How to choose the best vegetables for the spring season.Spring-fresh and nutrient-packed artichokes, asparagus, peas and salad greens are in season now. This handy guide offers information on picking the best spring vegetables and the health benefits of each.
Italians have a deep attachment to the artichoke, which is native to the Mediterranean and first appeared in modern records in Naples around 1400. When spring rolls around in Rome, artichokes are served every way possible, from deep-fried to thinly sliced raw and topped with shaved pecorino and fruity olive oil. Then when the season is over, frozen and canned artichokes are definitely convenient, making artichokes a great addition to weeknight meals and quick dips.
Shopping Tip: Look for green, plump, compact heads. Brown spots on the scales may be unattractive but indicate that the artichokes have been frost-kissed and have improved flavor.
Storage Tip: Refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to 1 week.
King Louis XIV of France was so fond of asparagus he ordered greenhouses to grow the delicacy year-round. Today, you don’t need to be royalty to enjoy it anytime, but it is the freshest and tastiest in spring.
What You Get: One stalk of asparagus contains just 4 calories and delivers healthy doses of folate, potassium and fiber.
Shopping Tips: Consumers who choose spindly asparagus are actually missing the juicy tenderness of fatter, more robust spears. "Elegantly thin" asparagus is less sweet, more grassy and herbaceous. Shun any spear that appears shriveled or whose bud is spreading open.
Storage Tip: If you’re not going to eat your asparagus within a day or two, stand it upright in a glass of water to keep it hydrated.