This time of year is all about entertaining, being outside, and enjoying everything that nature has to offer. It’s the perfect time to take advantage of all of the amazing, fresh produce made possible by the warm weather. Corn and strawberries are classic seasonal ingredients, but there are many other delicious seasonal products that tend to get overlooked.
We’ve asked our Culinary Concept Chef Peter to round up his favorite seasonal vegetables. Read on and then head over to your local farmer’s market to get your own taste of Summer:
Available from April to June, there are many aspects to this fungi that make it the perfect Spring-time mushroom. First would be its shape. It is easily identifiable and has a unique web design on its cap that adds uniqueness to a dish. Secondly, the flavor. It has a slight nuttiness with a medium perfume and earthy finish that sets it apart. It blends well with other flavors but is best when simply sautéed with butter and lightly seasoned. It has a slight bite, which allows it to blend well with snappier vegetables of the season, like peas. They dry well, and can be used throughout the summer.
I suffered through peas my entire life, first canned and then when I was about 10, my mother discovered frozen. When I was 21, I finally discovered fresh English peas and my suffering ended. They are available from Spring to early Summer but are best right now. They are versatile, can be used in concert with other flavors, raw in salads, or simply sautéed in butter and tossed with a multitude of other seasonal vegetables. They are also great with fish, red meats, fowl, or as the main component in a chilled or heated soup. What I like best is their snap on the bite and their sweetness on the palate. Eating a freshly shucked pea right off the vine is like eating a freshly plucked apple in the fall – amazingly crisp and sweet.
I have come to both love and hate ramps. Their brief availability has made them iconic and their much anticipated arrival has led to high demand and subsequent sustainability issues. With that said, they are super tender and pack a powerful punch, robust and full of flavor. They are great grilled, sautéed in butter, in a risotto, or turned into a pesto or rub. However, I think they are best when the shoots are pickled and enjoyed with gin and a splash of vermouth.
Peak is from March through May, but they are available all summer and re-emerge mature in the Fall, making them perfect for stuffing. In the Spring the young buds are tender yet meaty, and can be used in a variety of ways. I like to simply poach them in wine with garlic and aromatics, served chilled with lemon, a great EVOO, and a pinch of salt. Aioli is another great option for dipping. They have a slight bitterness that when shaved raw, adds a great complexity to salads, and rounds out the spike of sourness that you get from your vinaigrette.