Springtime is here! And with that comes green grass, blooming flowers, and fresh produce. I, for one, am extremely happy to see farm stands getting ready to open and I can’t wait to go and buy all the best Vermont spring foods.
It’s safe to assume the best Vermont spring foods to cook with this spring are going to be vegetables and greens. But I’ve got some other really great local, seasonal ingredients that you’re going to love.
Plus, I’ll share a few of my favorite ways to use them. I am a huge fan of eating locally. Not only am I excited to get back to eating great Vermont spring foods, but as a chef, I have many new and fresh ideas to share about consuming our seasonal provisions.
For example, greens don’t always have to be for salads. And goat cheese doesn’t always have to go on a charcuterie board. I’ll showcase some of my favorite Vermont ingredients that you need to go find ASAP to liven up your spring menus, and I’ll give you ample inspiration for how to use these exciting seasonal ingredients.
I live near Trillium Hill Farm in Hinesburg and am the first in line to grab their bags of fresh greens. Every week I can get an assortment of spinach, kale, mixed greens, and my ultimate favorite, claytonia. Claytonia is the leafy green I can not live without (I raved about claytonia last year, too!)
Yes, salads are wonderful, but what else can you do with these fresh greens? I add them to pesto, smoothies, fried rice, and pasta salads. My favorite spring breakfast is a bowl of sauteed kale with a fried egg and Everything Bagel Spice seasoning.
Vermont Creamery’s Clover Blossom Honey Goat Cheese
Have you tried this yet?! You are in for such a treat if you love goat cheese. It has the perfect smooth texture you expect from Vermont Creamery and the slightest hint of sweetness that’s not overpowering and pairs with just about anything.
Of course, it’s a great pairing for a meat and cheese board, but my favorite thing to do with this goat cheese right now is to add it to a vegetable sandwich with avocado, claytonia, and roasted red peppers.
Sobremesa Fiesta Roja
Sobremesa is a locally-owned fermented food producer that creates some of the most delicious sauerkraut and kimchi I’ve ever had. The best part is that an awesome Vermont mom creates these special Vermont-fermented goodies!
My favorite is the Fiesta Roja. It has red cabbage, carrots, onions, and garlic with some spices including cumin. This flavorful topping is amazing on tacos and scrambled eggs. It’s also one of my favorite vegetable sandwich ingredients.
Another fun way to use it would be to spread a little bit of the Honey Blossom Goat Cheese on sourdough and then top it with the Fiesta Roja. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and tangy!
This one may seem too obvious, but I love how maple sugaring marks the transition from winter to spring. One minute we’re enjoying sugar on snow and the next we’re making maple lemonade! There are plenty of ways to use maple syrup that don’t require pancakes.
I love using maple syrup in my seasonal cocktails and mocktails. A mocktail can be as simple as some club soda, a splash of orange juice, limes, and a drizzle of maple syrup. You can also use it as a replacement for simple syrup in margaritas.
I could write a post on ramps alone as I feel a lot of you have an abundance on your property and not a lot of ideas on how to use them. Ramps are one of the best Vermont ingredients that people will be talking about a lot in the next few weeks.
Ramps are from the allium family and grow wild in Vermont and many other Northern states. They have the same flavor profile as onions and garlic. The harvesting season is very short, so cooking with fresh ramps is very special to me.
I use ramps and walnuts to make pesto and then I freeze it for long-term storage. You can substitute ramps for basil in any pesto recipe. I also add fresh ramps to frittatas, salads, and fried rice. They are also great in homemade poke bowls.
If you’re harvesting ramps yourself, it’s important to harvest them sustainably. You can learn more about harvesting ramps here so that you’re enjoying the bounty but also protecting the plant. Take just enough to eat and leave enough plants to repopulate the area you harvest. In this way, you can revisit a ramp cluster for many years.
Here’s another ingredient that you can find right in your backyard! This particular foraged ingredient is extremely invasive, so proper harvesting and disposal are both strongly encouraged.
Japanese Knotweed tastes a little bit like rhubarb and has more of an earthy flavor to it. One of the coolest things about this ingredient is that you can use it in many savory and sweet applications. I found this article very helpful.
Pickling is a great way to try Japanese Knotweed if you’re new to this ingredient. But you can get as crazy as making sorbet and fruit leather with it, too!
What are your favorite Vermont ingredients to use this spring? I love hearing from other Vermonters about products that are in their local markets or farm stands. Please share with us what you’ve seen so far and how you’re using it in the kitchen!
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