March 20th marked the first official day of spring, which means chefs across the country are welcoming a new bounty of ingredients. In the spirit of the season, we asked six of our Flagship chefs what ingredients they’re excited to cook with this spring, and here’s what they had to say:
From soups to farce (a filling for stuffed pastas like ravioli and tortellini), to sautéing the tendrils with garlic as a vegetable side, peas are an extremely versatile ingredient that signals the arrival of spring.
Sweet and crunchy, fresh English peas are a wonderful component to any pasta dish, salad, or even main entrée. They pair wonderfully with citrus or mushrooms and can be eaten raw or cooked. You can even use the pea pods to make a pea stock for a very flavorful pea soup.
Kennole Wong – Sr. Sous Chef, Menlo Park, CA
Ramps aren’t something people talk about often, but I love their intense flavor, and they are versatile to cook with. The bulbs add a pungent kick to anything that would be complemented by garlic, but they’re also amazing pickled and added to a charcuterie board or a giardiniera. The bright green leaves and red stems, which are also edible, are beautiful and can be grilled for a garnish or even deep-fried, where they will puff up.
Ramps are only available for a few weeks each year, which increases their appeal. They are also native to the East, so we are lucky to have access to local, naturally foraged ramps each spring!
Laura de Vera – Sous Chef, Washington D.C.
I absolutely love when spring arrives, and many beautiful ingredients become available. I am a garlic lover, so spring garlic/green garlic is one of the items I greatly anticipate. The young, tender bulbs are delicious and can be used in a plethora of ways. Spring garlic can be an additive to any dish or can stand solo and shine, whether its pickled, sautéed, grilled or simply eaten raw.
Fatemah Baguaei – Executive Sous Chef, New York, NY
I have a lot of fantastic rhubarb memories from my childhood, including just sitting in the garden eating fresh rhubarb.
It’s a tart vegetable in the celery family that is most commonly cooked with sugar and often paired with strawberries, but it can be used for both sweet and savory applications. Its season is typically April to June, and we just added a strawberry rhubarb jam into our menu rotation that our client is loving! Other common applications for rhubarb are bars, clafoutis, pies, crisps, chutneys, muffins and sauces.
Elena Clement – Pastry Chef, Washington, D.C.
My favorite spring ingredient would have to be artichokes. They are high in antioxidants, but a lot of people don’t cook artichoke at home because they either don’t know how, or because it takes too long. At work and at home, I like to serve them to get people interested and show them a diversity of preparations.
Alana Gillen – Sous Chef, Menlo Park, CA
Every spring, I am most excited to cook with asparagus. Unfortunately, the season for quality asparagus is very short, so I find myself looking forward to it for the rest of the year. I also like all of the wild greens, herbs and flowers that pop up in spring.
Adam Lawrence – Sous Chef, San Francisco, CA
So, whether you like fresh, crisp vegetables or spicy herbs that are unique to the season, spring is a delicious time to try something new.