March always feels like it's the start of Spring to me. There are tons of great "spring" vegetables and greens in the market (asparagus, anyone?!) I generally feel like I just need all the greens I can get my hands on (and start planting for the summer!) So this March produce guide is all about those seasonal vegetables, when you should consider buying them organic, and what you can cook with them, so let's jump in!
The spring palette starts to get fresh and vibrant. You'll start seeing a lot more salads and grilled vegetables in preparation for better weather and sunshine!
I love asparagus, but it is one of the the worst offenders for carbon emissions. Most asparagus we consume in the US is flown in from Latin America. So, average greenhouse gas emissions for asparagus is nearly 8x that of avocados.
When possible, buy asparagus ONLY when it's in season! Oh, and if you're wondering whether you can eat asparagus raw, you absolutely can! Though, when cooked, it does have more of the cancer-fighting antioxidants. You'd be pleased to know that studies have shown that asparagus has enzymes that help break down a common pesticide called malathion, so cook them up in Spring!
Organic Meter: 🚫
Though asparagus doesn't have an exterior shell or husk, it seems to repel pesticides quite well. Studies have shown minimal residue on asparagus, so you can skip the organic on this one.
- Simple microwave asparagus recipe: Listen, roasted asparagus tastes great, but it's hard to beat a 10 minute recipe when you need some greens in your life!
- Delicious asparagus and spring pea pasta from Cookie & Kate: This is an awesome spring recipe that's super fresh and vibrant, and makes for a great weeknight dinner!
- Vegan ricotta and asparagus tart from Crowded Kitchen: Just look at the colors on this dish - super delicious, all vegan and a great way to do something fun!
My favorite vegetable is back in season! The great thing about avocado is that it's almost always in season thanks to perfectly complementary growing seasons in Mexico and California, two of the largest avocado producers (from November to April, then May to August). However, March is when you start seeing an influx of Haas avocados, my favorite kind. So you can go ahead and purchase avocados other times of the year if you wish!
One quick tip for buying avocado - don't buy the prepackaged versions. They might all ripen on the same day and leave you with nothing for the rest of the week. Pick individual avocados that are at varying stages of ripeness so you have some for the whole week.
Organic Meter: 🚫
Avocado often makes it to EWG's "Clean" list and for good reason - studies often show very limited presence of pesticides on avocados, so you can skip the organic here as well and just reach for the traditional ones!
- Six unique avocado toasts from around the world: From Caprese toast to a loaded Mexican inspired avocado toast, to a fun Korean gochujang cauliflower toast, avocado toasts are one of my favorite ways of consuming avocados when they're in season.
- Avocado pickles: This is a newfound favorite, but holy moly, have you ever pickled avocados? This works best with ripe but firm avocados, and tastes amazing on almost anything you put them on - tacos, sandwiches, as a snack - you name it.
- Avocado fries: I love making avocado fries in my air-fryer or oven. My recipe is vegan, and can easily be made gluten-free and makes for the perfect crunchy snack! Make sure to drop those fries into this delicious vegan fried avocado taco with refried beans and a creamy poblano sauce!
Steamed broccoli is out, and roasted broccoli is in. There really is nothing quite like oven roasted broccoli, so much that I often just eat it as such. But I also love using it in soups, fried rice, and so many other dishes once roasted!
Organic Meter: 🚫
Brussels Sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli all have hardy outer protection that ward off most pests. Hence, it is acceptable to buy inorganic broccoli. Look for ones without brown spots!
- Simple roasted garlic broccoli: Take the florets apart, toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then roast in the oven at 425F, evenly spaced, for 20 minutes or so. Turn them over once halfway through, and you're all set.
- Quick leftovers fried rice: If you have day-old rice, this is the best way to use that up along with a bunch of fresh (or frozen) vegetables including broccoli. The secret spice ingredient in my recipe? Turmeric! Read on to find out more.
- Vegan broccoli soup: Cruciferous vegetables make for excellent soups. This broccoli soup from Love & Lemons is no exception.
Growing up, I didn't really eat Brussels Sprouts. But then, I moved to the US, and one day, a friend made some Brussels roasted with olive oil, garlic and sea salt. My life was changed. Now, I add Brussels Sprouts to everything I can, so I'm glad that they're still in season. Most recent addiction below, a green shakshuka with Brussels sprouts and tomatillos.
Organic Meter: 🚫
Brussels Sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli all have hardy outer protection that ward off most pests. The most common pest varieties (e.g. diamondback moths, cabbage loopers and maggots) are often managed biologically. Therefore, it is okay to buy inorganic!
- Super Simple Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts: This is a go-to recipe at home. Remove the edges, and roast with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Delish!
