A few of our favorite items from the spring garden…
Arugula. Typically used in salads, sautéed in olive oil or served in Italian dishes, arugula is a simple yet peppery green. It’s also known as salad rocket, rugola, rucola or roquette. Arugula thrives in the springtime and as the leaves are picked, the plant will continue to generate more. Since this green is perishable, store for no more than two days in the refrigerator.
Spring Mix. A combination of young greens that often includes arugula, baby spinach, frisée and radicchio, spring mix makes an attractive salad with its variety of colors and textures. Available year-round, the medley of greens provides various flavors, including spicy, sweet and bitter. They’ll stay fresh up to one week in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Simply drizzle with a vinaigrette and top with fresh berries for an extremely simple, quick and healthy meal.
Shiitake Mushrooms. Originating in Japan and Korea, this mushroom variety has dark brown floppy caps and is usually about three to four inches in diameter. Frequently added to stir-fries, they’re also ideal when sautéed and stirred into scrambled eggs, added to a spinach salad with sweet & sour dressing, or used to fill lettuce wraps. The stems are too woody to be eaten, but don’t discard them as they can be used to make a wonderfully rich, flavorful stock. Store mushrooms up to three days in the refrigerator.
Asparagus. Available in green, white and purple, asparagus varies in size, from pencil thin to jumbo. Thinner spears are delicious in a salad when boiled quickly and plunged into ice water. Larger sizes can be steamed, lightly sautéed, roasted or grilled. Purchase firm spears with tight, bright tips. Place stems upright in about an inch of water, cover with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated for up to four days. Before using, wash asparagus and then snap off the bottom of each stalk – they will naturally separate at the woody part.
Leeks. Available year-round, leeks resemble gigantic green onions. They should be purchased when firm and unblemished and can be kept up to one week when wrapped loosely in a plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Leeks can be roasted, braised and sautéed (they’re especially delicious with mushrooms and bacon) or simmered into soups and sauces. Try a Mediterranean approach and prepare with complementing flavors like wine and tomatoes.