What’s in Season: The Best of May

May kicks off the growing season for our region, with a variety of greens to complement our gardens and dishes, well into the summer and even fall.

by Carol Cain

April delivered in the rain and ever-changing weather living up to its “mud season” nomer. Now come the May flowers and a lot more greens to enhance our gardens and our cooking. Here is a highlight of some of what’s in season in our region this month.

From now well into September we can really enjoy the freshness and versatility of the arugula. Arugula provides many of the same nutritional benefits as kale, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli but with a bit more of a tangy flavor. Edible Finger Lake’s gardening columnist, Petra Page-Mann, offers some great tips on the various seeds, including arugula, to sow now. Other leafy greens in season this month are spinach and herbs.

Parsnip is often considered a winter root, and while that is their prime season, they grow year-round serving as a great replacement for other vegetables, such as potatoes or even carrots, their closest relative. We’ve shared this Sour Cream and Garlic Mashed Parsnip recipe for when you are wanting a hearty meal, but they also make a great grilled dish side when sliced into thin strips and seasons with herbs and lemon, or cut into cubes, roasted, and served with an apple and walnut salad.

The tightly curled fern tips, known as Fiddleheads, can only be eaten when they are young and at about 6 to 8 inches tall and are cooked as one would asparagus. Because some ferns can be quite toxic, it is best to harvest them with an expert forager. Luckily, our own foraging expert, Jon Brown, offered some tips on the topic in the recent FLX Forager: Spring Treasures.

For those of us growing it, we’ve begun to see the Rhubarb leaves flourish and soon we will get to harvest and enjoy the edible part of this plant, which are the stalks. Though most people immediately think about pie when they think about rhubarb, there are some pretty fantastic recipes these stalks can be included in, such as in this cocktail, this sherbert, or this rhubarb chia compote.

Though available year-round, the Asparagus peak season is a bit short-lived and the freshest picks will go on till the end of May. We also love the versatility of the asparagus, in its varieties (green, white, or purple), but also in how to use it in our cuisine. Check out this Grilled Spring Onions and Asparagus with Mustard Vinaigrette and this refreshing Asparagus, Radish, Mint, and Feta Chopped Salad, which uses many other ingredients in season this month.

Happy shopping and gardening this month! And enjoy all the good eats!

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