Here's how to keep your produce fresh and use it all.
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Advertisement

While winter squash, root vegetables and hearty brassicas hold a special place in our hearts, but come spring, we’re ready for a refresh. Sweet, tender green vegetables plucked straight from the ground - spring’s produce is so fresh and delicate that you almost don’t need to do anything to it. This is the time of year when our cooking gets simpler and even some freshly shelled spring peas make for a satisfying snack. To help you get the most out of this miraculous yet brief season, here are the tips, tools and go-to recipes to have on hand when cooking with spring’s bounty.

Cracked New Potatoes with Fennel Raita
This veggie main from chef Biju Thomas uses every part of the fennel plant. He quarters and grills the bulb until mellow and tender, dresses thinly sliced fresh stalks with lemon, and stirs the feathery fronds into a yogurt raita spiked with fresh ginger.
| Credit: Jennifer Causey

Asparagus

Mustard-and-Mayonnaise Glazed Asparagus

Asparagus can range in size from long delicate stalks to thick stubby spears. Some believe the size has to do with age, but an asparagus plant can produce different size spears at the same time. For maximum juicy, grassy flavor, look for firm stalks that stand up straight, have smooth skin and tight heads. Asparagus is also a vegetable that benefits from little to no cooking. When you overcook it you risk a mushy texture that no one likes. Slice them up raw and pile on crostini or thinly shave for a fresh salad. Don’t forget to snap off the woody end of your stalks (all asparagus has this) and, if your stalks do have a thicker skin, you can shave off some of the tough skin at the bottom using a vegetable peeler. We also like to toss asparagus into a creamy pasta, roast it in the oven, or turn into a silky smooth soup.

Storage: For the longest fridge life, store asparagus upright in a glass of water like flowers. Cover the bottoms with a few inches of water and then place an inverted plastic bag over the buds.

What you’ll need:  Kuhn Rikon Y Peeler, $5 from williams-sonoma.com

Artichokes

Shaved Artichoke Salad
It’s artichoke season, and this bright salad goes well with nearly any meal. The combination of arugula, radicchio, and raw artichokes with lemon juice and olive oil makes for a bitter yet refreshing bite.
| Credit: © John Kernick

Artichokes require a little work, but the extra effort is well worth the reward. While shopping, look for tightly-packed, plump leaves that squeak a little when you rub them. For most recipes, you will want the tender heart of the artichoke, including the stem. To do this, snap off the dark outer leaves until you reach the yellow-ish green inner leaves. From there, you can use a paring knife to peel off the fibrous exterior of the stem and base until you’ve shaved the artichoke down to the ‘meat’. Lastly, use a spoon or melon baller to scoop out the whiskers in the inside of the artichoke - that is the choke. Raw, trimmed artichokes will oxidize, so store your hearts in a bowl of water with a generous squeeze of lemon juice until you’re ready to use them. Early-season petite artichokes are excellent shaved raw and tossed into a salad or warm pasta, while the larger ones are perfect for stuffing or steaming whole and served with lemon and butter.

Storage: Artichokes will keep in a fridge for up to a week. Loosely wrap them in a plastic bag and make sure they’re very dry beforehand - they can easily mold.

What you’ll need: Shun 4-inch Paring Knife, $50 (usually $113) from surlatable.com

Fava Beans & Spring Peas

Ricotta-Fava Toasts Recipe
Credit: Eva Kolenko

For both fresh spring peas and fava beans, minimal cooking is key. Look for super-green pods that aren’t dried out and that show the contours of the peas/beans inside. For fava beans, each bean is encased in its own tough skin within the pod. To shell them, drop in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, then drain and transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking. Once peeled, these buttery little beans are ready to use! This same process goes for spring peas. If you’re not serving them raw, then cook ever so briefly in boiling water. From here you can add them to salads or pile on crostini smeared with pillowy ricotta. If you are heating, like in this vinegar-braised chicken with peas and leeks, add them towards the end of the process so they don’t overcook and lose their vibrant green color.

Storage: Peas and fava beans will stay freshest in their pods, so only shuck them when you’re ready to use. Loosely wrap in a plastic bag and store in the fridge.

