The Best of Spring Produce
We all know fresh is best, but how exactly do you choose perfect produce and keep it that way at home? Follow our tips to make the most of your plums, mangos, apricots, peas, new potatoes and arugula!
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Available with green, yellow, blue, red, purple and even almost-black skin, plums offer a sweet-tart flavor at this peak time of year. If you only ever think to eat the juicy stone fruit out of hand, consider this: Plums are equally as delicious when paired with savory recipes or an array of warm and sweet spices.
SELECT: Plump, firm (but not rock hard) fruit with shiny, taut skin. Watch out for bruises and cuts.
STORE: At room temperature in a paper bag until ripe, then refrigerate for up to 3 days.
EAT: Sliced and roasted alongside pork tenderloin and chops.
TRY: Plum Crumble, Buttermilk Pork Chops with Sautéed Plums
Also known as roquette, leafy arugula is available in full and baby sizes, and has a peppery flavor that works well in salads and sandwiches and as a topper for pizza (be sure to add it once the pie is already cooked).
SELECT: Vivid green leaves that smell fresh and feel crisp, not soft. Watch out for bruises and mold.
STORE: In a plastic bag in refrigerator crisper for up to 3 days. Wash just before using.
EAT: In a salad with roasted beets, goat cheese, toasted hazelnuts and balsamic vinaigrette.
TRY: Rack of Lamb with Arugula Pesto, Sausage & Arugula Pita Pizzas
3. New Potatoes
New potatoes, or baby potatoes, come in shades of rose and gold. They are simply young potatoes harvested before they can grow to their full maturity. Thanks to their small size, fine texture and thin skin, these young’uns are especially quick-cooking and easy to work with.
SELECT: Firm potatoes with smooth skin, free of bruises, sprouts and green discolorations. Small and uniform in size are best for cooking.
STORE: In a cool, dark place (think pantry or basement) with moderate humidity. Do not refrigerate.
EAT: Tangy German-style potato salad dressed with mustard, extra-virgin olive oil, raw honey and white wine vinegar. Add scallions and fresh vegetables of your choice.
TRY: New Potato & Turkey Skillet Supper, Herbed New Potatoes
The most common varieties of mango, a sweet stone fruit native to the Indian subcontinent, include ataulfo, Haden, Francis, Kent and the ruddy-green Tommy Atkins. To check for ripeness, try sniffing a mango at its stem end – it should smell fruity and sweet.
SELECT: Firm fruit with no sticky sap on skin. Color may vary from green to red.
STORE: At room temperature until ripe, then eat within 1 to 2 days.
EAT: Pair fresh mango salsa (chopped mango, red onion, tomato, jalapeño) with grilled fish and chicken.
TRY: Chipotle Lime Fish Tacos with Mango Coconut Salsa, Thai Mango Zucchini Noodle Salad with Chicken
One of the world’s oldest known vegetables, peas are actually a member of the legume family and an impressive source of vegetarian protein.
SELECT: Firm, smooth medium pods without any white, yellow or gray blemishes. Avoid mildew spots and water damage.
STORE: In the refrigerator for up to 5 days
EAT: In a barley risotto with shrimp, lemon and fresh herbs.
TRY: Spring Fritatta with Lemon, Artichoke and Peas
Stone fruit like peaches and plums, apricot can vary in color from cream to deep orange. They are a great source of vitamin C and dietary fiber.
SELECT: Plump, firm (but not hard) fruit with velvety skin and uniform color.
STORE: At room temperature until ripe, then refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to 3 days.
EAT: Baked into a crisp with oat and almond topping. Or, chopped and added to a wild rice and pistachio pilaf.
TRY: Orange Salmon with Apricot Horseradish Salsa, Blueberry Apricot Breakfast Bars