Spring sprang, and with the season’s arrival comes a favorite weekend pastime around Voraciously HQ: a trip to the farmers market. To the uninitiated, this can be a daunting, obnoxious, anxiety-filled space. But look beyond the crowds, the dogs straining against their leashes, the strollers, the yoga mats, the inevitable bluegrass trio and the very enthusiastic folks wearing flannel even though it’s 80 degrees out, and you’ll find prime, locally grown produce that’s just itching to go home with you.
Please allow us to introduce the likely suspects you’ll meet at the farmers market this spring.
*collectively clearing throats*
First up, asparagus! You know asparagus well. We’ve already introduced the two of you, and you’re now going on coffee dates before strolling around the market. So in addition to the fabulous recipes you’re already acquainted with, know where else you should use asparagus?
TOAST. Or more precisely, Spring Tartines. These open-face sandwiches offer a variety of textures — plus, they allow for infinite flexibility — depending on which produce is available.
Next up, the shy and somewhat elusive rhubarb. You won’t find these tart stalks at every market, but when you do, snatch them up. (Locally, they’re also appearing in most grocery stores that we’ve frequented within the past few weeks.) Rhubarb is a vegetable, but it’s usually treated like fruit — or, in other words, recipes usually pile on the sugar to tame its somewhat astringent, delightfully tart flavor. Use rhubarb in pies, jams, sauces and the like, or chop it and make this ideal-for-snacking Rhubarb Cake.
A thing you should know: If you come across rhubarb with its leaves attached, be aware that the leaves are poisonous and you should not eat them.
If you were to really hit it off with both vegetables, you might consider making a Roasted Rhubarb and Asparagus Pasta Salad. This way you’ll get to know rhubarb in a more nuanced, savory setting, while also mentally preparing for summer cookouts and pasta salads.
The queen of the spring farmers market prom is, without a doubt, strawberries. We usually pick up the first pint we see, take them home, give them a rinse and greedily eat them without actually making a recipe. But then we’re immediately filled with regret because that means there are no more strawberries and we’ll have to wait a week before making Strawberry Amaretto Parfaits for breakfast, even though maybe they’re technically meant for dessert.
You’ll also encounter piles and pouches of lettuce and other fresh greens, which, upon purchasing, might make you feel a little fancy and bougie. (No? Just us?) With soft, gentle specimens such as these, we usually opt for a creamy, tangy dressing, such as the one in this healthful Tender Lettuces With Kefir Ranch Dressing. If you’re a frequent salad eater, you might consider doubling the recipe — it’ll keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Other produce you’ll probably meet includes apples from last season (they’re kept in cold storage and remain, for the most part, surprisingly crisp) — use them to make Pork Tenderloin With 5-Minute Cherry Applesauce or, for dessert, Raspberry Roasted Applesauce. We spotted small beets at a market recently; if we had a grill, we’d opt for Grilled Baby Beets With Mustard Sauce, pictured above. And last but most certainly not least, you’ll probably see a few vendors selling plants. Since we’re not all #blessed with green thumbs, we usually go for the heartier (read: harder to kill) herbs such as basil (pesto for days!) or mint, to fuel our summer mojito habit.
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