Spring welcomes a bounty of bright green veggies and the first sweet-tart fruit of the season. Depending on where you live, winter citrus and cruciferous vegetables are probably still filling the stalls. But any day now, they’ll make way for young and tender shoots and leaves. Pop open a pea pod, savor a wild strawberry, and take a big breath in front of the herb baskets. This time of year, inspiration to eat your greens is all around.
Get your steps in and your grocery shopping done with a stroll through the farmers’ market. Here are the best spring veggies and fruits to buy now. (Plus, some fresh ideas for how to enjoy them.)
Fresh and mild leeks are one of the first stalks to shoot skyward. They’re high in fiber, including a special type called inulin, which acts as a prebiotic that’s good for your gut. Greener than onions, they make a savory base for soups, stews, and eggs, from frittata to quiche.
March is famous for it’s spring showers. The good news? Mushrooms love the damp. Higher in protein than other vegetables, that umami flavor means you’re less tempted to over-salt. Look for fresh and wild varieties, from hen of the woods to morels and kings. Sauté them with garlic and thyme, make a sauce for chicken breasts, or pile them on toast with a poached egg.
Artichokes have two seasons, spring and fall, and early spring is the bigger crop. Armored leaves protect a tender heart, which is high in fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamin C. Steam globe artichokes, peel off the leaves, and dip them in yogurt mixed with lemon and herbs. Or trim the tough leaves and stems from baby artichokes, and braise them with other veggies.
Slender asparagus is one of the hallmarks of spring. Low in calories but high in fiber, it’s a great source of folate, which is important for cardiovascular health. Steam or sauté the spears and serve them warm or chilled, with lemon zest or garlic. Or chop them into bite-size pieces and fold them into fresh pastas and creamy risottos.
The littlest and sweetest roots are plucked from spring soil. Radishes are a peppery treat this time of year, and they’re packed with vitamin C and cancer-fighting phytochemicals. Serve them raw with a yogurt dip, a smear of sweet butter, or thinly sliced on an egg or tuna sandwich.
Peas are actually a healthy frozen food, but nothing compares to a fresh sweet pea munched straight from the pod. The natural sugars convert quickly to starches, so they’ll taste sweetest if you buy them straight from the farmer and shell and cook them same day. Peas are surprisingly high in protein (8 g per cup!), making them the perfect veggie side post workout. Steam them, toss with lemon, or smash them with ricotta for a tasty dip.
Strawberries are the frontrunners, sneaking out into the sun long before other summer fruit makes it to market. Bursting with vitamin C (eight strawberries offer more than an orange!), they’ll help keep you healthy, so you won’t miss a sweat session. Plus, they have one of the lowest levels of sugar in fruit, for clean smoothies. Toss them in the blender, or savor them with mint, dark chocolate, or Greek yogurt.
Tart rhubarb is strawberry’s partner in crime. The long stalks are low in calories and high in fiber. You need sugar to balance the sour flavor, but pairing it with sweet berries and adding a drizzle of honey is the natural solution. Make a quick jam to spread on toast, a compote for yogurt or ricotta, or bake it into a cinnamon-infused crumble.
The most delicate baby leaves spring back with warm weather. Spinach, arugula, mâche, and many more varieties and mixes can be found at the market. Baby greens are as nutritious as mature greens, which might make mini kale and beet greens even more appealing. They boast powerful antioxidants, which reduce inflammation, soothing soreness and speeding muscle recovery. Handle them gently, dress them lightly, and make killer salads.
Green onions, green garlic, chives, dill, and mint are just some of the fragrant green herbs you can find at the spring market. They’re high in antioxidants, which help fight disease, but also big on flavor, so you can use less salt. Don’t think of herbs as a scant seasoning. Add big handfuls to freshen up fish, soups, and salads.
What are your favorite spring vegetables? Join the conversation below.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.