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APRIL SEASONAL FOOD GUIDE

The April Seasonal Food Guide

Yes, oh yes! As spring creeps up on us with pale blossoms and shy green tendrils, the world of produce quietly begins to burst at the seams. The increased light and longer evenings seem to do wonders for the mood. And there is a posse of delicate spring greens eager to make a cameo in your salads, soups and sides in the coming months. Pea shoots and fava greens are gaining traction on the culinary scene. And with good cause – both possess the sweet, nutty qualities of their better-known pods but have a wonderfully young, green quality that is refreshing on the plate. Also, strawberries. Strawberries! There is really no other fruit like this lovely little red berry, and its brief peak season makes it easy to be perpetually enamored. Often favored in jams, it’s also a great addition to spring salads.



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Fresh Sardines

SARDINES kind of get a bad rap, but they’re one of the healthiest, most sustainable and cheapest fish on the market. And they’re an entirely different beast when fresh – their strong flavor is an asset this way. They’re great on the grill or the broiler, paired with a tomato sauce, or simply brushed with olive oil.

THIS MONTH: ROASTED SARDINES WITH GREEN GARLIC GREMOLATA



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Fava Beans

FAVA BEANS are notoriously fussy but they nonetheless have a dedicated following. You’ll hear folks wax rhapsodic about the fleeting, epic qualities of this handsome pod, then bemoan the labor involved in getting them to their preferred state – the twice-shelled inner bean. Their flavor is sweet, mild and nutty. They can also be grilled whole, which is a great way to get around the shelling conundrum.

THIS MONTH: PEA SHOOT SALAD WITH FAVA BEANS



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Brown Beech Mushrooms

BROWN BEECH MUSHROOMS, also known as Hon Shimeji, are native to Japan. They possess a sweet and nutty flavor and hold their shape marvelously when cooked. Use them wherever you’d like a flavorful mushroom note. They should always be cooked, as their flavor is often too strong when raw.

THIS MONTH: POACHED COD IN COCONUT MILK



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Pea Shoots

PEA SHOOTS are adorable. Their meandering tendrils and droopy, delicate leaves are a novel addition to the texture and flavor of a salad. Until just a few years ago, you’d have been hard-pressed to find this bashful green outside of Asian markets. Their flavor bears resemblance to a pea’s, but is less sweet and more green and crunchy. They are great sauteed in oil with garlic and chili. You can also serve them in salads, or prepare them similarly to spinach.

THIS MONTH: PEA SHOOT SALAD WITH FAVA BEANS


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Strawberries

STRAWBERRIES are the first of the berries to come into season. They’re found wild nearly the world over. A little bit tart, intensely sweet and ridiculously addictive, their brief peak season ensures annual excitement when they first show up in the markets. Rene Redzepi employs green strawberries at his landmark restaurant Nopa. Strawberries work equally well in salads and sweets. They’re frequently partnered with rhubarb, but are also great with just a little aged cheese.

THIS MONTH: BLACK PEPPER STRAWBERRY MINI CRISPS



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Sorrel

SORREL, also called sour grass, is a leafy green related to the yellow buttercup-type clover you see overtaking empty lots and fields in spring. Sorrel’s flavor has a tangy, slightly bitter, lemony quality. It’s frequently cooked, often in soups, to tame its flavor, but can be a lively element in salads as well.

THIS MONTH: POACHED COD IN COCONUT MILK



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Avocado

AVOCADO: Creamy, buttery and rich, avocados are native to central America and have been cultivated for so long that their wild ancestors are untraceable. While they are technically a fruit, they are most often enjoyed in a savory capacity. In Brazil, however, avocados are used mostly in sweets, often incorporated into milkshakes and ice creams. Avocados only ripen once picked, and can hang for months on the tree. While it is true that they are high in fat, it’s the good-for-you, monounsaturated kind, so eat up!

THIS MONTH: PEA SHOOT SALAD WITH FAVA BEANS



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Green Garlic

GREEN GARLIC is exactly what you’d think: young, uncured garlic that’s still green. It can be used anywhere you would use cured garlic. Its flavor is milder than that of aged garlic, which is often a welcome change of pace from garlic’s intensity. It’s the perfect substitute for regular garlic in just about any spring dish where you’d like the youthful qualities of spring produce to play a starring role.

