5 Seasonal Spring Vegetables to Add to Your Business Lunches

Posted by on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 with Comments Off on 5 Seasonal Spring Vegetables to Add to Your Business Lunches Comments

Seasonal, local, farm-to-fork cuisine: whether you consider it common sense, an overrated trend, or gospel, there’s no denying that many restaurants have embraced the idea of changing their menus depending on what’s available each week at the nearest farmer’s market. Seasonally-driven menus have even infiltrated good, old-fashioned business lunches right in the office, from catering companies to restaurant delivery reflecting the demand for locally-sourced ingredients.

fiddlehead ferns and chicken breast

Fiddlehead ferns may look a little strange, but they’re a hidden gem of spring eating.
Image source: Flickr user John Herschell

While seasonal menus might drive some diners a little stir-crazy in February (please, not another kale salad!), as temperatures warm and variety increases in April and May, they become a downright delight. The only catch is that some of the more locavoracious (yes, that’s now a word) restaurants and catering companies may be featuring some less common vegetables that can leave the less adventurous diners in your office a little… wary.

Ramps are for getting on the freeway, not for eating — and who wants to put something called “stinging nettles” in their mouth, anyway?

With those trepidatious diners in mind, here’s a guide to some of the less common, but unbelievably delicious, spring vegetables you may see cropping up on local menus in the coming weeks; when it comes to food, a little familiarity can go a long way. And if you see these ingredients featured in dishes on your local menus, snap them up — they may be gone before you know it:

It’s true: fiddleheads are a little strange-looking. There’s no way around it… but they taste good, and are amazingly rich in nutrients like vitamins A and C. These curly little veggies are the young, tender shoots that pop up in the middle of ferns in the spring and summer, and are a favorite of chefs who enjoy working with foraged ingredients (as opposed to those cultivated in gardens). Again, they’ll always be served cooked (usually sauteed), and taste a little like asparagus. Unusually for a vegetable, fiddleheads contain omega-3 fatty acids: the same heart-healthy nutrient that makes salmon a favorite among nutritionists.

ramps at farmer's market

Ramps are an early-spring mainstay at farmer’s markets.
Image source: Flickr user Howard Walfish

Ramps are a kind of wild leek: they have small bulbs on one end like onions, and then green stalks like leeks. They taste a little garlicky, and are often one of the first green vegetables to sprout across much of the United States — thus, chefs who have been anxiously awaiting spring’s arrival tend to go a little wild themselves when it comes to ramps.

Rapini and broccoli raab (or rabe) are very close, leafy-green relatives, and the names are often used interchangeably — but in fact, both are kinds of turnips, not broccoli. Rabe is also used as a term that describes the young, tender, flowering buds of a whole host of plants in the brassica family. That means you’ll find all kinds of rapini on menus, including kale rabe, mustard rabe, Brussels sprouts rabe, and even Chinese cabbage rabe. Most restaurants will serve the entire flower, including buds, leaves, and stems, but only after roasting or sauteeing with some olive oil or butter… so even the pickiest eaters will likely find them quite delicious!

miner's lettuce in salad

Miner’s lettuce is often served as a salad green.
Image source: Flickr user Justin Marx

The wild greens known as stinging nettles have truly earned their name: when raw, they’re covered in little, prickly spines that make harvesting them quite difficult, and impossible to eat. Once cooked, however, stinging nettles are absolutely safe and add a really fresh, green flavor to dishes. While their most common use is brewed into a tea, many chefs will saute nettles in olive oil and use them like spinach in all kinds of dishes. Nettles are also surprisingly rich in iron and protein.

Your favorite salad might even get spruced up this spring with another wild green, miner’s lettuce. Mild, tender, and packed full of vitamin C (the green received its name because California gold rush miners ate it to ward off scurvy), this is one of the most commonly found wild greens. Unlike some of the others listed above, miner’s lettuce is usually served raw, either mixed with other salad greens or as a subtle garnish on another dish.

Don’t miss out on the delights of eating seasonally, especially during this fruitful time of year… and don’t limit your business lunches to old standbys like pizza, sandwiches, or bland catering food. With the bounty of menus and options available at Waiter.com, you’ll find plenty of fresh, delicious food to keep your team well-fed and engaged every day!

When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — Waiter.com is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & deliveryWaiter.com offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

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