Spring is coming. (Not quite as ominous as winter, but I suppose that’s the point.) Just when it seems like you can no longer tell where you yourself ends and your parka begins, March is over and Ma Nature finally makes her grand spring entrance, summoning the sun and flowers, and daring you to show a little skin again already. While she may be a somewhat fickle mistress (what was with that heat wave in January? And why is it still forecasted to snow in April?) she is not entirely cruel, and so with that dare she also brings forth the first edibles of spring; those elements with taste and flavor so teeming with life and vibrancy that it’s even possible to imagine wanting to leave behind the rich comfort foods of our winter hibernation.
With the first bout of warmer weather this time of year, the first crocuses shoot through the soil, and so too do all manner of delicious spring produce. Here we’ve assembled a roundup of recipes celebrating the bounty of spring, that are all delicious, but pose no serious threat to the forthcoming swimsuit season.
Considered by many in the culinary realm to be the true herald of spring, these wild baby leeks, known colloquially as ramps, will make their way all over restaurant menus in April. Tiny bulbs with green shoots that are milder in texture and flavor than their adult brethren, they offer a versatile pop of flavor and color in everything from soup to pizza. A simple pickled preparation extends their versatility even further so you can celebrate early spring all year long. (Is it skeptical to start preserving the literal first things out of the ground?) Get our Pickled Ramps recipe.
Nutty and meaty with a distinctive honeycomb shape, morels are the springtime Prom King of the mushroom family. Forget what I said above about swimsuit season; these beauties are gonna require a little butter. Or olive oil. Or crème fraîche. Or Cognac. Or really why not all of the above? Swimsuits be damned! But if it makes you feel a little better, a pickled ramp or two as per above certainly wouldn’t hurt these canapés. Get our Morel Mushroom Toasts recipe.
For those of you that find too much spring color all at once jarring, white asparagus is just the plant to usher you more gently from snow season to swim season. Light in color but full on flavor, this simple puréed soup of white asparagus and potatoes is good to bolster you through that final cold snap. (Or enjoy it cold when the thermostat mysteriously soars in April.) Get our White Asparagus Soup with Pistachios recipe.
Then sun is out, the rains have stopped, and the temperature seems pretty intent upon staying above 60…Do we dare? Is it actually springtime? When that’s the case, (finally!) this glorious grain and vegetables salad packed with spring ingredients is nearly tripping over itself with verdancy and brightness, ready to mark the actual moment when salad becomes a welcome, refreshing meal option again. Get our Spring Pea Bowl with Radish, Quinoa, Mint, and Almonds recipe.
It bears mentioning that not all things that reach their peak flavor in spring come from the garden. If your local farm share or butcher offers spring lamb, who are you to argue with that sort of seasonal thinking? These beautiful, flavorful chops double down on flavor with boosts from herbs and olives. Pair these with literally any other item on this list for a gorgeous spring patio dinner. Get our Lamb Chops with Olive and Herb Crust recipe.
Fiddlehead ferns are a bit of a dark horse in the spring produce canon. But their mysterious nature echoes the madrigals and sonnets of spring. Named for the curved end of strummed string instruments, their distinct spirals are the fronds before the unfurling. The promise of what’s to come. The miracle of reproduction. But also they’re tasty and have a lot of fiber so, enough with poetry. Get the Roasted Fiddlehead Ferns with Meyer Lemon and Capers recipe.
Because what’s the fun of eating all your spring vegetables without a little treat? Rhubarb, you beautiful mystery, you. The universe definitely had a little fun when it thought up this sour pink celery that nonetheless functions well as dessert. Get our Rhubarb Almond Bars recipe.
Might I just also add that this lineup offers a pretty knockout, multicourse meal—from appetizer to soup, to salad, to main, to side, to dessert—if your love of Spring requires that level of celebration.