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Cooking With What’s in Season

June 2, 2010

Photo by Flickr User Eyeflyer

Well, it’s official.  The summer months are here, bringing with them the shining sun and warm summer breezes.  There’s just something about spending more time outdoors that also calls for enjoyment of Mother Nature and all the fresh food she has to offer.

But what’s in season?  And when?

Sure, it’s easy to guess what’s fresh when you’re at a farmer’s market, but not always so easy when you’re standing in front of rows upon rows of produce at the grocery store.  And regardless of where you’re shopping, there can be marked differences in how to care for, store, and cook produce depending on the variety.

Thankfully, Real Simple has a great online guide to Spring and Summer vegetables – perfect for arming yourself with knowledge for those trips to the grocery and farmer’s market.  Here are the highlights for the Spring:

Artichokes

Look for: Deep green artichokes with a thorn at the tip of each leaf, which have a nutty flavor and a firm texture. The leaves should squeak when rubbed together and be tightly packed and closed at the top. Splayed leaves and blackening on the stem are signs an artichoke is old. Store: Refrigerate unwashed in a plastic bag. Shelf life: Up to a week. If the leaves begin to spread, cook as soon as possible. Use: Raw artichokes are bitter; they’re best cooked whole. To prep one for steaming, trim the tips and stem. Steam until tender and the leaves pull away without too much resistance (about 45 minutes). Serve with a vinaigrette or melted butter for dipping.

Peas (Snow, Garden, Sugar Snap)

Look for: Ripe snow peas are light green and almost translucent, with tiny seeds; the pods of garden pea should be glossy, crunchy, sweet, and full of medium-size peas. Sugar snaps should be bright green with plump pods. All pods should be firm and unblemished. Store: Unwashed in a loose plastic bag in the vegetable drawer. Leave garden peas in their pods until you’re ready to use them. Shelf life: Three to 4 days, but they’re best eaten as soon as possible after they’re picked. Use: Snow and sugar snap peas can be eaten whole after removing the stems and the strings; both are delicious raw and in stir-fries. Garden peas should be shelled and blanched in boiling water just until they turn bright green (1 to 2 minutes).

Asparagus

Look for: Bright-green coloring, firm, straight stems, and tightly closed tips. Avoid spears that are shriveled or wet or have thick, woody stalks. White asparagus should be firm and smooth. Store: Wrap the cut ends in a damp paper towel and keep in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Shelf life: Best fresh but will last up to 3 days, refrigerated. Use: Rinse, then snap off or trim the bottoms (peeling is not necessary). Eat raw, blanched, or roasted. Or broil until browned and tender (3 to 5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally), drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and top with Parmesan shavings.

Click here for the full list of Spring vegetables from Real Simple.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 2, 2010 9:35 pm

    Yeah, it’s good, very useful, thanks 🙂

  2. June 8, 2010 11:47 am

    ;I am impressed with the post. If you can do a youtube video for it. i would watch! 🙂

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  1. Is That a Pea in my Pod? « I Love FOOD Diet

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