May is the season of tender short-lived greens and blossoms; some of them are only available for a couple of weeks before growing further on and bearing fruit. Find out which May produce you can refresh your menu with!
Not sure if you knew this, but anyway: artichokes are the immature thistle blossoms! Well, not the regular spiky nuisance growing wild, but of its edible cousin. Brought to the United States by immigrants from Italy, artichokes pair up perfectly with lemon, garlic, mint or thyme. Make sure you get young plants, though – mature chokes take longer to cook, plus only their inner hearts and leaf bottoms are edible, while young chokes can be eaten whole.
Cooking with artichokes:
Globally popular deep blue berries covered with a thin layer of mist can grow almost everywhere, including the Arctic. Sweet and tart, blueberries make good fillings for pies and tarts; they make wonderful jams and – surprisingly – work great in some salads.
Cooking with blueberries:
Munching on flowers may seem unnatural at first, but these pretty lavender-colored puffs have an oniony flavor that morphs gradually from sweet and mild to strong and pungent while you are chewing. Add chive blossoms to pastas, omelets and other egg dishes or fish. Or, cork up a bottle of chive blossom vinegar and use it to make salad dressings. Look for chive blossoms in Asian grocery stores, at farmer’s markets or in your own back yard if this is where you grow your chives.
Cooking with chive blossoms:
BROAD BEAN GREENS
Tender shoots of broad bean (also known as fava) plants are a revelation, just like pea shoots we told you about last month. Use them in fresh salads for an additional legume flavor with a greenish note or sautee them with garlic and other vegetables. While fava bean greens may be unavailable in supermarkets, you can often find them at farmer’s markets and Asian grocery stores. And if you live in a farming area, look for broad bean greens right in the fields – they are commonly used as a cover crop.
Cooking with broad bean greens:
GARLIC AND ONION SCAPES
Garlic and onion scapes are tender, sweet stalks of young garlic and onion plants with unopened flowers at the end. These juicy sprouts can be sautéed in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper – their garlicky and oniony flavors work well by themselves. However, they would be a good substitute for regular garlic or onion in dishes that do not require a very pronounced taste.
Cooking with garlic scapes:
Eggs are available all year round, which makes us forget that hens do not produce eggs in winter, as the amount of sunlight and heat is low. But once spring comes, they hurry outside to peck on young grass and nose through juicy green stalks in search of bugs. Pastured hens (those that get their food outdoors) produce eggs that are nutritionally better – a lot better - than those given by industrially fed birds. Look for pastured eggs at farmer’s markets.
Cooking with Pastured Eggs:
Plump light-green pods have a pleasant crunch and a special sweetness of flavor that is no longer present in mature, dried-up peas. Enjoy them fresh or sautéed briskly while they are young and juicy – in May!
Small round leaves of watercress are known and well-loved for their peppery taste and abundance of nutrients that they offer, especially when grown in season. Use watercress to cook soups or fresh salads; another great cooking idea is watercress mayonnaise.
Cooking with watercress and snap peas:
Cook with seasonal foods – it is the best way to boost your immune system and supply your body with vitamins! Oh, and remember: spring does not come everywhere at once, so if the foods listed above are not yet available in the area you live in, please take a look at the lists of foods from previous months – that produce should already be in season!