Use this spring veggie eating guide to …

  1. Choose what to cook according to your time frame.
  2. Gain confidence in your cooking.
  3. Truly enjoy food that’s not only good for you but tastes incredible too.

The most simple way to eat a veggie is to enjoy it raw and unadorned. Dan and I enjoy the crunch of a carrot, the sweetness of a spinach leaf, and the spicy bite of a fresh radish.

Dan enjoying a freshly harvested carrot

Julie enjoying raw spinach

raw radish being washed

But other times, we like to combine our greens with complementary flavors–herbs, salt, vinegar, citrus, olive oil–or roast our root veggies to bring out their hidden sweetness. Cheeses and fats–used sparingly–can transform the humble vegetable into a culinary delight.

roasted carrots and greens California rolls with radishes and greens    

I’ve made the rest of this guide specifically without photos so you can easily print it and post it on your fridge for your go-to during the week.

Arugula and Asian Greens: 

  • Eat in 5 minutes: Squeeze fresh lemon juice over a bowl of arugula and/or Asian greens and make sure each leaf is coated in juice. Sprinkle flaky sea salt (like Maldon sea salt), a grind of black pepper, and a drizzle of good olive oil over the leaves. Adjust seasonings to taste. Enjoy!
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Rough chop arugula. Toss with hot pasta, olive oil, freshly grated Parmesan or Manchego cheese, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Eat in one hour: Marinated Baked Rotini with Fresh Spinach and Arugula

Asparagus: Best cooked. Goes well with garlic and an acid such as lemon, red wine vinegar, or white wine vinegar. 

Beets: 

  • Eat in 5 minutes: Grate raw beet over a bed of greens. Toss lightly with your favorite vinaigrette, chopped chives or scallions, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Simple Steamed Beets
  • Eat in 45 minutes: Preheat your baking sheet in the oven at 400 F. Cut the beets into 1.5″ chunks. Toss with a little bit of olive oil and salt. Roast 35-40 minutes, turning every 15 minutes.
  • Eat dessert: Gluten-Free Apple, Beet, and Date Crisp

Broccoli: 

  • Eat right now: Freshly harvested broccoli (as opposed to broccoli that’s been harvested, shipped, and sitting at the grocery store) should at least be tried once raw–so delicious and tender!
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Cut your broccoli into similarly sized pieces. Steam 5-6 minutes. If you don’t have a steamer, boil in an inch or so of water for 3-4 minutes–or less. Check frequently as the size of your broccoli pieces affect how long it takes to cook. Don’t overcook. There’s nothing worse than mushy broccoli! Toss steamed broccoli with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Carrots: Try different flavor combinations to explore this incredibly versatile veggie (sesame oil + soy sauce + fresh ginger + garlic + toasted sesame seeds + chives / butter + honey + thyme + lemon zest + fresh lemon juice).

  • Eat right now: No brainer–raw of course! Sweet, freshly harvested carrots grown in cool seasons are the perfect quick snack.
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Cut into coins. Saute in hot fat of your choice (butter, olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil). Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss with fresh chopped herbs of your choice. Enjoy!
  • Eat in one hour: Roasted Carrots and Greens
  • Eat from the crockpot: Carrots are a classic companion to a crockpot roast.

Cauliflower: Pairs well with mustard, horseradish, garlic, lemon, green olives, scallions, chives, or parsley. Excellent in curries.

  • Eat right now: I LOVE fresh raw cauliflower. If that’s a bit much for you, dip it in your favorite dressing.
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Cut your cauliflower into similarly sized pieces. Steam 5-6 minutes. If you don’t have a steamer, boil in an inch or so of water for 3-4 minutes–or less. Don’t overcook. Sprinkle with a flaky salt and freshly ground pepper. Eat just like that, or to mix it up, toss with fresh greens, your favorite vinaigrette, goat cheese, and toasted caraway seeds.
  • Eat in 30 minutes: Preheat your baking sheet in the oven to 425 F. Cut the cauliflower into similarly sized pieces. Toss with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and chopped garlic. Roast 15-20 minutes, turning half way through. You want the cauliflower to be toasty brown, so roast longer if needed.

Chives: Prep tip–snip with a scissors instead of chopping with a knife.

  • Eat right now: Sprinkle chives onto your salad, and–while you’re at it–a piece of buttered, lightly salted toast.
  • Eat in 10 minutes: Incorporate chives into an omelette or scrambled eggs.
  • Eat in 45 minutes: Use chives as a topping for a savory soup or baked potato bar.

Fennel: 

  • Eat in 10 minutes: Rough chop the fronds and/or thinly slice the fennel bulb. Toss them in a green salad topped with orange zest and dressed in freshly squeezed orange juice, olive oil, salt, and freshly ground pepper.
  • Drink in 10 minutes: Take a handful of fennel greens and squeeze them in your hand (this helps release their flavors). Put the greens in a tea pot, cover with boiling water, and let steep for at least 10 minutes. Add honey. Enjoy a cup a of fennel tea!
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Set your grill to medium-high heat. Slice fennel bulbs lengthwise into 1/2″ thick slices. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle on kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Grill until lightly charred, about 4 minutes on each side.

Head lettuce: 

Kale, full-sized: 

  • Eat right now: We eat raw full-sized kale all the time. When the kids say they’re hungry, and it’s not a snack or meal time, we tell them they can grab kale or a carrot, and they do. If you’re not used to eating raw kale, remember that it can take 15-20 tries of something before your palate adjusts–so be patient with yourself!
  • Eat in 30 minutes: Sausage, kale, potato soup made with chicken broth and a touch of cream at the end is one of the Perkins’ family favorites. Chopped kale can be thrown into other soups too–maybe you can even make up your own recipe!
  • Eat in 45 minutes: Kale chips of course! Preheat your oven to 275 F with the baking sheet in the oven (I use two baking sheets for a snack for 6 people). Strip the kale from the stems, then cut or tear into uniform pieces between 1.5-2″. Toss with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and freshly ground pepper, then lay the pieces on the hot baking sheet, making sure they don’t touch. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the leaves, and bake for another 10 minutes. Once the kale chips are crisp, they’re ready to go, so bake longer if needed. 

