'Foodie' may be a a term that's fallen out of vogue, but at its core, there's someone who love to eat, loves to cook and usually is big on seasonality. Living in a city with such incredible seasonal produce (and top-tier restaurants to boot) means that, like it or not, so many of us fit that description.
That being said, we figured we'd turn to the experts for their take on the best spring ingredients, and their fave ways to enjoy them.
Credit: Sarah Annand; Pictured is Published's nettle-stuffed pasta with morels, spring peas and fava
Cook morels with pasta like Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson, executive chef of Published on Main
"My favorite spring ingredient is morels. I love to forage for them. When you get in the right area, they can be so prolific. It's often a lot of work to scout the locations, find access, usually it means camping up in alpine locations. A lot of work to go foraging for them, but it's such a great part of our story, if we can present a dish at a table, 'with morels that chef picked yesterday.' They have such a unique flavour, texture, and look. They also preserve very well, so we can have them year round if we plan accordingly."
Best Way To Serve Morels: "I love to serve this dish with a pasta, and we've had many iterations of that. Lately, with a nettle stuffed pasta with spring peas and favas. I also love a spring dish we've done with it before, with nettle dumplings, and a chamomile and brown butter broth."
Pictured is Glowbal's spring pea and morel risotto
Serve up morels in risotto like chef Alex Kim, Glowbal Restaurant
"The flavours and earthy aroma of morels are a highlight. I like the meaty textures when simply sauteed with shallots in butter. It is easy to use with any type of food and goes really well with fish, grilled steaks, even just simple pasta and risotto."
Best Way To Serve Morels: "On our Spring menu at Glowbal, we have a Spring Peas and Morel Risotto Dish, served with Local brie, spring onion and lightly smoked butter."-
Herbs and Alliums
Credit: Christopher Revite via Unsplash
Make green onion pancakes like Jenny Hui, executive chef, The Lazy Gourmet
"Green onions are the first vegetable that comes out of my garden and it continues growing through spring, summer and early fall. It is a very versatile ingredient I can use as a garnish, make a dressing, or add to my Chinese dishes and salads."
Best Way To Eat Green Onions: "I love making green onion pancakes or green onion baos, as well as, the green onion ginger oil that goes with cold poach chicken!"
Credit: Anna Voss via Unsplash
Whip up ramp tartar like Doug Stephen, co-owner of DL Chicken, Downlow Burgers, Drive Canteen and Vennie’s Sub Shop
Anything from the spring allium family, but ramps would be at the top of that list. The depth and power of flavour, earthy and funky with a hint of that garlic/onion zippyness. There is just something so incredible about ramps that hits all the right notes for me, regardless of the way it's been prepared.
Best Way To Eat Ramps: "I personally am a huge sucker for any tartar that is served with ramps. The team at Elisa currently has a Smoked Bison Tartar served alongside some pickled ramps that is absolutely delicious. I'm also a fan of any pasta made with ramps, whether incorporated into a sauce, garnish, or even directly in the noodle... so so good!"
Credit: Cody Chan; Pictured is Minami's aburi ribeye with chimichurri
Serve 'em grill-side, like Alan Ferrer, executive chef, Minami Restaurant
"It's hard to pick just one, but fresh spring herbs and spring onions. They are versatile and can be paired with a lot of dishes, from savoury to sweet."
Best Way To Eat Alliums: "With anything off the grill, from protein to vegetables. I like to make a salsa verde, chimichurri, pesto, and/or herb oil to complement the protein (such as a steak) to add a nice bright refreshing layer of flavour to the dish."
Pictured is Heritage's Bao topped with crispy onions
Wrap them up with prawns like Roferth Mercado, sous chef at Heritage Asian Eatery
"Leeks have great depth of flavour, the perfect amount of sweetness and are extremely healthy."
Best Way To Eat Leeks: "Crispy prawn and leek spring roll."
Credit: Phil Hearing via Unsplash
Soup it up, like Chris Lam, chef at Straight and Marrow
"My favourite spring ingredient are all the veggies in the allium family, so onions, green garlic, but especially leeks."
Best Way To Eat Alliums: "Leeks are my favourite spring ingredient because I find that it pairs so well with all the other spring vegetables like morel and oyster mushrooms, fiddleheads and fava beans. I see leeks as kinda of the in between winter and summer foods where it is the perfect balance of fresh and heavy.
I love potato and leek soup, or even just sautéed leeks and mushrooms. We currently have a Vadouvan curry potato leek soup that accompanies swimming pink scallops. I love the way that leeks are able to cut richness while still being quite savoury."
Credit: Rich Won; Pictured is a Winston dish topped with watermelon radish
Snack on 'em fresh, like Douglas Lee, chef at Winston
"Radishes in springtime are so crisp, sweet and delicately spicy. They don’t have conflicted flavours and come in a variety of colours which is always welcome since we are coming out of winter."
Best Way To Eat Radishes: "I like to use radishes freshly sliced to offset stronger flavours in most of the menu items. The mild spice and freshness keeps other food components from tasting overly spicy, sweet, sour or salty. I do also like to serve radishes cut fresh with dip/condiments like gomae or hummus because the texture is so crisp when they’re fresh."
Pictured are Potluck's Cereal Spot Prawns
Keep the spot prawns simple like Justin Cheung, chef and co-owner of Potluck Hawker Eatery
"My favorite spring ingredient is actually harvested from our beautiful BC waters and only for a short period of time. I absolutely look forward to cooking with BC spot prawns every spring.
