We start with the best of intentions. We read food magazines and flip through cookbooks. We make a menu plan for the week, built around seasonal dinners and healthy brown bag lunches. We stock our pantry, and we head out for the farmers' market . . . only to discover that the onions aren't quite ready, and harlequin beetles got the kale, and the strawberries are tempting us, and tender lettuces have one more week so we better enjoy them, and there are the most gorgeous and unexpected bunches of asparagus . . . and suddenly our best laid plans seem like a distant dream. Never fear--we are here to help! Armed with our cheat sheet and a willingness to be flexible, your recipes--and your weekly menu plan--will be happier than ever.
Interested in a hands-on opportunity to learn how to be more flexible? Join The Happy Kitchen for a Celebrate the Local Box with Greenling cooking class focused on the seasonal and the unexpected! More details and register here »
Scroll down for a tabouli recipe, made seasonal for spring with beets and radishes standing in for the traditional summery tomato and cucumber.
FRUIT & VEGETABLE SUBSTITUTES:
Cooking seasonally means being ready to interchange ingredients for what's available seasonally. For example, if you have Swiss chard on hand, but your recipe calls for spinach, Swiss chard makes a great substitute! Keep in mind that some of the ingredients in each category may differ in moisture content, texture, and flavor, so be ready to tweak your recipe slightly as you go. The following groups can usually be interchanged successfully within recipes.
- Tender greens (roast, steam, saute, stir-fry, eat raw): chard, spinach, sorrel, lettuce, arugula
- Hearty greens (braise, saute, stir fry, oven roast): collards, kale, Brussels sprouts greens, cabbage
- Hearty root vegetables (roast, mash, steam, saute): potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets
- Brassicas (roast, saute, steam, stir-fry, eat raw in salads): cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts
- Alliums (saute, stir-fry, caramelize, roast, saute, eat raw): onions, garlic, leeks, shallots
- Crunchy crudites (eat raw): cucumber, radish, beet, carrot
- Berries (bake, eat raw): strawberries, blueberries, blackberries
- Soft fruit (bake, roast, grill, braise, eat raw): peaches, plums, figs, persimmons, melon
- Crunchy fruit (bake, roast, grill, braise, eat raw): pears, apples