There is little that compares to the beauty and simplicity of a creamy, ripe avocado. And lucky for us, they're currently in season! Early Spanish explorers discovered the Aztecs enjoying all the benefits of avocados — both as a food and an aphrodisiac. Except for the few states where they commonly grow, most states of the country shied away from this racy fruit until the 1950s. There are tons of varieties of this tasty fruit, and ever since they've entered the market, they're a fruit that people are passionate about — especially Californians.
When choosing avocados, remember that avocado color does not always tell the whole story of ripeness. To judge ripeness, give the fruit a gentle squeeze; ripe and ready avocados will be firm but yield to gentle pressure (be sure not to use your fingertips, otherwise you could bruise the fruit). Look for skin to darken and the "blossom" end to soften as an avocado becomes ripe. If an avocado is ready, it will only be good for a day or two; refrigeration will help the fruit keep for another day or so. If you plan to serve or use avocados in a few days, stock up on hard, unripened fruit, and store it at room temperature.
With Spring in full bloom, there's no better time to inject the aniselike flavor of chervil into a tired recipe for a new taste of inspiration. Closely related to carrots and parsley, this herb has been around for thousands of years. But while its flavor has been a longtime staple in European cuisine, chervil is a relatively new herbal pleasure in most American kitchens. Sometimes called "the new parsley," lucky for us, this lovely lacy herb has been popping its cute head up in high-end kitchens all over the country.
When purchasing chervil at the market, be sure to choose stems that stand proud and tall with vibrant green leaves. And like most herbs, chervil's flavor is best fresh. If you're planning on using it in a cooked dish, be sure to add it near the end of the cooking process for the best results. Interested in how to incorporate this cute herb into your next meal? Keep reading for a few recipes starring chervil.
Spring's a season of abundance, and if there's one vegetable you should eat now by the bushel, it's asparagus. At its peak from March through May, asparagus is a flash in the pan compared to other vegetables, so grab it while you can. This young Spring stalk is as lovely steamed or grilled as it is baked into a frittata or blended into a smooth soup, thanks to its distinct flavor which complements virtually any dish. Ready to learn more about buying, storing, and preparing this versatile veggie? Just read on.
On my last trip to Tokyo, we hit up a tiny place known for its spicy tonkotsu ramen, those famous skinny noodles topped with a hearty pork bone broth. The guys behind the counter shouted a counting rhyme as they deftly assembled each element of each serving, and when my teeming bowl appeared before me, I was thrilled to see a heaping pile of seasoned bamboo shoots atop the noodles. It's Spring, which means that the crunchy shoots are once again in season, and I can't wait to simmer my own batch for some seasonal stir-fries and soups.
Bamboozled by this Asian ingredient? Keep reading to learn more.
Stinging nettle: the name might lead you to believe that this plant is (1) dangerous to touch and (2) a weed. And you would be right. But despite its name and repellent nature, stinging nettles are also edible and delicious and becoming increasingly popular among foraging chefs, thanks to its abundance in the wild. Now in season, nettles could be the perfect addition to your Spring kitchen endeavors. Want to learn more about this prickly plant? Just read on.
- The stinging nettle is abundant in North America, Europe, and Asia but can also be found in parts of Africa with moist soil.
- The plant gets its name from the tiny, prickly hairs on the leaves and stems that detach from the plant when it's touched and inject a painful chemical concoction.
- Stinging nettles have a long medicinal history with uses ranging from arthritis to rheumatism relief to dandruff prevention.
- With a flavor likened by some to spinach or broccoli, nettle has become a popular Spring vegetable. Fresh and dried leaves can be steeped in tea that supposedly fights off seasonal allergy symptoms.
- Look for stinging nettle at your local farmers market. Many home chefs forage for the weed, but it's important to pick the leaves before the plant begins to flower. Eating mature stinging nettle can cause urinary tract irritation and damage.
- The plant is rich in vitamins A, C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium and high in protein for a leafy green vegetable.
- The stinging hairs on the plant can be removed by soaking the leaves in water, drying, or cooking.
If you manage to track down a bag of stinging nettles, get ready for a treat! Here are a few of the many uses for this culinary weed:
- Process blanched leaves with pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese, and olive oil for delicious stinging nettle pesto.
- Top a Neapolitan-style pizza with pancetta and stinging nettles. Crack an egg in the center a few minutes before it's done.
- Replace spinach or asparagus with stinging nettle in a Spring frittata or quiche.
- Puree into a savory stinging nettle soup.
The light bulb went on for me, with regard to seasonal eating, the first time I realized just how much more flavorful a tomato is during Summer than any other time of year. The difference was so staggering that I started to incorporate seasonality into my cooking. And the benefits actually extend beyond your taste buds: not only is eating within the current season more delicious, but it's easier on your wallet, better for the environment, and healthier. Want to learn more about eating seasonally? Read on.
We kind of can't believe that March is already here, which means National Grapefruit Month is over. We were just getting started enjoying this delicious citrus fruit! No matter, we've rounded up all of our favorite posts about grapefruits, from cocktails to salads, so that we can keep eating (and drinking) them up throughout the rest of the year.
The best part about eating seasonally is that you get to appreciate flavors and ingredients at their peak. A tomato in the cold Winter months isn't the same as one enjoyed in August, whereas citrus fruits, root vegetables, and dark leafy greens reach the pinnacle of deliciousness in Winter. Here are five fast and easy recipes that make the most out of the season.