It’s official: we have reached that point in the season when we can’t help but dream about spring. Specifically, we’re dreaming about the day when a bounty of fresh new produce fills the stalls of our farmers’ markets (and we take our last bites of winter squash).
In anticipation of a bright new season, we asked Williams-Sonoma associates about the ingredients they are most looking forward to eating in spring. Keep reading for their responses — plus some new ways to prepare spring fruits and vegetables.
“Strawberries are one of the tastiest, healthiest and most nutrient-dense foods. They are higher in Vitamin C than oranges! I prefer to eat them raw, but there are a number of other things I do with them:
- Granita: Puree with champagne and a few pinches of sugar. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Add a pinch of chopped mint and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. Freeze in a shallow baking dish. Scrape with a fork. Serve with buttermilk or Greek yogurt panna cotta for an elegant, simple, seasonal dessert.
- Breakfast yogurt: Combine plain Greek yogurt with honey and vanilla paste. Add diced strawberries. It’s that simple. AND it’s ten times better than the strawberry yogurt you can buy at the store.
- Simple dessert: Drizzle with aged balsamic (this is also great with a cheese course).
- Cocktail: Muddle them in a glass with a few herbs (thyme, basil or mint all work well). Add gin or vodka, a squeeze of lime or lemon and ice. Shake. Top with a float of champagne.
- Roasted strawberry tart: Roast halved strawberries with brown sugar and butter. Fill baked tart shell with lemon curd and top with roasted strawberries.”
– Travis R., Food Development
“I love strawberries!! Nothing says spring more than the first ripe strawberries of the season with their petaled green hat of a stem in those little green baskets from the farmers’ market. The perfect blend of sweetness and tartness in each delightful berry is perfect for so many dishes, sweet or savory. I love slicing them into an arugula and toasted walnut salad, mashing a few into the vinaigrette for an extra burst of its bright tart flavor. For Easter and spring parties, I arrange slices layered over a French custard tart with a dusting of pistachio crumbs over them. But my favorite way to enjoy them is still simply eating them plain and perfect.” — Gloria T., Food Development
“Last spring Chris Cosentino made a squash blossom risotto on the set of a video that we were shooting with him, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. I’m waiting anxiously for squash blossoms to reappear at my farmers’ market so I can try to recreate it.” — Victoria V., Content
Green Garlic & Ramps
“I love them in salads, sautéed with other spring veggies (especially fava or green beans), finely chopped over a poached egg or in an omelet — the list is endless. They’re milder than garlic but more flavorful than scallions, and I love that you can use the bulb and the stalks for so many different things. I just got my first crop in my farm box, so this weekend I’ll be dressing pasta in green garlic pesto — yum.” — Emily W., Merchandising
“Favas are my absolute favorite springtime treat. Although many see them as a time-consuming vegetable to prepare, I love the routine of the mindless peeling and blanching that needs to occur to bring out their best flavor. Then I sauté them in a little olive oil and garlic and add a pinch of chile flakes, and I’m in heaven!” — Amanda H., Test Kitchen
“Asparagus is the first spring vegetable to appear at my farmers’ market, and my anticipation of its arrival borders on an obsession, hoping each weekend to see those slender spears. And I know exactly what I’ll do with them – make a roasted asparagus salad. Here’s how:
Toss asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper, place on a baking sheet and lay thin slices of Meyer lemon on the spears. Roast in a 400°F oven until just tender. (Test with a knife tip or, better still, just pop a spear into your mouth.) Discard lemon slices. Dress baby lettuces (along with some arugula, if you like) with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette and top with the warm asparagus. Garnish with crumbled goat cheese or shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano and eat immediately. Simple, sublime – and well worth the wait!” — Kris B., Content
Tarragon & Chervil
“…My favorite herbs! I love them in mayonnaise-based salads (chicken, shrimp, egg and potato), vinaigrettes and salad dressings, and simple vegetable sautes. I am a total sucker for the classic French Sauce Fines Herbes with pan-roasted bone-in chicken breasts. It’s probably one of the few things from culinary school that I still want to make to this day.” — Melissa S., Test Kitchen
What spring foods are you craving? Tell us in the comments!