Oregano:

  • Eat right now: Chop and add to a fresh green salad.
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Add chopped oregano to garlic bread. Chop the oregano–along with rosemary and chives or green onions if available–and mix with chopped garlic and melted butter. Brush on top of crusty sliced bread, then bake or broil until brown.
  • Eat in 1 hour: Use chopped oregano in a tomato sauce or add to chili.

Salad greens: Unlike the heartier salad spinach and salad kale, salad greens are the most tender of greens. Dress gently with your hands–and don’t overdress or you’ll end up with a soggy salad. 

  • Eat in 5 minutes: Squeeze fresh lemon juice over a bowl of salad greens and make sure each leaf is coated in juice. Sprinkle flaky sea salt (like Maldon sea salt), a grind of black pepper, and a drizzle of good olive oil over the leaves. Adjust seasonings to taste. (This is the same suggestion I gave for arugula and Asian greens, but those spicier greens are so different than baby salad greens that you end up with a different dish.)
  • Eat in 15 minutes: This fall salad– Watermelon Radish, Carrot, and Manchego Salad with Fresh Greens –calls for watermelon radish, but you can replace that with salad radish and there you have it–a spring salad! 
  • Eat in 30-45 minutes: Use salad greens as a base for curries, fried rice, or stir fry. Eat immediately as the heat will wilt the greens–delicious if eaten right away.

Salad kale: What’s the difference between salad kale and full-sized kale? Salad kale–harvested when small–is much more tender, so it works beautifully in any salad. However, you can still use salad kale in places where salad greens don’t work as well because of their flavor and texture, like in a green smoothie or soup.

  • Eat in 5 minutes: Saute chopped garlic for 1-2 minutes. Meanwhile, squeeze fresh lemon juice over a bowl of salad kale and make sure each leaf is coated in juice. Sprinkle flaky sea salt (like Maldon sea salt), a grind of black pepper, and a drizzle of good olive oil over the leaves. Toss with the sauteed garlic. Adjust seasonings to taste. 
  • Drink in 5 minutes: Use in a green smoothie.
  • Eat in 20 minutes: Enjoy with spaghetti and red sauce, cacio e pepe, or other pasta dishes. Make a bed of salad kale on your plate, then put the pasta/sauce right on top. 

Salad radish: 

  • Eat in 5 minutes: Place thinly sliced radishes on top of buttered bread. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt. If you’re feeling adventurous, top with your choice of greens and/or fresh, chopped herbs.
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Use as ingredient in your very own Buddha bowl!
  • Eat in 30 minutes: Try in California Rolls with Radishes and Greens.

Salad spinach: 

  • Eat right now: Spinach is one of our go-to greens for the green smoothie. I also love a bowl of raw spinach as a snack.
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Spinach is so versatile it can be used in almost any salad, but I think it works especially well in this Strawberry Rhubarb Spinach Side Salad.
  • Eat in one hour: These Spinach Bites take a little more work, but they’re super tasty and fun for an appetizer or snack.

Scallions (Green Onions): Scallions, like chives, work well as a topping for pretty much any savory dish. They pair well with fresh herbs, butter and olive oil, and cheeses like cheddar, Gruyere, and blue cheese.

  • Eat right now: Chop and sprinkle onto your salad, buttered toast, or any savory dish you’ve already prepared.
  • Eat in 10 minutes: Add to scrambled eggs or an omelette.

Sweet turnips: Sweet turnips pair well with fresh herbs like thyme, lemon thyme, rosemary, and cheeses such as Gruyere, Gorgonzola, aged Gouda, and sharp cheddar. 

  • Eat right now: Thinly slice. Sprinkle with finishing salt (like Maldon sea salt) and eat immediately. If you wait too longer after salting, the turnips lose their crispiness.
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Slice and saute in hot butter, ghee, or olive oil. Add chopped garlic and/or chopped greens during the final 1-2 minutes of cooking. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Eat in 45 minutes: Roasted Sweet Turnips with Thyme.

Thyme:

  • Eat in 5 minutes: Toss thyme leaves with your salad greens/salad kale/salad spinach. If the stems are fresh and tender, chop the stems along with leaves. If the stems are stiff and strong, slide your fingers down the stem to remove the leaves. Use the leaves and discard the stem.
  • Drink in 10 minutes: Put a few sprigs of thyme into a tea pot, cover with boiling water, and let steep for at least 10 minutes. Add honey and fresh lemon juice to taste. Enjoy a cup a of thyme tea!
  • Eat in an hour: Simmer in your pizza or red sauce for added flavor.
  • Eat sometime in the future: Add whole sprigs of thyme to vegetable, chicken, or beef stock. 

What are your favorite ways to eat spring veggies and greens? Share in the comments!

6 Comments

  1. Laura VanderMeer on April 18, 2020 at 12:04 pm

    This post is amazing! Thanks for all the wonderful ideas!!!

  2. Michelle Summers on April 23, 2020 at 9:46 pm

    I agree with Laura, this is AMAZING!!!
    Very well done. Thank you so much for going thru all the trouble to put this together.
    It is very helpful!! 🙂

    • Julie Oudman Perkins on April 24, 2020 at 11:01 am

      Thank you, Michelle! I’m looking forward to hearing which ones you like best! 🙂

    • Kate McKenna on May 13, 2020 at 12:19 pm

      This was so helpful! Thank you Julie!!

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