I’m a firm believer in eating seasonal and local foods. I adore farmers’ markets, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) and any sort of farm-to-table delivery. If you can get fresh and local ingredients delivered to your door, right from the farm…why wouldn’t you?
Nothing connects you more with your food than knowing exactly where it comes from. And living in Ontario, we are very lucky to have some seasonal produce coming at us RIGHT NOW.
What’s seasonal in May? It’s still a little chilly!
Root vegetables are pretty well always available which is awesome. Carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cucumbers and onions are staples in almost every household. It’s nice to know we can get those locally for most of the year. Well, mostly local.
But out of the ground? One of the first crops to come up in Ontario is one of my FAVOURITES: Asparagus!
Thick or thin, white or green, you’re going to find this everywhere right now. To make sure you’re getting the freshest asparagus, look for smooth skin and tight buds at the top. They can be green or purple, it’s all good, but make sure they’re not brown or limp.
To keep them fresh for up to a week, treat them like flowers. Cut of the bottoms, and stand them upright in a glass (or a vase) with some water in the fridge. They’ll be good for a week.
What else do I love to see right now? It’s still early but RHUBARB!
I absolutely love rhubarb and the best part is…you might even be growing some in your backyard! Many people don’t even know it when they see it, but the leaves get really, really big and the stalks can be green until they are ready to pick and then they are bright pink or red!
If you’re not picking the rhubarb right out of the ground, make sure the stalks are firm and brightly coloured. Only eat the light green and red/pink parts and make sure you clean them very well. The leaves are toxic and should not be eaten.
Rhubarb will keep, wrapped in plastic, for up to a week in your fridge. It also freezes really well if you found you bought too much and won’t be using it. Don’t let it go to waste! Chop it up and freeze it until you’re ready to make something delicious.
Speaking of something delicious, this Coconut Rhubarb cake is AMAZING. I came up with it for Canada Day one year and I’ve made it several times since. It’s a sure-fire hit for your next BBQ.
What else can you get at your farmer’s market RIGHT NOW? Lettuce. There are so many varieties of lettuce, they’ll be popping up from now until the Fall. But this is another one you want to eat right away. Lettuce won’t last too long. Store it wrapped in a damp paper towel and in a plastic bag to keep it crisp for as long as possible. Make sure you rip it up and soak it in water to really clean the leaves before eating. You never know what critters can be hiding in lettuce leaves-especially if they’re coming right from the farm!
If you have leftover lettuce, don’t despair. Although you can’t freeze it, use it like you would spinach and add it to soups, stews, sauces or quiche. Some lettuce has a great flavor to add to dishes-you might find a new favourite recipe!
Two more things that are a little more obscure but I highly suggest you try them: Garlic scapes and fiddleheads. It’s too early for pictures guys-sorry! But ask at your market, or google them. You’ll see what I mean.
Garlic scapes are the flower buds of the garlic plant and cut off the tops of the bulbs and used to be thrown away because they leach the nutrients away from the bulbs but I’m SO happy we now can buy them because YUM. They’re super curly and weird looking but let me tell you, they make the greatest pesto EVER. You can use them just as you would garlic. They’re AWESOME.
Fiddleheads are curly little “fronds” from a fern. A very tasty fern. They are also a source of essential fatty acids, and are high in iron and fibre…I know, right? WHAT? These are typically sautéed with some butter and garlic (or garlic scapes) and make an amazing and impressive sidedish.
So try something new! Look up your local market and head down the next time it’s open. Take your time, talk to the farmers, and buy something you’ve never tried before. Bring your kids! Make it fun! And make sure you sign up for my newsletter to see what to look for every month…with some awesome recipes!
And if you end up making something with your farmer’s market find, please tell me about it! I LOVE hearing about all the fresh and local ingredients people are using. You can find me through email, twitter, instagram, facebook or the Nutritionnaire Community . I would love to hear from you.