THIS MONTH: ROASTED SARDINES WITH GREEN GARLIC GREMOLATA

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  • Sasa - April 8, 2011 - 10:09 am

    What!? Who dissed sardines? Tell them to come over *here* and say that! ;P Just this moment I am eating spring – I briefly blanched peas and thin green beans, diced a perfect avocado and chopped a mountain of spring onions and parsley, tossed over a handful of roast pumpkin seeds and poured a slug of pumpkinseed oil, lemon and garlic dressing over and it’s nice to see your pictures as I eat.ReplyCancel

  • kimberley - April 8, 2011 - 10:12 am

    Ha! You’re the best! Maybe it’s an American thing to diss sardines.ReplyCancel

  • Tine - April 8, 2011 - 1:15 pm

    Mmm, avocado!
    I recently ate guacamole on my toast: so so good!ReplyCancel

  • bianca - April 8, 2011 - 2:54 pm

    This is a genius idea. It can be overwhelming seeing all the new produce at the Farmer’s Market- I find I come home with the most random things, when the seasons change, it’s as if I’m discombobulated by all the choice. But with a broken down and concise list like this, I can’t go wrong!ReplyCancel

  • JMN - April 9, 2011 - 3:03 am

    Terrific photos as usual… I just saw green garlic at the farmer’s market here, and our beech mushrooms have been available for a while. They are excellent. Sardines, mackerel, herring… Small fishes are underrated in North America but used aplenty here in Scandinavia. Three or four small fishes and some mixed greens make a perfect lunch. I am really looking forward to your tilapia recipe!ReplyCancel

  • Lynda - April 9, 2011 - 8:19 am

    I am looking forward to this month!ReplyCancel

  • Kasey - April 10, 2011 - 5:53 pm

    I love pretty much everything in your guide. I’m still trying to convince Matt to love sardines ;) The brown beech mushrooms are definitely more up his ally. I can’t wait to see the recipe that features them! xxReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane - April 11, 2011 - 12:00 pm

    Lovely, once again! I hope you were able to find a way to use all those squash blossoms, too!ReplyCancel

  • NicoleD - April 11, 2011 - 12:45 pm

    Looking forward to all of these recipes! I’m especially giddy to try fava beans. I’m putting them on this week’s shopping list. Done and done.ReplyCancel

  • Charles - April 11, 2011 - 1:47 pm

    Noo! You can’t twice shell the fava beans – think of all that wasted fibre! People seem really keen on doing thing I’ve found, and it’s for sure – they do look more attractive once shelled the second time, but once they’re steamed or boiled the shells actually give them a whole new flavour and consistency which I love.ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey at Happyolks - April 12, 2011 - 6:59 pm

    This post makes me so happy! The pictures are stunning! Such a beautiful tribute to spring’s little treasures.ReplyCancel

  • Catherine - April 13, 2011 - 4:14 am

    Your pictures are superb. I especially like the pea shoots picture and the description of their ‘meandering tendrils’.ReplyCancel

  • kimberley - April 13, 2011 - 10:51 am

    @bianca: Thanks! So nice to hear.
    @JMN: I’m glad that we’re actually on the same page for this round of seasonal produce. I want to hear more about Scandinavian use of small fish!
    @Lynda: Thank you!
    @Kasey: Perhaps fresh sardines will win him over!
    @Elizabeth: Thanks! Oh the squash blossoms.
    @NicoleD: Fava beans are the best.
    @Charles: I agree with you, kind of! I think it really depends on the context. I love grilling fava beans whole. And I don’t always love shelling them, but sometimes that bitter element is too strong.
    @Catherine: Many thanks! And I especially enjoyed writing about the pea shoots.ReplyCancel

  • Kankana - April 13, 2011 - 10:50 pm

    just love your style. The way you pick every month seasonal stuffs and give us idea what to except the rest of the month. Truly amazing :) and the pics are amazing JUST AMAZINGReplyCancel

  • Alex at a moderate life - April 14, 2011 - 4:02 pm

    Hi! I followed Kankana’s lead over here to see what seasonal food you were serving up! What a wonderful concept! I will be sharing your website on my thoughts on friday link love at a moderate life so more folks can enjoy your seasonal fare! All the best, AlexReplyCancel

  • Megan Gordon - April 16, 2011 - 11:01 pm

    Hi there-
    Lovely blog! Hey, I write for the kitchn and we’re doing a little feature on seasonal food this week. Wondering if, in discussing your work, we can use a photo as well? Let me know if this would be o.k. with you.

    Thanks so much!ReplyCancel

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food - April 17, 2011 - 5:47 am

    I adore sardines in all their fishy glory. Thanks for this wonderful guide!

    I’m also excited for morels. Can’t get enough. :-)ReplyCancel

  • kimberley - April 17, 2011 - 9:00 am

    @Kelsey: Thanks for your sweet words!
    @Kankana: Thank you so much!
    @Alex: Yay! Glad you enjoy! And thanks for linking. :)
    @Megan: By all means, yes! I love the Kitchn. Can’t wait to see it!
    @Brian: I love them in all their fishy glory too!ReplyCancel

  • Rita - April 18, 2011 - 12:38 pm

    Your pics are simply works of art. Masterpieces. You make a simple thing look so special!ReplyCancel

  • Sasasnippets #3 | Sasasunakku - April 22, 2011 - 1:05 am

    [...] Seasonal Food Guides, not to mention her entire blog The Year in Food are an inspiration; beautiful photographs and you [...]ReplyCancel

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