Your Guide to Spring Cooking

I have very little experience with cooking. This is the first time in my life when I’ve a) had the time to cook and b) the space to cook. I’m feeling more confident in the kitchen by the day and Plated has been a huge help. One of the major things it’s taught me beyond just feeling comfortable with different techniques is that it’s taught me the importance of seasonality with ingredients and recipes. We started just at the end of colorful summer and then transitioned into cozy fall and then into hearty winter… and we just started getting boxes based on a fresh spring menu. It makes so much sense and definitely makes meals that much more enjoyable! Louisa is here today to share her amazing tips for spring cooking:

Your Guide to Spring Cooking

Guest post by Living Lou

Spring is finally here and I couldn’t be more excited. As much as I love the comfort foods from the winter, I’m craving fresh salads and dying for some local produce. If you’ve been following along on Living Lou in the past year, you may have noticed that I’ve slightly shifted my cooking style to be more seasonally focused. We’re lucky to have access to fresh produce year-round, and over the years I would eat pretty much everything all the time, but this year I’ve been trying to eat more produce based on the seasonality and availability. This can be kind of challenging in Toronto because we have a short growing season, but if you live somewhere warm like California, eating local produce is much easier (very jealous of those of you in warm climates!). 

So what does this mean “seasonally focused”? Cooking is such a personal thing and a form of self-expression that to me, seasonally focused means a couple of things. First and foremost it means cooking with local, seasonal produce (as much as possible), but it also means cooking the foods my body craves during each season. I love cozy beef stews and cheesy baked pastas in the winter, but in the spring I’m craving lighter fare (nothing revolutionary, but I think it’s worth noting that the food we crave is really impacted with the seasons). Here’s your guide to cooking with the seasons, starting with spring! 

1. Get reacquainted with fruits and vegetables 
Head to the farmer’s market to see what is in-season right now. The farmer’s market can be on the pricier side, so even if you don’t buy anything, it’s a great way to do a bit of “field research” and see what produce is being grown in your area. Spring is the perfect time to start including these ingredients into your meals. Your spring cooking mantra should be fresh and flavourful
What’s in season? Look for artichokes, asparagus, leeks, peas, rhubarb and radishes. You may also find foraged items like ramps and fiddleheads. 
2. Keep it simple 
To me, spring screams for simplicity and rejuvenation, and I find that this tends to weave its way into my cooking. I try and let the produce speak for itself in the spring-time and use minimal ingredients and simple cooking techniques. 
What’s the simplest cooking technique? I always say “when in doubt, roast it.” Roasting is definitely my favorite cooking method because I love the way it caramelizes and brings out a sweetness in many ingredients. Typically, roasting vegetables at a high temperature with a glug of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt is your best bet (around 425F). 
3. Use herbs in everything 
Fresh herbs are one of the secrets of great cooks, and they are one of the first things to pop up after the winter (I already have chives growing in my garden!). Adding a sprinkling of parsley to finish off a fresh pasta dish or ribbons of basil sprinkled on top of a salad is game-changing. Use fresh herbs in everything, trust me. Watch the video below for tips on storing fresh herbs and check out my YouTube channel for more tips

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