On the Cheap

Make the Most of Spring Vegetables

May 21, 2014

Cooking on the cheap shouldn't mean minute rice and buttered pasta every night. With a little creativity and a little planning, Gabriella Paiella shows us how to make the most of a tight budget -- without sacrificing flavor or variety. 

Today: Budget-friendly ways to enjoy spring's vegetables.

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Spring vegetables are the most fetishized produce around.

I understand that winter is terrible, that after months of eating root vegetables and cabbage and other tough, hearty things, we're all ready for a change -- for something more delicate, something that isn't increasing your starch intake with every bite. That said, I've heard people talk about ramps more lustily than I've heard them talk about their partners. (They're just fancy onions -- control yourselves.) 

Radishes, asparagus, peas, and ramps have all been hyped up, and tend to run a little pricier at the farmers market. Besides asking for seconds (produce that's bruised, or not as pretty, so it can't be sold at full price) at the market, here's how to enjoy them like everyone else, without overspending: 

Pickle Them

Pickle your spring produce and you'll be enjoying them as a garnish long after the season is over. Introduce your asparagus, peas, and ramps to some brine for year-round enjoyment. 

Use Them As Pizza Toppings

Adding radishes or asparagus as pizza toppings allows you to enjoy a touch of spring flavor -- and makes for a lighter pizza -- without using up your whole batch. 

Thread Them Into Heartier Dishes

A small addition of spring vegetables acts as a flavorful garnish to otherwise ordinary meals -- ramps add a new twist to carbonara, radishes invite crunch to a grain salad or a simple butter-and-toast lunch, and peas make a creamy pasta dish fresher. Meanwhile, Green Rice is in a class of its own. 

Turn Them Into a Whole Meal

Just say "f*** it" and turn your spring vegetables into your entire dinner -- from a couscous stew to roasted asparagus topped with eggs and bread

Tell us: What are your favorite frugal ways to use spring vegetables? 

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