almost peppery flavor in everything from lunch salads to pasta dishes. (And keep an eye out for arugula blossoms, as well!) Recipes to Try: Egg, Arugula, and Herb Tartine, Potato Salad with Arugula, Yogurt, and Dill, and Straccetti con Rucola e Funghi
What are your favorite spring dishes?
Related: Bring Back the Green! 20 Fresh Spring Salads
(Images: Aparagus - Leslie Land, Morels - Kathryn Hill, Scapes - Emily Ho, Rhubarb - Liz Vidyarthi)