Spring Picks: 3 Fresh, Local Food Recipes

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Buttermilk panna cotta with cherry compote is simple yet elegant.
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This flavored pea soup takes minutes to prepare.
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Chard stalks can be several colors, including white, red, yellow and orange. Different colored varieties are sometimes bunched together and labeled "rainbow chard."

Finding local produce can be a struggle in winter, especially in northern climates. Throughout the long, cold months, I look forward to the spring opening of our local farmer’s market. Nothing heralds spring’s arrival quite like the first taste of fresh fruits and veggies.

The following recipes take advantage of my favorite spring crops: peas, Swiss chard and cherries. Quick and simple, these dishes showcase local produce with simple preparations, giving you more time to get out into the garden or just enjoy the spring weather. To find a farmer’s market, community-supported agriculture (CSA) program or co-op near you, visit Local Harvest

Rainbow Swiss Chard with Toasted Garlic 

Swiss chard is abundant in most gardens (and markets) from June through August.

Pea Soup 

For best quality, cook peas immediately after they’ve been picked. If you don’t have a vegetable garden, look for peas at your farmer’s market. They’ll make all the difference in this simple spring soup. To freeze fresh peas, shell them, then blanch for one to two minutes in boiling water. Drain peas and put immediately into ice water. Drain again and store in sealed containers in the freezer.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Cherry Compote 

Look for deep red cherries with green, flexible stems.

Healthy bites

Swiss Chard: Excellent source of vitamins K, A, C and E, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron and dietary fiber; promotes bone, eye and lung health; may prevent colon and other digestive tract cancers
Peas: Good source of several vitamins and minerals, dietary fiber and protein; promote bone and heart health; help fight all forms of cancer; increase energy and well-being
Cherries: Good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber and potassium; promote heart health; contain antioxidants that can reduce risk of hypertension, cancer, inflammation and Alzheimer’s disease

Pieter Dijkstra is chef de cuisine at Boulder, Colorado, catering company A Spice of Life.

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