Spring Produce

Introduction

Hy-Vee Cooking Guide
Spring Produce

Spring it on with seasonal bundles of joy.

First, Learn the Leafy Greens

For building better salads (and pizzas), leafy greens not only add a variety of flavors and texture, they also provide nutrients that can reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. 

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Spinach is available year-round, but it's best in spring, since it likes to grow in cool weather. Spinach should be slightly crisp and bright green. 

Uses: Salads, obviously, but also try blending fresh spinach with olive oil and Parmesan to make a simple pesto sauce.

It's like spinach, only different. It's got a spicy, almost peppery or mustard-like flavor. You can buy arugula by itself in a bag or container, or as part of a mixed greens blend.

Uses: Salads, yes, but try using fresh arugula to top pizzas or pastas

A type of cabbage, bok choy stalks can be consumed raw or cooked. Since the leaves cook quicker than the stalks, when making stir-fries, add the stalks first and then the leaves about a minute later.

Uses: Serve raw with dip, in salads (it's especially good with Asian dressings), or in stir-fry.

Swiss chard is a leafy green that can be used like spinach, and its stalks can be used like asparagus. It's known as being an excellent source of vitamins K, A, and C. 

Uses: Steam, sauté, or braise the leaves as a side, or toss them into soups, stews, and casseroles. 

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And Then the Non-Leafy Greens

If it's spring, then these lean green veggies are at their peak. Each of these contains an important prebiotic called inulin, a type of fiber that's good for your digestive tract.

Sweet, tender asparagus is rich in folate, fiber, and vitamins A, C, and E. Store asparagus tightly wrapped in a plastic bag for up to a week in the fridge. 

Uses: Um, everything. To prepare: wash, dry, and snap off the bottom inch of each spear. Then roast it, grill it, or steam it. From raw salads to pastas, quiches, and omelets, there's always room for asparagus.

Also see, 13 Asparagus Recipes to Get You Ready for Spring

If you like garlic and onions, leeks will change how you cook for good. Just cut off the roots and slice the white and light green parts up until the dark green tough leaves (which are great for flavoring soups). Then run under cold water to remove any dirt. 

Uses: Gently saute and use like you would sweet onions. They're excellent in egg dishes. 

Peas are sold fresh in the pod, frozen, and canned. Snow peas have tasty, tender pods that are used in popular Asian dishes. Fresh shelled peas only need to cook for 1-2 minutes. 

Uses: Snow peas and snap peas are great served raw or cooked in stir-fries. Fresh shelled peas or frozen peas can be added to casseroles and pastas for extra sweetness.

Also called green onions, scallions have a milder flavor than regular onions. Simply snip off the root and slice both the white and light green parts. Kitchen schears make quick work of this. 

Uses: Sprinkle on salads, soups, pastas, and anything that just needs a little punch of flavor.

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Think of them like mini cabbages, only better. When cooked, they offer a complex nutty flavor with a subtle crunch.

Uses: Roasting, sautéing, and grilling—these methods caramelize their natural sugars, bringing out their innate sweetness. They're also excellent in an Air Fryer. Sprouts are best when they're cooked until just tender. 

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Know Your Spring Roots

Root, root, root for these vegetables in the spring. Each variety is loaded, and we mean loaded, with healthful vitamins and nutrients. 

 

From cakes to kimchi, is there anything carrots can't do? They can even help your eyes, help prevent cancer, and promote healthy skin. If buying whole carrots, rinse under cold water, cut off the greens, and peel just before eating or cooking. 

Uses: If you want to get adventurous, consider a veggie pancake, carrot fries, or even a carrot pasta. Or keep things simple but amazing and throw them on the grill.

These earthy, sweet root veggies come in several varieties, from the characteristic deep crimson to gold, white, and chioggia—shows its alternating red and white rings when cut horizontally.

Uses: To roast, remove the stems, scrub the beets, wrap each in foil, and bake for 45 to 90 minutes, depending on their size, at 400°F. Let them cool slightly and then peel the skins off with gloves. (They have a tendency to stain hands.) You can also make them into beet burgers or beet chips

If your salad is missing something colorful, crunchy, and spicy, you'll find it in radishes. To prepare: chop off the greens, rinse, and slice. 

Uses: In addition to salads, sandwiches, and topping Bahn Mi, try roasting, yes roasting, radishes with other spring veggies. 

New potatoes or baby potatoes are harvested early in the season as farmers "thin" the crops to promote the other potatoes' growth. They have a thin skin and delicate taste that's great for salads and sides.

Uses: Roasted, mashed, grilled, or tucked inside a foil pack, the possibilities with potatoes are endless.

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And Finally, Spring Fruits

And you thought this was all about veggies. Well, technically, rhubarb is a vegetable. Who knew?

Sweet and aromatic, it's no wonder strawberries are among the most popular berries consumed. While in some parts they grow practically year-round, they begin to peak in April.

Uses: Rinse berries just before consuming. Then use for shortcakefruit pizza, homemade jam, and strawberry salsa.

Also see, 9 Reasons to Use Berries in Salads and Sandwiches.

Like peaches, but not. Apricots aren't as closely related to peaches as, say, nectarines, but they do have similarities. They both have velvety skins and a sweet golden flesh, and they're both full of beta-carotene and fiber. 

Uses: Great for jams, pies, cakes, and grilling. 

Fun fact: Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable, even though it's often used as a fruit. Because of its bitter flavor, it likes to be paired with something sweet, such as strawberries, for a sweet-tart combo.

UsesThe brightly hued stalks are usually chopped, sweetened, and cooked to make jams, pies or crisps, and other desserts. The leaves, however, are considered poisonous. Stay away from those.

When it comes to cherries, there are two major types: sweet and tart. Sweet cherries are ideal for snacking (the ones you buy fresh in large bags). Tart cherries, which you can often find in the frozen section, have a short season and are ideal for baking pies and other treats. 

Uses: Wash and pit fresh cherries, then use to make sauces for meats, salsas, cobblers, and of course, pie.

Also see, 6 Sweet & Savory Recipes Using Fresh Cherries

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