Peas and Pea Shoots with Spring Onions and Mint
“Come March, it’s no longer possible to be inspired by root vegetables,” says chef Mike Lata. “You’ve done everything you can.” When spring finally arrives, he uses delicate peas and pea shoots to make this simple side dish. “Cooking in the spring is like make-up sex after the bitter fight with winter,” he says.
Pizza with Garlic Cream and Nettles
Nettles grow wild all year in northern California, and chefs Tyler Rodde and Curtis Di Fede use them as many ways as possible. Because raw nettles can make you itch, it’s best to handle them with gloves or tongs. Once cooked, the nettles lose their sting and have a deep, earthy flavor that’s delicious with the green garlic cream.
Mauricio Couly uses a mix of spinach, fava beans, green beans and a good amount of mint. He makes his own paprika-spiced empanada dough; store-bought empanada wrappers (available in the freezer section of many supermarkets and specialty food stores) work well, too.
Spring Vegetable Stew
When fresh fava beans are available, use them in place of the cranberry beans.
Roasted Radishes with Radish Greens
Gerard Craft came up with this clever recipe one year when his local farmer had an abundance of radishes. Craft tried roasting them. The result: warm, crisp-tender radishes with delightfully bitter greens, which he finishes with butter and lemon.
Garlic-Rubbed Pork Shoulder with Spring Vegetables
Pork shoulder is often braised or smoked, but Andrew Green rubs it with garlic and herbs, then slow-roasts the meat until it’s juicy and crusty.
Short Ribs with Mushrooms and Spring Vegetables
To layer the flavors in this dish, chef Rory Herrmann marinates beef short ribs and vegetables in red wine overnight, then uses the marinade in the braise as well. Spring vegetables help lighten the rich stew.
Spring Panzanella with Asparagus
Recipes for panzanella (a Florentine bread salad popular in the summer) typically call for tomatoes, but in the spring, Mike Lata prefers using seasonal ingredients like asparagus and radishes.
Farfalle with Spring Vegetables
Chef Douglas Monsalud serves hyper-seasonal dishes like this lemony pasta salad with lots of green vegetables and herbs.
Crispy Soft-Shell Crabs with Bangalore-Style Dipping Sauce
This recipe is a great break from the soft-crab po’boys and meunière-style preparations.
Morel-and-Asparagus Salad with Frisée and Butter Lettuce
This light, simple salad highlights poached morels and asparagus with a combination of frisée and butter lettuces.
Beer-Braised Chicken Stew with Fava Beans and Peas
Paul Kahan is a big fan of chicken thighs because they have so much flavor and are so inexpensive—the best of both worlds. He braises the thighs in beer to make an excellent spring stew that he (naturally) pairs with more beer, such as Pere Jacques from Chicago's Goose Island Beer Company, a Belgian-style ale full of caramelized malt flavors.
Pea Consommé with Mint
This delicate broth is full of vitamin C, thanks to the pea pods Jeremy Fox simmers. (Snow peas are just as delicious and easier to find.) He tops the consommé with shards of white chocolate because he likes the way it brings out the peas’ sweetness while adding only a little fat.
Spring Vegetables with Pickled Onions
Eduard Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban pickle ramps for this dish, but cipollini are easier to find and work nicely as well. The recipe makes more pickled onions than you'll need, but they keep for several weeks in the refrigerator and are delicious as a garnish for meat or cocktails.
Veal Stew with Spring Greens
This lemony stew has a delicious mix of spinach, sorrel, watercress, romaine and herbs.
Spring Lettuce Salad with Roasted Asparagus
The rolling hills surrounding Lexington, Kentucky—some of the country's most expensive rural real estate—are used primarily for Thoroughbred grazing. "But outside that 15-mile ring are great farms," says Amber Huffman, the Jackson family's private chef. She features farmers' market lettuces here, which get warmed by roasted asparagus.
Lemon, Poppy and Chèvre Cheesecakes with Rhubarb
“I am obsessed with the chèvre from Texas’s Pure Luck Farm,” says Laura Sawicki. “I love how well it pairs with the cooked rhubarb in my cheesecakes.”
Spring Peas with Mint
Pairing Suggestion: Vinegary dishes and wine can be a terrible combination. But the sharp chopped red onion Mark Ladner tosses with these tangy peas makes the recipe delicious with a lightly tannic red. Dan Amatuzzi likes a red wine from Lazio.
Falsone's Roasted Artichoke-Stuffed Artichokes
You don’t need a paella pan to make paella; any large frying pan will do. Serve this paella hot or at room temperature “as it is often eaten in Spain”, as is or topped with toasted sliced almonds.
Creamy Spring Onion Soup
This fresh-tasting soup can be prepared with scallions or green garlic (which is harvested before the cloves have matured and has a subtle garlic flavor). A swirl of buttermilk mixed with fresh goat cheese at the end adds a nice tang.
Grilled Asparagus Subs with Smoky French Dressing
Tyler Kord smokes the French dressing for his asparagus sandwiches over wood chips. This simplified version gets its smokiness from chipotles and smoked salt.
Soft-Shell Crab and Bacon Sandwiches
As a Baltimore native, David Lentz feels strongly about the proper way to cook soft-shells: pan-fried (he hasn't let his girlfriend, Suzanne Goin, prepare them since she tried to grill them). He arranges the crabs on a baguette with bacon, cabbage slaw and mustard crème fraîche and eats the sandwich open-faced, though it's neater with the top on.
Sautéed Radishes with Orange Butter
Emeril Lagasse sautés radishes and their greens with bacon, shallots and orange juice until they’re perfectly crisp-tender.
Spiced Rhubarb Soup with Vanilla Ice Cream
This silky fruit dessert is delicious on its own or topped with vanilla ice cream. Just be sure to only barely cook the rhubarb, so that it retains its crispness—and plenty of tangy flavor.
Fava Bean Pasta e Fagioli
Chef Mike Lata’s spring version of pasta e fagioli, the Italian soup, uses fresh fava beans in place of borlotti or cannellini beans, along with meaty bits of bacon and a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.