Everybody let out a deep exhale because we finally made it through the winter. Hallelujah! Now that we’re officially on the other side, let’s get cooking, shall we? With so many fruits and vegetables coming into season over the next few weeks — rhubarb! asparagus! English peas! strawberries! — it’s hard to choose where to start. Fortunately, we’ve done the work for you and found some unique preparations that put all of this beautiful produce front and center. Check out these recipes that sing spring for all the culinary inspiration you need.
Most people tend to associate rhubarb with dessert, but its tart, lightly floral flavor makes it an ideal complement to savory dishes as well. Take these Rhubarb Short Ribs from Molly Yeh; the ribs get a double dose of rhubarb in both the braise base (which also combines lots of onions, garlic, and chicken stock) and a pickled rhubarb condiment to spoon over the final product. With a protein as umami-rich as slow-cooked short ribs, a pop of something piquant like rhubarb really rounds out the whole dish. Get the recipe on My Name is Yeh.
English peas are one of my favorite vegetables to work with during the spring months. How can you resist that poppy texture and verdant, slightly sweet flavor? Dolly and Oatmeal makes peas the star of the show with her Sweet Pea Risotto. Unlike a traditional stovetop risotto, which requires lots of stirring, this recipe has you do the majority of the cooking in the oven. Less work for equally tasty results? Sign me up! Get the recipe on Dolly and Oatmeal.
If you’re looking to automatically elevate any ingredient, bake it into a galette! The queen of home cooking, Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, has the perfect spring variety with this roasted leek and white bean number. The leeks first get a roast in the oven to coax out all of their natural sweetness before getting combined into a filling with cannellini beans, garlic, and a healthy amount of Gruyere cheese. The mixture then gets dolloped onto a flaky, butter-based crust before getting baked off to golden perfection. Serve with a light side salad for the ultimate spring lunch. Get the recipe on Smitten Kitchen.
Radishes are known for the crunchy bite and slightly spicy flavor. While traditionally eaten raw, Pinch of Yum goes in a completely new direction and turns them into baked chips. You heard right — chips! First, the radishes are thinly shaved and given a quick trip to the microwave to soften them slightly. Then they get coated in mixture of olive oil, honey, and cinnamon sugar before getting baked off until dried out and crunchy. An ideal potato chip substitute that’s actually good for you. Plus, you can’t beat that signature pink hue. Get the recipe on Pinch of Yum.
With a name like “Spring Spirit Polenta,” you know this dish is going to be emblematic of the season. Sarah Britton of My New Roots elevates a simple bowl of polenta with a topping of stir-fried spring vegetables including asparagus, green onions, leeks, and green peas. The whole dish gets topped with a squeeze of lemon, some grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and a glug of good olive oil. Simple, satisfying, and gorgeous to boot. Get the recipe on My New Roots.
When it comes to spring sweets, strawberries are queen, and Brooklyn Supper’s Honey Vanilla Pots de Crème serve as an elegant canvas for these ruby beauties. Similar to crème brulee, pots de crème consist of a sweet custard combining milk, cream, and egg yolks for extra richness. This particular recipe adds raw honey, cardamom, and vanilla bean for elevated flavor. After setting, the whole thing gets topped with a spoonful of strawberries macerated with honey and tarragon leaves. Serve this to your friends and you’ll really make them swoon. Get the recipe on Brooklyn Supper.
Garlic scapes become somewhat of buzz word around farmers markets and restaurants this time of year — and for good reason. These flowers that sprout from the stems of hard neck garlic offer a more subdued, delicate onion flavor that is somewhat addicting. One way to really show off the taste and texture of this special ingredient is by pickling them like Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt. Her recipe combines a traditional vinegar, water, and salt brine with chili flakes and fresh basil for a vibrant play on pickles. Fantastic eaten on their own, tossed in a salad, or chopped up and sprinkled on top of everything from pizza to grilled fish or chicken. Get the recipe on Not Without Salt.
We couldn’t complete this list of spring recipes without at least one salad recipe and this one incorporates an oft forgotten spring ingredient: fava beans. When cooked, these meaty, green beans take on a lovely, tender texture and add a bit of extra protein and heft to any dish. This salad from Naturally Ella combines baby spinach with quickly sautéed fava beans, fresh dill, and rye bread croutons before crowning it with a soft-boiled egg. No dressing needed here folks — just break the yolk, stir, and enjoy! Get the recipe on Naturally Ella.
Remember, eating with the seasons is the best way to enjoy fresh, local produce at peak flavor — a win for your taste buds and the environment. Check out this Seasonal Food Guide to see what produce is in season where you live.
More from Make It Better:
- 13 New Favorite Brunch Spots Around Chicago
- 7 Delicious Instant Pot Recipes You Need to Try
- Awesome Asparagus Recipes: 5 Easy Ways to Enjoy Spring’s Superfood
Maddie LaKind is a Chicago-born personal chef, caterer and writer. Her love of gastronomy began with an introduction to the Food Network as a teenager and has since blossomed into a deep-rooted passion. She spent her early career in the food world working at the famed Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan, before moving on to other notable spots including Detroit’s Sister Pie bakery, and Floriole Bakery, Read It and Eat bookstore and The Social Table in Chicago. In her spare time, she can be found practicing yoga, hosting dinner parties for friends and sifting through her ever-growing cookbook collection. Maddie is also a supporter of PAWS Chicago. Since adopting her two cats from the shelter, she has served as a volunteer and donated her cooking services as an auction item at fundraisers.