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Cooking for One: Spring Produce

There’s nothing greater than watching dreary winter turn into lush spring. Green is the word everywhere you turn, from the leaves on the trees to the asparagus in the garden. Pops of color explode around you from purple tulips to ripe, red strawberries. In case it’s not obvious, I love spring and a big part of that love is the fresh produce available this time of year. As with many of the other articles I’ve written here, with the help of my local Whole Foods Market, I’ve been able to come up with many ways to cook for one using fresh, seasonal produce and a little bit of creativity. Love asparagus but don’t want to buy a full bunch of it for just yourself? I often find that I can buy asparagus by the spear in my store’s stir-fry veggie bar. Many types of loose produce are sold here and I can buy what I need by the pound. In addition, I can usually find loose baby spinach with bulk greens in produce or on the salad bar. Roasting asparagus (see this great article about how-to) and topping with a poached egg, or sautéing some spinach and pairing with artichokes and white bean spread (check your antipasti bar for some great spread options) on a slice of good, crusty whole grain bread makes a healthy and filling meal any time of day. One of my favorite spring vegetables is the leek. Although leeks are difficult in cooking for one, try buying just one stalk, cleaning and slicing (read this for a good how-to) and storing for use throughout the week as an addition to an omelet or in a stir-fry with buttery morel mushrooms topped with some shrimp or scallops. Speaking of morels, don’t be afraid of the price by the pound when you’re shopping. You can often buy fresh morels by the piece and need only a few to add the savory richness to any spring dish. And of course, don’t forget the artichokes. When cooking for one, there’s no better way to eat a fresh artichoke than trimming it, steaming it (30-45 minutes depending on the size) and dipping the leaves in fresh lemon juice and a little melted butter or homemade vinaigrette. Just one can make a satisfying meal by itself. What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy spring produce when cooking for one? Share your thoughts in the comments section.