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5 spring vegetables to put on your grocery list right now

By Carolyn Malcoun, March 23, 2015 - 3:12pm

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve been ready for flip-flop season for at least a month. I may still have a 4-foot-high snowbank at the top of my driveway, but the songbirds are my new alarm clock and all I can think about is spring. And after a long winter of hearty stews, rib-sticking chili and all things roasted, I’m craving the fresh, light, refreshing vegetables of spring. Luckily the best ones are showing up at farmers’ markets across the country: snappy peas, refreshing baby lettuce, spicy radishes and more. Here are 5 of my favorite spring veggies and amazing ways to cook them.

As one of the most iconic spring vegetables, few things beat the flavor of the first fresh, tender asparagus spears of the season. Asparagus is high in folic acid and is a good source of potassium, fiber and vitamins A, B6 and C. Panko-Crusted Asparagus Spears make a tasty side or cocktail nibble.

Related: More Fresh Asparagus Recipes

Lettuce loves cooler weather and grows very quickly, so even if temps in your area have just started to rise recently, chances are you can still find some locally grown greens. A 2-cup bowlful has less than 15 calories yet is packed with nutrients, such as folate, vitamin C, fiber, potassium and the vitamin A precursor beta carotene, which in itself is a powerful antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals that damage cells. Make Mixed Lettuce Salad with Cucumber Herb Vinaigrette or pile greens into a bowl with the fixings for your favorite salad.

Watch: 4 Must-Have Healthy Salad Ingredients

Like asparagus, there’s just something really special about how a fresh and snappy pea tastes. There’s a sweet flavor and tenderness that out-of-season peas just can’t match. A 1-cup serving provides one-third of your Daily Value of vitamin C and 3 grams of fiber. Lemon-Mint Snap Peas & Lima Beans is a great way to enjoy them while they’re at their peak.

Don't Miss: More Fresh Ideas for Spring Peas

You may not think of turnips as a spring vegetable, but they only take a month to grow from seed so smart farmers can turn out an early-season crop. If you find baby ones, they’re incomparably sweet and tender. Bonus: They’re rich in fiber and vitamin C. Spring Turnip Frittata is a delightful way to showcase them.

See Also: Tasty Recipes for Garden-Fresh Turnips

If you want instant satisfaction from your garden, try growing radishes. They sprout up fast and you can start eating them in just a couple of weeks. And they weigh in at only 1 calorie apiece, so snack on them as much as you want! If you want to mellow their flavor, try them stir-fried with other vegetables. Or embrace their peppery flavor and layer them on sandwiches or toss them into a salad, like Radish, Celery & Snap Pea Salad.

Related: Salads, Salsas and More Recipes Starring Radishes

What’s your favorite spring food? Tell us what you think below.

TAGS: Carolyn Malcoun, Healthy Cooking Blog, What's in season

Carolyn Malcoun
A graduate of New England Culinary Institute and University of Wisconsin with a degree in journalism, Carolyn pairs her long-standing love for food with writing as EatingWell's senior food editor. Carolyn’s culinary interest is rooted in her childhood; she grew up making thousands of Christmas cookies every year with her mom and picking leaves off bunches of parsley to make tabbouleh with her dad. Away from the kitchen, Carolyn enjoys seeking out rare craft beers and exploring the outdoors with her husband, young daughter and dog.

Carolyn asks: What’s your favorite spring food?

Tell us what you think:

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