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THE FRONT BURNER

FLS reporter Katie Thisdell serves up news on local food finds, tales from home cooks and inspiration to help you have fun in your own kitchen.

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In Season: May (lots of good stuff coming in early)

Here’s our monthly feature on what to look for in area farmers markets. For more vegetable-specific ideas on using seasonal produce in your kitchen, take a look through the archives of our “What’s Coming Up” feature, which ran last year in Food.

May: Farmers markets are open, and thanks to a mild winter and spring, you might even see a few of your summer favorites early this year. Caroline County farmer Emmett Snead says asparagus came in a month early this year. It typically lasts through the first week of June, but this year might only make it to mid-May. Sugar snap peas and snow peas, which usually come in in mid-May, will likely show up at the beginning of this month. Raspberries, which typically hit stands in June, could start showing up around here in mid-May, and blackberries might be here by Memorial Day. So don’t wait around to get your favorite warm-weather treats…you might miss them. Here’s a list of what to look for in May:

Asparagus (early part of the month)

Green onions

Lettuce

Radishes

Kohlrabi

Sugar snap, snow and English peas

Raspberries and blackberries (may come toward end of month)

Strawberries

Ideas for the kitchen:

-       It can be hard to stop snacking on sugar snap peas right out of the carton you buy at the farm stand, but one easy recipe to try them in is Ina Garten’s simple snap pea salad with sesame oil. Something about green peas of all varieties pairs so nicely with Asian flavors like sesame. To make it, simply remove the stems and strings from your peas (blanch them in boiling water for about 5 minutes if they’re too tough for you). Then toss them in a bowl with sesame oil, sesame seeds and salt to taste (remember, a little bit of sesame oil goes a long way). Serve as a salad or side dish.

-      “Macerate” strawberries by tossing with sugar and letting sit in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 6 hours or more. Serve over ice cream, pound cake, oatmeal or pancakes. Feeling adventurous? Add some balsamic vinegar and a little black pepper to the mix.

Look for next month: Summer’s first tomatoes

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