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4 Items to Pick Up at the Market Now (and 4 to Start Eagerly Anticipating)

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Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more. 

Today: We’re ready to be done with winter squash and rutabagas. (Sorry fellas, we'll see you again all too soon.) Here's what we’re shopping for now -- and what we can’t wait to be able to put in our baskets.

4 Items to Pick Up at the Market Now and 4 to Start Eagerly Anticipating

Potatoes. They seem like cold-weather fare, and you’re ready for spring. But potatoes make for perfect comfort food when you’re forced to pull out your heavy coat yet again during the sporadic weather of March. Visit a farmers market to find unusual potato varieties and fall in love with these versatile tubers all over again.

Cook: Celeriac and Potato Soup with Mushroom, Walnut, and Celery Leaf Salad or Twice-Baked Potatoes with Kale 

4 Items to Pick Up at the Market Now and 4 to Start Eagerly Anticipating

Fennel. In season from late fall into early spring, you still have time to enjoy fennel. And don't waste a bit of it -- the entire plant can be consumed, not just the bulb. Put the stalks, fronds, seeds, and pollen to use too! 

Cook: Freekeh Salad with Fennel and Mint or Apple and Fennel Soup  

4 Items to Pick Up at the Market Now and 4 to Start Eagerly Anticipating

Broccoli Rabe. Broccoli rabe seems like it should be a type of broccoli. Its flowers look like tiny broccoli florets, and if you stripped its stalk of leaves, you might swear it’s broccolini. You'd be wrong, but not so far off -- broccoli rabe is a member of the brassica family, although it’s more closely related to turnips than it is broccoli.

Cook: Broccoli Rabe Potato and Rosemary Pizza or Burrata Bruschetta with Broccoli Rabe 

4 Items to Pick Up at the Market Now and 4 to Start Eagerly Anticipating

Endive. You probably won’t be able to pick this one up at your local farmers market, but that’s par for the course with this diva of a vegetable. After all, how many vegetables do you know that need to be grown twice before harvesting and make you sound slightly pretentious when you’re pronouncing their name correctly?

Cook: Roasted Endive with Walnut Vinaigrette or Grilled Endive & Watercress Salad with a Blue Cheese Vinagrette 

These next 4 items aren’t at the market yet, but they will be before you know it. Here’s what we’re eagerly anticipating:

More: Are you anxious for warmer weather too? Here are 10 recipes to welcome spring

4 Items to Pick Up at the Market Now and 4 to Start Eagerly Anticipating

Mushrooms. Cultivated mushrooms are available year-round, but wild mushrooms return in the spring. Mushroom stems are edible, but on larger or older mushrooms they can be woody and tough. Cut them off, but don't toss them -- they'll add wonderful depth to your next batch of stock.

Cook: Baked Eggs with Mushrooms and Gruyere or Nigella Lawson's Linguine with Lemon, Garlic, and Thyme Mushrooms 

4 Items to Pick Up at the Market Now and 4 to Start Eagerly Anticipating

Asparagus. Asparagus isn't a fussy vegetable -- just snap off the bottom of the stems and you're done. (Be sure to save those bits for stock!) If you're worried that a good rinse won't take care of the extra dirt, we have two strategies for making sure your asparagus stays grit-free

Cook: Asparagus and Arugula Pizza with Vegan Pesto or Fried Eggs with Asparagus, Ramps, and Oyster Sauce

4 Items to Pick Up at the Market Now and 4 to Start Eagerly Anticipating

Ramps. Ramps belong to the allium family (like garlic, onions, and chives), and they take 5 to 7 years to mature! So if you’re foraging for them, do so responsibly -- only harvest 10 to 15% of a patch of ramps in a given year, so the area isn't cleared out and has a chance to regrow.

Cook: Justin Burdett's Chilled English Pea Soup with Garlic Cream & Pickled Ramps or Green Goddess Dressing (Ramp Tramp Dressing) 

4 Items to Pick Up at the Market Now and 4 to Start Eagerly Anticipating

Pea Shoots. Pea shoots come from none other than the pea plant. Shocker, right? Usually the delicate tendrils come from snow or sugar snap pea varieties, but any garden pea variety will produce them.

Cook: Ramped Up Crostini with Ricotta and Pea Shoots or Pea Shoot and Baby Arugula Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette 

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: down and dirty, diagrams, special diets, vegetables

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Comments (6)


over 1 year ago Senorita Tijerina

Pea shoots are wonderfully flavorful. I eat them raw. The location I work at sells these and not sprouts, which is what is typically asked for before I steer them into new territory.


over 1 year ago Brianna Plaza

God, I can't wait for spring!


over 1 year ago maryvelasquez

I really needed this inspiration. Thank you!


over 1 year ago Jennifer Kepesh

Thanks! Though I am an absolute mushroom pig, and I adore asparagus, it is the ramps and peas that catch my attention today. I hope to find the pea shoots in the market.


over 1 year ago Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

Sorry, Brooklynites! Here in the San Francisco area, the local asparagus has arrived! Roasted it last night and put it in an omelet this morning.


over 1 year ago Lindsay-Jean Hard

Lindsay-Jean is a Contributing Writer & Editor at Food52.

Jealous. So very very jealous. No rubbing it in with today's temperature forecast.