Tips & Tricks

8 Lesser-Known Spring Vegetables That Deserve Your Attention

Spring brings a fresh crop of delicate, fleeting vegetables that are gone before you know it (which is part of their allure). Be on the lookout for these eight favorites.

After months of buying fruits and veggies shipped from warmer climates or grown in greenhouses, local produce is beginning to arrive. Spring brings a fresh crop of delicate, fleeting vegetables that are gone before you know it (which is part of their allure). Be on the lookout for these eight favorites.

1. Ramps

A quintessential spring vegetable, ramps have an extremely short growing season, so they’re only available for a few weeks every year. With a delicate garlicky flavor, these spring onions are delicious in frittatas, pasta, or tossed with roasted fingerling potatoes. Or follow Plated Chef Elana Karp’s advice and simply sauté them in olive oil and serve them as a side.

(Image: Serious Eats)

2. Sorrel

A spring green with a peppery-citrusy flavor, sorrel adds serious depth to salads. Or use it in a sauce to add brightness to a meaty fillet of salmon.
(Image: The Kitchn)

3. Japanese Turnips

Before you write off the Japanese turnip as just another root vegetable, keep in mind that they’re much nuttier and sweeter than their winter cousins. Also known as salad turnips, these are mild and juicy enough to be the star of a salad, but hearty enough to stand up to traditional Japanese flavors like miso and mirin.
(Image: epicurious)

4. Fiddlehead Ferns

Fiddleheads are the furled fronds of a fern (say that ten times fast!) and are only available for a few weeks in early spring because they’re plucked from the tips of the young plant as it begins its growing season. Fiddleheads have a grassy, umami-like flavor similar to spinach or asparagus—and they don’t need much help to shine. Try them in a simple salad, sautéed in brown butter (Elana’s favorite) with some edamame and Feta cheese.
(Image: Sea Salt With Food)

5. Fava Beans

At first glance, you might mistake bright green fava beans for edamame, but favas have a buttery, nutty flavor that’s all their own. Sauté them with onions and bacon for a side dish or combine with radishes and lemon zest for an inventive take on bruschetta. “They also make for a great puree,” Elana says.
(Image: The Kitchn)

6. Pea Shoots

The leafy tops of peas, these tendrils taste like a more mild, sweet version of the peas themselves and show up in often in Chinese and Japanese cuisines, quickly sauteed with ginger and fish sauce. They’ll also add dimension to a green salad simply dressed in a lemon vinaigrette.
(Image: Food52)

7. White Asparagus

These pure white spears might lack the vibrant color of regular green asparagus (they’re grown entirely in the dirt), but they make up for it in flavor. White asparagus is tender and sweeter than its cousin. Try roasting it simply with salt and pepper as a vegetable side or topping it with an easy Hollandaise sauce.
(Image: Cooking Channel)

8. Garlic Scapes

The garlic scape is a part of the garlic plant that might not even seem edible, but the bright green stems and unopened buds pack an intense, slightly sweet flavor. Blitz them in a blender with some pistachios, parmesan and olive oil for a riff on pesto that goes great and tossed with pasta.
(Image: epicurious)


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