The green of the many sprouts mixes with the bright red of strawberries: spring is served on the market stalls, thanks to the many fruits and vegetables in season in April. This is the period of borage, dandelion, chicory, leaf lettuce, broad beans, peas, and soon snow peas and green beans: stock up on them and create delicious and detox recipes after binge eating in winter. April also welcomes the elegant and versatile asparagus to cook in a thousand ways, or simply steamed and enjoyed with a drizzle of good olive oil. Strawberries are instead the fruit basket’s stars, ideal for the first spring outings or to enrich delicious desserts.
In-season April veggies: misticanza, asparagus and agretti
Misticanza is the watchword here. A lot of it, with a thousand shades of flavor, to be eaten raw to accompany a simple steamed fish or a slice of toasted bread. In the vegetable gardens you can also find spinach, bitter herbs that can be used to fill rustic pies or added to soups to keep you warm on the last cold evenings (you can also enjoy them warm), or with croutons. Another specialty is the agretti, also known as friar’s beard: cleaning them requires a little patience, but they can be cooked in just a few minutes in boiling water. Depending on the weather, the first fresh broad beans and peas can already be spotted, which, together with spring onions, lettuce and the last artichokes of the year (if you like them, stock up on them now), give life to ‘vignarola’, a Roman plant-based dish, to which crispy pork cheek can be added according to taste. Soon it will be time for snow peas and green beans, but in the meantime you can enjoy asparagus: the one with the egg is a classic match, but they are superb in risottos as well. The asparagus tips pair happily with shrimps.
In-season April veggies: cauliflower and fennel are still here
Asparagus and agretti are delectable side dishes, delicious also in rustic pies, focaccias, omelettes and savory pies. A winning combination is the one with ricotta cheese, a typical spring dairy product which in this period reaches the maximum of its aromatic profile, thanks to the fresh grass on which the cattle graze. Among tender sprouts and fresh salads, there are still cauliflower, radicchio, fennel, thistles... what do you call it? There are no more mid-seasons! It may sound cliché, but it's true: the continuous temperature swings change the rhythm of nature and vegetable gardens are now enriched with the most diverse colors. No harm done for cruciferous vegetables’ lovers, who will be able to enjoy them a little longer.
In-season April fruits: strawberries
The same goes for the fruit sector: oranges, pears and apples are still available, but the real stars are strawberries, among the most awaited produce by fruit lovers. Light, very fresh, juicy, to be enjoyed as is or to be dressed with lemon and sugar (whipped cream for the sweet tooth): strawberries are always flavorsome and ideal for making tasty desserts. For a quick and easy spoon dessert, just cut them in half and alternate them with layers of ricotta cheese whisked with sugar in a glass. One of their best expressions is in the custard tart, without forgetting the whole world of preserves, which will allow spring fruits to be enjoyed even during winter. And, last but not least, the chocolate-dipped strawberries: a great way to repurpose leftovers of Easter eggs.
by Michela Becchi