The first day of Spring was a few weeks ago. In Santa Fe, we are experiencing the usual Spring weather – windy sunny afternoons and chilly mornings / evenings, with the occasional snowstorm! It was cold and cloudy a few mornings ago and this turned into a “wintry mix” of rain and snow. I’m ready for a true spring.
In contrast, a week ago the fruit trees were blossoming. Cholula and I went on a jog through my neighborhood. There were apricot, peach, and cherry trees in full bloom. Last year we had a bad freeze in January and a bad spring for blossoms. I’m hoping for a good fruit season in spite of the snow. I can’t wait for apricots from my neighbor’s tree!
Once spring is showing signs, I start shopping at the farmer’s market on a regular basis. Unfortunately, I can’t get all the produce we need there. Below is a list of items to look for locally, and another to look for at the supermarket. The remainder of my early spring pantry are the dry items I use to complement all the fresh produce.
Early Spring Farmer’s Market & CSA Finds
Radish – Small radishes take less than thirty days from sowing the seed to harvest. They are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. Look for “French Breakfast” radishes. They are elongated white and red radishes, and they are my favorite.
Overwintered Spinach – This is my favorite green. It is a mature spinach leaf, ruffled with a thick stem. I’ll remove the stems if making a salad, but leave them on for juice or smoothies. My favorite producer for this green in Northern New Mexico is Red Mountain Farm. Located in Abiquiu, they specialize in greens, potatoes, leeks and onions.
Baby Salad Greens – Greenhouses and hoop-houses are turning out many varieties of tender salad greens.
Other Greens – Basically, most greens are cold weather lovers, thriving when most of the day is cold, cool, or warm, but never hot. This means we see them in the spring and fall. This time of year, chard, kale, mustard, spinach, turnip, and collard greens can all be found at farmers markets in a more tender size than the varieties found in supermarkets.
Baby Beets – bunched crimson, golden and striped varieties are available in golf-ball sizes right now. The greens are usually attached, and are great for cooking or juicing. I love to roast baby beets and marinate them in a light vinaigrette. The earthiness really benefits from the acidity of the vinegar.
Baby Turnips – Delicious mild white, purple top and black turnips are available very small like the beets. Their greens are often attached as well and are great cooked or shredded in slaw.
Items to Seek Out at the Supermarket
Carrots – This is one of the best times of year for carrots. Take advantage of sweet baby carrots & multicolored bunched carrots with tops.
Asparagus – Some people like the super tender thin pencil asparagus. I prefer jumbo asparagus for its versatility. There isn’t any difference in flavor, but the jumbo asparagus comes from older, more established plants. If you find jumbo asparagus, peal the lower part of the stalk before steaming, grilling, or roasting.
Peas – Snow, sugar snap, & English shelling peas all arrive in the market in early spring. I’ll be posting recipes with them in the next few weeks. Watch the size of the English peas – if they are too large, they will be starchy instead of tender and sweet.
Rhubarb – One of my favorite spring arrivals, this sour complement to mid spring strawberries, is an old garden favorite. I plan on experimenting with raw rhubarb preparations this year. I’ll let you know how it goes…
My Early Spring Pantry
Condiments – Dijon Mustard, Homemade Radish Kimchi, Homemade Preserved Lemons, Homemade Tahini, Homemade Sauerkraut, Homemade Sweet Soy Sauce, Honey, Oils: Coconut, Olive & Dark Sesame, Miso, Nutritional Yeast Flakes, Pickled Ginger, Salt: Fine Sea, Kosher, & Pink Crystal, Soy Sauce, Vinegars: Balsamic, Sherry
Frozen Items – Baby Artichokes, Blueberries, House Prepared Bananas, House Prepared Legumes: Black Beans, Pintos, Red Kidney Beans & White Beans, Strawberries, Peas
Fresh Fruit – Bananas, Citrus: Oranges, Lemons & Limes, Kiwi, Rhubarb
Nuts & Seeds – Butters: Almond, Peanut & Tahini, Whole Almonds, Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds, Sesame Seeds & Walnuts
Dry Legumes – Mung beans, Split Red Lentils, Yellow Split Peas
Spices – Bay Leaves, Cardamom, Cayenne Pepper, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cumin, Homemade Curry Powder, Homemade Garam Masala, New Mexican Red Chile Powder, Nutmeg, Pimenton, Red Chile Flakes, Star Anise, Sweet Paprika & Turmeric
Vegetables – Asparagus, Avocado, Beets, Carrots, Celery, Garlic, Ginger, Greens: Kale, Over Wintered Spinach, Romaine, Swiss Chard, Herbs – Chives, Cilantro, Parsley, Scallion & Thyme, Onions – White, Red & Yellow, Peas: Sugar Snap & Snow, Radish: Daikon & Smaller Varieties
Other Dry Items – Canned Garbanzo Beans, Brown Rice, Dried Chiles – Ancho, Chipotle, & New Mexican, Dried Fruit: Cherries, Dates & Raisins, Noodles: 100% Buckwheat Soba, Korean Buckwheat / Rice, & Thai / Vietnamese Rice, Raw Buckwheat Groats, Sea Vegetables: Hjiki, Nori, & Wakame, & Sundried Tomatoes, Whole Canned Tomatoes
It’s starting to look like spring again after the the snow earlier in the week. My next post will be Personal Update #2. Look for it in a few days.
Love & Tomatoes,