- Vegan Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad: Delicious shredded Brussels sprouts with roasted chickpeas and a vegan Caesar dressing made with tahini, garlic and soy sauce (you can use tamari as well). Super simple, and absolutely delicious.
- Green Shakshuka: Power-green packed breakfast (or breakfast for dinner!) dish with shredded Brussels sprouts, tomatillos and spinach for a delicious but easy meal.
Cabbage continues to be an underdog in this lineup of vegetables, but oh man, it's so versatile. You've probably already seen my Ethiopian cabbage recipe, but a new favorite in the household is this Korean Gilgeori toast recipe. So easy and so delicious!
Organic Meter: 🚫
Brussels Sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli all have hardy outer protection that ward off most pests. The most common pest varieties (e.g. diamondback moths, cabbage loopers and maggots) are often managed biologically. Therefore, it is okay to buy inorganic, but make sure to remove the outer leaves of the cabbage!
- Korean Gilgeori Toast: This is a Korean street food toast that makes for an excellent, healthy-ish breakfast sandwich. It's basically an egg omelet (or vegan egg omelet) with cabbage, carrots, spring onions and some seasoning. I also use a gochujang-mayonnaise aioli to add an extra element of creaminess.
- Atakilt Wat: This Ethiopian cabbage dish is a household staple, and super simple to make. It has cabbage, carrots and potatoes and is simply spiced with turmeric. Super hearty and vegan, and a delicious new dish to try for a quick dinner. Check out the video here too: Ethiopian Cabbage on Youtube!
- Asian Slaw: This slaw reminds me of summer - it's made with two different types of cabbage and a peanut butter and sesame dressing that's so refreshing! Perfect accompaniment to any meal (especially heavy winter ones).
Someone called the cauliflower a fluffy vegan cloud and I couldn't agree more. Looking for a low-carb alternative? Cauliflower rice. Do you want a delicious vegan taco? Just try my fan-favorite spicy gochujang cauliflower taco. Seriously, the options are endless!
Organic Meter: 🚫
Starting to sound like a broken record here, but cauliflower, like other cruciferous vegetables has hardy outer protection to ward off most pests. The most common pest varieties (e.g. diamondback moths, cabbage loopers and maggots) are often managed biologically. Therefore, it is okay to buy inorganic!
- Korean Cauliflower Tacos: If you've been around this blog, you know that I love these Korean gochujang marinated cauliflower tacos. Top them with some avocados and red onions (or even pickled avocados and pickled onions, yum). Perfect for Taco Tuesday!
- Mumbai Pav Bhaji: Okay, this is probably not what you had in mind for cauliflower, but it's such an integral part of the texture of this awesome Indian street food favorite! I love making pav bhaji at home when I need to use up a bunch of vegetables and don't have the patience to look up something specific for each one.
- Cauliflower Rice: For folks who are trying to cut out polished grains, cauliflower rice is a good way to have a filling carb without adding on calories. Check out this cauliflower rice guide from Minimalist Baker to get started with this!
Citrus fruits like lemon, lime, tangerine, grapefruits and oranges are some of my favorite fruits for a number of reasons. From baking to juicing and making vinaigrettes, these fruits are so versatile!
Organic Meter: 🚫 / 🟢
This one is a toss-up. Conventional citrus is sprayed with fungicides, pesticides and herbicides. But luckily, most of this ends up on the peel. So, get organic if you can (especially if plan to use the peel) but inorganic works okay otherwise.
- Mandarin Cake: This used to be a caramel, upside-down mandarin cake with a cocoa base. However, my sweet palette has changed a bit over time, so I am updating the recipe to make it a cardamom-mandarin cake and boy, it's blown me away. Stay tuned!
- Grapefruit / Citrus Fruit Vinaigrette: Here's the thing, vinaigrette is super easy to make: 1 tablespoon of acid or vinegar for 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Use citrus juice to make a killer citrus vinaigrette!
- Citrus Salad with Arugula and Ricotta Salata: I've had this a couple of times now and I absolutely love how fresh and delightful this salad is. Comes together in no time too!
This is my favorite by far on this list because spring really means that all the greens are in season. The good news is that some of the heartier greens like kale and collard greens are still around because of the nippiness, but they're starting to make room for spinach and lettuce. So, salad, stir fry, and stew season is officially here!
Organic Meter: 🟢
This depends to some degree on the specific green, but I'm going out on a limb to say, you should probably just get organic greens. Spinach is often one of the worst offenders when it comes to pesticide residues, as is lettuce.
- Spinach Avocado Salad: This uses two of my favorite ingredients in season, along with a simple lemon vinaigrette. Toss some cotija cheese if you're not vegan, and you're done!
