After a cold bleak winter, spring feels like a beautiful exhale. Not only are we spending more time outside, but there is a general lightness in the air, the promise of new projects, and new growth. There are things we look forward to every spring, picnics, holidays, blooming flowers, and our favorite- spring produce! Ramps, strawberries, fiddleheads, radishes, rhubarb, the list goes on and on. The produce we have been waiting all year for- catch them while you can. Here is a little bit about what you can expect to find at Sickles this spring, to fulfill all your warm weather cooking dreams
This vegetable is named from the Latin word ‘rhababarum’ meaning root of the barbarians- impossibly silly, but interesting, no? Aka garden rhubarb or culinary rhubarb is the amusingly named vegetable that is mostly used as you would a fruit. This red celery-like stalk is a unique tart flavor that lends to superior tasting pies, crumbles and preserves. They can be eaten raw, however the flavor is astringent and tart, so it is generally cooked with sugar and used alongside strawberries in desserts or beverages. It also adds a fantastic color, the redder the stalk the sweeter it will taste.
The ramp is the elusive bad boy of spring vegetables. These have possibly the shortest season out of all spring produce, and are still popularly foraged like truffles, giving a sense of rarity. Chefs and home cooks alike anticipate the coming of ramps to markets, sometimes traveling long distances to find them. So what are they all about? These aromatic shoots are small with broad leaves, residing within the allium family- though packed with more flavor than garlic or spring onion. Their taste somewhere in between leeks, scallions and garlic, but their delicate build and strong flavor make them perfect for pesto, pizza, jam, pickling, sautéing, or as a standalone side.
Here is an alliteration for you- fiddleheads are the furled fronds of a fledgling fern. When ferns are still young, before each wispy leaf unfurls, they form a bright green curled scroll. The shape is similar to the curled end of a violin or ‘fiddle’. These little spirals contain antioxidants and omega-3s, and are used in many different countries. The taste is sweet like asparagus, earthy like broccoli, and crisp like a green bean. Fiddleheads should be cooked before eating, via steaming, boiling or sautéing. Washing and cooking them thoroughly can reduce bitterness and ensure they are clean and free of contaminants. We recommend boiling then eating them hot, dipped in hollandaise sauce or aioli. They are also delicious pickled, or cooked in a coconut curry-type sauce.
Garden peas, shelling peas, green peas, are all the same thing- the little green specks that may have caused you to turn up your nose as a child. These are the same peas you’d find in the frozen section of the grocery store, however these are freshly harvested in spring and tediously plucked out of their pods. Young, smooth green peas will be sweet and flavorful- conveniently edible raw. As the season progresses and the peas get larger, it is best to cook them briefly via blanching for 1-2 minutes. They add a brilliant pop of green, an easy addition to curries, stews, soups, pastas, and a delicate side for seafood. The proper etiquette for eating a pea is to squash them with the back of a fork- not chase them around the plate!
This coiled allium is a wonder to look at, and has a fresh taste we love for spring. Garlic Scapes are the tender stem of a garlic plant. Typically grown in colder climates and harvested in late spring, farmers will cut off this portion sprouting out of the garlic bulb in order to promote development in the bulb itself. These young tendrils are tender and delicious, with a mild taste similar to shallots or chives. They are a good source of antioxidants, vitamin C and calcium. They can be used as the main event, like their more pungent cousin, the ramp, or diced and added recipes to build flavor. Grilled, fried, chopped into a frittata, blended into green goddess dressing, added to pizza or stir fry, they are guaranteed to please.
Planted as seedlings in the late fall, and harvested in the next spring. They are delicious grilled, roasted whole or used as pearl onions. Usually available all year round. A milder the onion, the better for eating raw. Delicious grilled, roasted, wholeand loaded with essential nutrients. Long, slender green tops. Small white bulbs are edible, but good either raw or cooked. Go for firm ones with unblemished bulbs and bright green leaves. Alternatives to spring onions would be shallots. Most onions or cousins to onions have antibacterial properties, making them a great health food.