As the head of culinary at Plated, I'm always looking for the freshest, most in-season ingredients to include in my recipes and weekly menus. Eating with the seasons--that is, eating winter squashes and root vegetables in the winter and berries and melons in the summer--isn't just a trend, it's a movement.
Here are four reasons why eating seasonally will let you enjoy better quality, tastier ingredients, and inspire you to give a second look to oft-overlooked foods that have a lot to offer.
1. You Won't Get Stuck In a Food Rut
If you find yourself coming back from the supermarket with the same pile of fruits and vegetables every week, it's a good time to change things up. When you stick to fruits and vegetables that are in season, you start to look forward to the new items that arrive fresh from the farm. Take fiddleheads: The tightly coiled green fern fronds only stick around for about a month each spring--and their limited showing makes them a farmer's market mini-celebrity when they arrive. Ramps, fava beans, and morel mushrooms all share similarly short shelf lives.
2. You'll Never Bite Into a Mealy Tomato Again
Is there anything worse than ordering a caprese salad at a restaurant only to take a bite of creamy mozzarella and a watery, tasteless tomato slice? At Plated, the biggest reason we develop recipes around seasonal produce is that you can't fake the flavor and texture of freshly harvested ingredients. That's one reason so many of our customers actually look forward to eating their vegetables.
3. The Fresher the Food, The Greater the Nutrients
When fruits and vegetables are harvested, they're at their peak flavor, texture, and nutrition. Since most fruits and vegetables have a high water content (at least 70%), their quality as well as nutritional profile begins to diminish after they're plucked from a vine or dug out of the ground. As I'm designing the weekly menus for Plated, I'm always looking to include a variety of in-season ingredients that taste wonderful, and may not be something most people would think to try.
4. You'll Appreciate Your Food More
This one is simple: When you can't get your hands on an ingredient year-round, you start to to savor it more--and make the most of it--when you finally do. Becoming connected to seasonal produce will also expand your palate and cooking repertoire, inspiring you to experiment and see ingredients in a new light. Dark leafy greens and hearty roots might not be the prettiest vegetables, but you'd be surprised by their versatility and the incredible dimension they can add to meals.
Whether you're a committed seasonal eater or not, be sure to enjoy the wealth of delicious foods the Spring has to offer. To get a sample of the best dishes and recipes to enhance today's freshest ingredients, check out this week's menu at Plated.