Hello May and welcome to month 5 of our Monthly Seasonal Produce Guides!
May means peak spring mode at the market. We are still awash in spring vegetables like asparagus, artichokes, leeks, favas, radishes, carrots, and peas. But now we also welcome fruit, including pineapple and the first berries of the year—strawberries.
Rhubarb is still going strong, and in many places we’ll see it carry through the summer. Rhubarb loves strawberries so use them together in pies and crisps!
Some mushrooms say hello in spring, like wild morels with their distinctive honeycomb texture. You’ll also find maitake mushrooms, a.k.a. “hen of the woods”. Both are delicious sautéed.
The outlier this month is a vegetable I encourage you to try if you see it in your market—cactus paddles. You can find them whole (you usually need to scrape off any remnant stickers) or pre-sliced and bagged in Mexican markets. Cactus paddles (nopalitos) taste like a cross between green beans and okra, with slight citrusy notes, and are anti-inflammatory, low-cal, and full of fiber.
What’s in Season in May?
- Strawberries: Pick up a basketful or two of fresh strawberries and make strawberry shortcake or jam.
- Rhubarb: Rhubarb’s natural tartness brings out the flavor of strawberries, so use them together in pies and crisps. But whatever you do, do not eat rhubarb leaves, they’re poisonous.
- Pineapple: Did you know that pineapples never get any sweeter than they are when they are picked? Check for ripeness by smelling the bottom of the pineapple. If it smells sweet, like pineapple juice, it’s ripe. Toss into a fruit salad, or cook with salmon, chicken, or pork.
- Asparagus: Enjoy them now, while they last! We’ll find asparagus again in the fall, but only those that are shipped up from the Southern Hemisphere.
- Mushrooms: Look for morels with their distinctive honeycomb texture, and maitake “hen of the woods” mushrooms. Both mushrooms are delicious in soup, sautéed with asparagus, or served with eggs or as a side to steak or chicken.
- Carrots: If you find young carrots at the market with a full head of carrot greens, buy them and use the greens for making pesto! Carrot greens taste a lot like parsley and can be used the same way.
- Cactus Paddles: If you like green beans or okra, you’ll love cactus paddles (nopalitos)! Cut them into strips and sauté them with onions and tomatoes.
- Peas: Pair peas with ham in a pasta dish or salad, or simply cook them and serve as a side with a little butter.
- Leeks: Substitute onions with leeks in almost any recipe, or serve them straight, either braised, or boiled and marinated in a vinaigrette.
- Artichokes: Fresh artichokes can be steamed, boiled, sautéed, stuffed, or grilled. They’re happiest in spring, though you will find a second wave of them in the fall.
What are you making with spring vegetables or fruit? Let us know about it in the comments!