Spring is here and summer is around the corner which means farms are bursting with fresh, delicious, colorful and vibrant produce — perfect to work into your spring repertoire. All of this colorful good stuff can be enticing, but if you’ve ever returned from the market with armloads of beautiful vegetables and realized you don’t have “anything to eat,” these five items make all the difference.
A well-stocked pantry helps you prepare healthy, flavorful meals in a snap with all of those beautiful greens, beans, herbs, radishes, carrots, ramps, onions and early berries. Here are five mainstays to always have on hand so you can pull together produce-centric meals in a pinch.
Having a few lemons on hand means you’re always ready to slice one in half and quickly dress a salad of fresh spring greens and herbs. Liven up a homemade pesto made with fresh herbs and toasted nuts with the juice of a lemon. A squeeze of lemon juice over fresh carrots and radishes served as crudités brings out all of the seasonal sweetness of these little vegetables — and it’s a great finishing touch to any grain dish, dip or dressing. Not to mention lemon zest is an exceptionally vibrant way to finish off salads, add flavor to roasted veggies or brighten up a glass of seltzer water or a bowl of early spring berries with yogurt.
READ MORE > YOUR GUIDE TO A DELICIOUS DIY VINAIGRETTE
2. GOOD OLIVE OIL
The basic rules of olive oil are: the less refined the olive oil, the better; and the higher quality the olive oil, the more unique the flavor is. Similar to having lemons on hand, a great olive oil means you’re always ready to dress a salad, make a dip or pesto or finish freshly roasted or grilled vegetables. This homemade Carrot Butter requires olive oil, as do most spreads. A simple drizzle of olive oil makes spring carrots, fava beans, Brussels sprouts, artichokes, asparagus and radishes ready to roast or grill.
A healthy and inexpensive source of protein, eggs are perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner in a pinch. Sauté greens and make a bright shakshuka, turn ramps or spring onions into a brunch frittata or crack an egg over grilled vegetables with crusty bread. Plus, adding eggs to crusty leftover bread and savory vegetables and herbs makes for a tasty savory bread pudding!
READ MORE > PUT AN EGG ON IT AND YOU’VE GOT DINNER
4. A VARIETY OF WHOLE GRAINS
Most any whole-grain can go from being simple to spectacular with the addition of fresh produce. Rice, polenta, farro, oats — the sky’s the limit! Cook grains according to package directions and use them as a canvas for all of those lovely veggies! Roasted mushrooms brighten basic steamed farro, especially when you add a drizzle of lemon juice and olive oil you already have in the pantry.
5. A GREAT LOAF OF BREAD
That great loaf of bread isn’t just for delicious morning toast. Or maybe it is … if you’re sautéing greens to serve over toast and eggs. Serve crusty bread alongside dinner-sized salads, soak up soups made of spring carrots and greens or crumbled up to make savory bread pudding with eggs, leeks or spring potatoes. Day-old bread crumbled into bits, then toasted and pulsed in a food processor becomes a quick topping for gratin potatoes, greens or carrots — and you could even use the breadcrumbs as a nice textural contrast to finish just about any grilled veggies you can dream up!