We may rely on the salad counter at our corner deli more than we’d like to admit, but if anything can inspire us to dust off our kitchen utensils, it’s all the amazing spring produce that’s taking over our local markets. And while most of these beautiful veggies taste great raw, these simple tips—courtesy of NYC chefs—take them into crazy-delicious territory.

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rainbow carrots greenmarket NY
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Rainbow Carrots
The multicolored heirloom root veggies are packed with antioxidants and even boast different flavors than their standard orange cousins: Purple carrots are sweet and a little peppery, while yellow varieties are especially mild. Also: They make a downright stunning side dish.

How to cook them:
“Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and add some sliced fresh ginger if you have it. Roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, until browned. You can eat them just like that, or drizzle with a blend of Greek yogurt, lemon juice, honey and a touch of water. Add some hazelnuts—toasted in olive oil, sea salt, a touch of black cumin and cayenne pepper to take it over the top.” - Chef Laurence Edelman, Left Bank

ramps greenmarket NY
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These bright green shoots incite a foodie frenzy every spring, and for good reason: They have an addictive onion-meets-garlic flavor and an all too fleeting season.

How to cook them:
"Ramp, egg and cheese: Make ramp butter by puréeing the bulbs with butter, then grill or sauté the leaves. Put everything on a milk roll with a fried or poached egg and cheddar." - Chef Jake Novick-Finder, Gristmill

“They can be simply prepared by seasoning with olive oil, salt and pepper, and cooking them up on your grill. Serve with a steak, piece of fish or chicken and you have an incredible and simple dinner ready to celebrate spring.” - Chef Matt Abdoo, Pig Bleecker

morel mushrooms greenmarket NY
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Don’t be intimidated by this funky-looking fungus: They have a rich, nutty (some even say meaty) flavor that pairs especially well with butter. (Note: Morels should never be eaten raw.) 

How to cook them:
"I love to prepare them simply to preserve their integrity—just sautéed in a pan with some butter. I then deglaze the pan with some sherry vinegar and garnish with chopped chives and a poached egg. It's an amazingly easy to make and tastes like spring." - Chef Antoine Westermann, Le Coq Rico

“Make a Kyoto-style mix of spring veggies (morels, asparagus, spring peas, ramps, spring garlic), sautéed in butter, garlic, sake, and soy sauce, served over a bed of quinoa or brown rice.” - Chef Tim Cushman, O Ya

asparagus greenmarket NY

If you’re a fan of the nubby green spears, get thee to the market ASAP: Locally grown asparagus is just hitting peak season, and it blows the imported stuff (aka what you might find at the grocery store in December) out of the water.

How to cook it:
“Everyone loves spring asparagus, but whatever you do, don’t throw away the woody bottoms that are usually tossed! They’re a great base for homemade dashi, a Japanese broth. First, place kombu (dried kelp) and asparagus stems in a small pot and cover with ice. Heat this up until the ice melts and starts steaming. Then, turn off the heat and add dried bonito flakes and allow this mixture to steam for 45 minutes.” - Chef Chris Jaeckle, Uma Temakeria 

“Cook green asparagus over very high, blistering heat so the stalks caramelize. They can be cooked like this whole or cut crosswise/chopped. The latter preparation can be tossed with spaghetti, garlic, hot pepper flakes, lemon zest and Pecorino cheese.” - Chef Kevin Adey, Faro

fiddlehead ferns greenmarket NY
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Fiddlehead Ferns
These curlicues are divisive as far as veggies go. Some praise their grassy, asparagus-like taste, while others describe them as bitter. Like morels, they should always be cooked. 

How to cook them:
“First, remove any dry and papery skins, then submerge in water and clean off any debris. Drop them in boiling salted water for two minutes, then strain and run them under cold water to stop the cooking. Next, sauté them with crispy pancetta, garlic, shallot, crushed red pepper and morel mushrooms. Once all is heated through, hit the pan with just enough lemon juice to coat everything. Turn off the heat and whisk in a pat of unsalted butter. This spring veggie ‘hash’ is a show stopper when used as a bed for scallops or firm white fish like halibut or sea bass.” - Chef Jon Wallace, Analogue

sugar snap peas greenmarket NY

Sugar Snap Peas
Sure, you can usually find these year-round, but the locally grown fresh ones are even sweeter and, yes, snappier.

How to Cook Them:
“Blanch the freshest snap peas you can find for one minute. Place into a bowl and season to taste with salt and plenty of Olio Verde (or good olive oil will work too). Place the snap peas into a shallow bowl. Grate lemon zest on top, a scattering of freshly picked oregano and then a grating of young Pecorino Toscano.” - Chef Jared Braithwaite, Colonie 

"Sugar snap pea Caesar salad! Thinly slice (or chop) the sugar snap peas vertically—you don’t even need to peel the stem and thread if you slice it super thin. Season the peas with your favorite Caesar salad dressing. For the croutons, brush bread with olive oil, toast in the oven and break into crouton-sized bites to top the salad.” - Chef Nick Licata, Villanelle

watercress greenmarket NY
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This innocuous-looking sprig packs a bold, spicy punch (it’s a member of the mustard family), and the variety in markets now are more delicate and less bitter than its grocery-store counterpart. 

How to prepare it:
“I love mixing pink radicchio, watercress and fennel for a multi-dimensional salad. The radicchio provides the bitterness, the watercress provides the spiciness and the fennel provides the sweet musk. Then, I top the three off with some shaved Parmesan, fresh peas and our house-made citrus vinaigrette, which has a base of lemon, cider vinegar and black pepper.” - Chef Gabriella Mann, Baba Cool

“Blanch spring peas, then toss with avocado, watercress, endive, parsley and lemon-shallot vinaigrette. The peas stick to the creamy avocado, which makes for delicious individual bites. Easy entertaining recipe, too.” - Chef Harold Moore, Harold’s Meat + Three

rhubarb greenmarket NY

The tart, pink-striped stalks are often considered synonymous with summer, but their peak season actually starts in April (and runs through June). 

How to cook it:
“Make simple syrup, subbing in white wine for half of the water (Chardonnay or something dry), add enough cornstarch to thicken. Chop rhubarb and cook in the syrup, then transfer to baking dish to cool. Make a crumble top with brown sugar, butter, flour and cinnamon/pine nuts/almond for flavor, sprinkle over rhubarb mixture and bake until golden.” - Chef Albert Di Meglio, Barano

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