What you’ll need: Food52 x GreenPan Nonstick 2-Quart Sauce Pan, $59 from food52.com; Golden Rabbit 1.5-Quart Enamel Colander, $32 from food52.com

Morels

Tarragon Chicken with Morels Recipe
Credit: Alison Miksch

Morels are meaty, honeycomb-shaped mushrooms that are in season from late March to early June. When you are ready to cook, you can wash your morels in cold running water, then pat them dry with paper towels. Since morels have a trace amount of toxins that can only be removed by heating, do not eat them raw. Poach them and pair with asparagus for a peak-spring salad, or braise in a silky cream sauce with chicken breasts and tarragon.

Storage: Make sure your morels are very dry, then store in a paper bag in the fridge. Discard any that are bruised or softening because they will rot quickly and cause the other mushrooms to deteriorate, too.

What you’ll need: Le Creuset Signature 2¼-Quart Braiser, $180 (usually $250) from williams-sonoma.com

New Potatoes

Cracked New Potatoes with Fennel Raita
This veggie main from chef Biju Thomas uses every part of the fennel plant. He quarters and grills the bulb until mellow and tender, dresses thinly sliced fresh stalks with lemon, and stirs the feathery fronds into a yogurt raita spiked with fresh ginger.
| Credit: Jennifer Causey

New potatoes are typically small in size and have a thin, delicate skin that makes them easy to prepare. When shopping, look for potatoes with smooth skin and a firm texture. Avoid any that are soft, wrinkly or beginning to sprout. This spring, we’ll be grilling them for a new-age potato salad and steaming whole to go in our niçoise salad.

Storage: Do not wash potatoes until you are ready to use them - they are best stored in a cool dry place with no direct sunlight. If there is a bad potato in the bunch, toss it right away - one funky potato can ruin the whole bag.

What you’ll need: Food52 x GreenPan Nonstick Stock Pot with Steamer Insert, $149 from food52.com

Ramps

Oma’s Green Mountain Salad
Credit: Eva Kolenko

Few things signify the arrival of spring more fittingly than ramps. These petite wild leeks have developed a loyal following for their fleeting appearance at farmer’s markets and garlic-and-onion flavor. When picking them out, look for perky green leaves and dry roots (skip anything that’s slimy). Ramps are as versatile as any onion: sauté and toss with hot pasta and salty cheese, char and mix with buttermilk for a bracing dressing, or pickle and mound on crisp crostini and fresh ricotta.

Storage: Store in a plastic bag separately from other foods - their onion flavor can permeate other produce.

What you’ll need: Weck 26-ounce Canning Jar, $6 from crateandbarrel.com

Radishes

Citrus-Roasted Halibut and Braised Radishes
Credit: © Eva Kolenko

Radishes come in all shapes and sizes: Elegant breakfast radishes, gem-toned Easter egg radishes and milder long white daikon radishes, to name a few! If you can, buy your radishes with the leaves attached. The peppery greens can be sautéed, tossed into salads or add dimension to a pesto. You want radishes that are firm with a definitive crunch. While they will always be one of our favorite snacks with a smear of good butter and flaky sea salt, we also like to braise them and pair with a mild fish like halibut, dice and toss into potato salads or thinly shave and arrange on our morning avocado toast. For long-lasting crunch, let your sliced radishes sit in ice water before adding to your salad, open-faced sandwich or crudité platter.

Storage:

Radishes will last the longest in the fridge if you remove their tops and store the greens and roots in separate plastic bags.

What you’ll need: Benriner Mandoline Slicer, $60 from williams-sonoma.com

Rhubarb

Deep-Dish Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
This strawberry rhubarb pie recipe is classic and perfectly tart-sweet. The dough can be made with just butter, but swapping in some lard yields an even flakier crust.
| Credit: © Tina Rupp

Rhubarb is a vibrant pink vegetable with celery-like stalks and a supremely tart flavor. Look for stalks with a firm, glossy exterior and color ranging from pinkish-green to deep magenta - the darker in color, typically the sweeter they are. While you’ll often find rhubarb tempered with sugar and baked into pies or muffins, rhubarb can also be used in savory recipes. This spring we’ll be using it in this rhubarb mostarda and serving with fresh cheeses, or braising it with lamb shanks for some unexpected tartness.

Storage: As many know, rhubarb leaves are toxic. To store, trim and discard any leaves or roots and wrap loosely in a plastic bag before storing in the fridge. Rhubarb also stores exceptionally well in the freezer so you can chop it up and save for a little taste of spring in mid-winter. Wait to wash rhubarb until you’re ready to use it.

What you’ll need: Staub 9-inch Ceramic Pie Dish, $30 (usually $45) from macys.com