Jessica Prentice, Maggie Gosselin, and Sarah Klein created the Local Foods Wheel to help us all enjoy the freshest, tastiest, and most ecologically sound food choices month by month. Here are Jessica’s seven best bets for the spring season. You can learn more about the Local Foods Wheel and the group’s other ventures at localfoodswheel.com
Nettles: The spring tonic par excellence! Make into a soup or pesto (puréeing deactivates the sting), or a frittata with feta cheese; or boil in water and drink the liquid as a tea. Look for them from County Line Farm, La Tercera, or Four Sisters Farm at Berkeley Farmers’ Markets, or grow them yourself (Spiral Gardens in South Berkeley has starts) in an easy-to-water, out-of-the-way patch where unsuspecting passersby won’t be stung.
Asparagus: Committed locavores eat asparagus in spring until they are sick of it, then don’t eat it again until it returns the following year.
Pastured eggs: Woe to the egg-lover in late autumn and winter, but now rejoice! The days are getting longer and the hens are laying again . . . Make some hollandaise for those asparagus spears.
Rhubarb: Contrary to popular belief, rhubarb doesn’t need strawberries to taste good. Try making a plain old rhubarb pie. Or better yet, branch out and try a Persian lamb and rhubarb stew!
Garlic Scapes: Not enough farmers are offering these delectable stems of the garlic plant. Go bug your favorite farmers (especially those who grow garlic) and tell them to harvest the scapes and bring them to market. Then buy them and eat them sautéed with butter, salt, and pepper, or add them to stir-fries or soup, or use your imagination!
Fresh Fava Beans: I know, I know—they’re so much work! But here’s the thing: they’re worth it. Buy at least one bag this spring and instead of meeting a friend for coffee, invite the friend to your house and sit together, shelling and peeling, while you catch up. Then sauté the beans in olive oil, heap them on toast, and enjoy them together.
Kumquats: Eat them whole, skin and all—don’t make a fool of yourself like I did the first time I was offered these and tried to peel them like tiny oranges. Just bite in and enjoy! Also great sliced thin and added to salads.
Jessica Prentice is the author of Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection and co-founder of Three Stone Hearth Community Supported Kitchen in Berkeley. threestonehearth.com
Line drawings by Sarah Klein (sarahklein.com) with coloring by Maggie Gosselin