- Creamed Spinach, aka Spinach Maria: My creamed spinach is a bit different than the traditional ones in that it's a bit spicy, and it's very cheesy. Check out the recipe!
- Vegan Efo Riro: If you're looking for a fun way to use up greens, I suggest making this delicious Nigerian spinach stew with a tangy red pepper base. This is a staple in our household and has been sister-in-law approved!
I'm going to cheat a bit here because all kinds of onions - sweet onions, spring onions, red onions, are all starting to show up in season. One of my favorite ways to eat onions is to simple roast them in the oven and then add them to everything! Check out my easy roasted red onions recipe!
Check out this handy infographic for information on using different types of onions, and then go ahead and make all the delicious recipes with it.
Organic Meter: 🚫
Onions can be bought inorganic (just wash them before using). This is because of the strong smell they emit to naturally keeps pests away, so no need for chemicals!
- Sweet & Spicy Pickled Onions: I started pickling vegetables in the height of driving myself insane at home last year, and I couldn't be happier that I picked up this habit.
- Nigerian Jollof: I know this is cheating a bit because jollof features red peppers and tomatoes as much as onions, but it's really one of my favorite (and most oft-used) ways of cooking onions.
- The best tomato, onion sauce: This is Marcella Hazan's amazing four ingredient tomato sauce that used to be a staple at my house for the longest time. And honestly, everyone needs a base tomato sauce that they love!
Did you know that my friends call me Shrooms, as in short for Shruthi, but also probably because I am absolutely, 150% in love with mushrooms? I literally throw them into all my pasta recipes even when they have no business there, and sometimes like roasting them and just snacking on them on the sly.
Organic Meter: 🚫
You can skip the organic for this one too. Mushrooms are typically grown under controlled indoor conditions (or foraged for in the wild) and in both those cases, you really don't have to worry much about chemical residues!
- Creamy leek and mushroom pasta: I love making this pasta to feature two spring ingredients - leeks and mushrooms. It takes about 40 minutes to whip together, and it's great for a quick weeknight dinner. Sauté the leeks and mushrooms and then remove them before cooking the pasta or you can cook the pasta separately!
- Pan fried oyster mushrooms: I think oyster mushrooms (and Chanterelles) are my favorite types of mushrooms, and this simple recipe tells you how to brown those delicious mushrooms without getting them soggy. But the key is in two things - first, cook them up without seasoning (salt draws out water) and next, make sure you're not stirring them too often while you cook them.
- Easy Portabella mushroom stir-fry: This easy recipe uses a simple balsamic glaze and comes together in 30 minutes and it's a great weeknight meal as well!
Peas are such an underrated vegetable! I love adding them to a range of dishes, and they're a great sweet complement to more hearty vegetables like potatoes and carrots. For instance, I add peas to my air-fryer samosa recipe, as well as to my kitchari recipe.
Organic Meter: 🟢
Peas are a really interesting vegetable because you can go totally conventional if you're buying frozen peas, so for half the year you're fine. However, for fresh snap peas - high pesticide residue means it's better to go organic.
- Pea shoot pesto: If you haven't made pesto with pea shoots, you're missing out. Oh, you can also make pesto with actual spring peas too!
- Spring quinoa salad from Pinch of Yum: Honestly, this is such an easy dish but so vibrant and fresh you'll want to eat it with everything!
- Spring pea and goat cheese risotto: We've had a lot of pasta, so let's switch it up with risotto, amirite?
I'll admit, I wasn't a big fan of radish until I discovered that they basically taste like potatoes when you roast them. Seriously, wow, what a difference! So, there's two types of radishes - you have the traditional red kind, and then there's a yellow daikon (or Korean radish). The former has a more peppery flavor, while the latter is sweeter.
Organic Meter: 🚫
Radishes, at least the red kind, are used as a natural pesticide because of how peppery they are! This is driven by compounds called isothiocyanates, which repel pests. Daikon radishes are a bit more neutral, but you can typically go inorganic.
- Simple oven roasted or air fryer radish: Basically, slice off the edges, cut them in halves, and then roast them after drizzling with olive oil, salt, and pepper. 425F for about 30 minutes should get them all toasty. Phenomenal.
- Radish in a spinach avocado salad: I love adding radish to my spinach avocado salad since I find that the peppery taste pairs so well with the creaminess of the the avocado!
- Pickled daikon radishes: Spring time means it's pickle time in our household. And pickled radishes go great with so many things it's hard to not like them!
- Spicy Korean radish salad from Korean Bapsang: This is such a flavor explosion, just leave the fish sauce out for a delicious side salad that goes great with all hearty mains!
Check out the February produce guide and the April produce guide to get a sense of how these vegetables change through the season. For other seasonal produce guides, check out my collection of seasonal produce guides!