These prawns are first of all a beautiful product. Large, plump, briny, sweet and when cooked fresh has such a desired texture."
Best Way To Eat Spot Prawns: "I love to treat these prawns as simply as possible, and using the heads to extract as much flavor as possible. At Potluck Hawker Eatery, we have two standout dishes that showcase the prawns for their purity. For our Cereal Spot Prawns, we lightly batter and fry them until crisp, tossed with a salted egg yolk butter, and topped with a cereal made of curry leaves and chili padi. We also make a soup noodle, Penang Spot Prawn Mee, using the heads to create an umami packed broth with sweet depth of pork rib bones, served over noodles, water spinach and topped with our house-made chili garlic crunch. Just a squeeze of calamansi to balance all the richness."
Pictured are Maenam's grilled spot prawns with nam jim sauce
Grill 'em up like Mike Tuangkitkun, Chef de Cuisine at Maenam
"BC spot prawns are one of my favourite ingredients for spring. They envoke fond memories of my childhood. When I was young and living in Thailand , my parents would drive out to Sing Buri (about 2 hours from Bangkok) to eat giant river prawns. We would simply grill them with charcoal and dip the cooked prawns in nam jim sauce."
Best Way To Eat Spot Prawns: "When they are in season, Maenam receives fresh BC spot prawns daily from F.I.S.H. (one of our absolute favourite seafood suppliers). To highlight the sweet flavours of the spot prawns, we also like to grill them and serve them with nam jim sauce. They are so fresh they are literally jumping off the grill!"
Sprouts and Microgreens
Rich Won; Pictured is a Hero's Welcome sandwich topped with sprouts
Toss microgreens on your sandwich like Monroe Webb of Hero’s Welcome
"One of the ingredients I’ve started using recently are sprouts and microgreens. Though they are definitely associated with spring growth, they are easily accessible year round. With something as little as a jar or an inexpensive led grow light on the kitchen counter, one can pack their food with fresh flavour and nutrition."
Best Way To Eat Microgreens: "Seed blends work great or you can choose one particular seed to isolate a desired flavour to compliment your dish. We have used brassica radish microgreens in our ham & cheese sandwich to add a fresh spicy mustard kick. And course, most sprouts make an excellent salad topper or addition to a charcuterie board."
Credit: Sarah Annand; Pictured is Bar Susu's pavlova with rhubarb confiture and chicory root creme Anglaise
Top it with pavlova like Ash Kurtz, chef at Bar Susu
"Rhubarb is one of the first local spring ingredients to become available, and after a long winter, anything other than root vegetables popping out of the ground is great.
It also has a considerably long growing season, from April to August. Prized for its acidity, its versatility is also something I love. I tend to cook rhubarb gently — for cold seafood preparations to compliment its delicate flavours and add a crisp texture, in game dishes I tend to use it in sauces to balance the richness of the protein with its acidity, and probably most obvious, in desserts, to balance their sweetness."
Best Way To Eat Rhubarb: "Right now at Bar Susu, we are using it in a dessert: pavlova with rhubarb confiture and chicory root creme Anglaise."
Credit: Maximilian Zhan via Unsplash
Confit that 'barb like Max Straczek, Head Chef at Fable Kitchen
"Rhubarb is my favourite, favourite ingredient for spring. It's only grown for a short period of time. Unfortunately, it hasn't popped out of the ground yet this year. I find it really funny when a lot of people make it into sweet drinks or desserts, where it has a real great Savory component to it."
Best Way To Eat Rhubarb: "For me, sounds really bizarre but I really like confiting rhubarb sticks in olive oil and serving them with fish (like grilled sable). But I also like making a chutney with it and serving it with pork."
Credit: @smmccomm; Pictured is a Chickadee Room cocktail
Turn it into a syrup like Sabrine Dhaliwal, Bar Manager at The Chickadee Room
"As the season changes from winter to spring, I always look forward to working with rhubarb. It's nostalgic, bringing back childhood memories of eating raw stalks dusted with sugar. This lovely tart stalk is a great way to bring acidity, complexity and a lovely rose colour to cocktails."
Best Way To Eat Rhubarb: "I tend to keep it simple by turning into a syrup. You can always try it in the refreshing twist on a gimlet (below).
Rhubarb Gimlet Recipe60ml Belvedere Vodka15ml rhubarb syrup20ml lemon juice
Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake for 5-10 seconds, strain the cocktail into a coupe, garnish with a rhubarb ribbon and enjoy."
Credit: Hello I'm Nik via Unsplash
Bake it in a pie like Steven Hodge, Pastry Chef and TV Host
"I love how rhubarb and cherries can be paired with other fruits, when cooked they hold their texture and more flavour profiles come out. The addition of acid or sugar makes for more of an intense flavour."
Best Way To Eat Rhubarb: "Pies and puff pastry turnovers. I love these fruits with pastry. The butteriness and flakiness has an amazing texture with the softness of the fruit."
Credit: Sheri Silver via Unsplash
Make the best kind of mess (and add strawberries!) like Bryan Satterford, Co-Owner and Executive Chef at Juke Fried Chicken
"The greatest of all fruit combos... strawberries with rhubarb. Growing up with a father from England, I always looked forward to spring when he made Birds custard with rhubarb and strawberries as soon as they were ready - right from the garden."
Best Way To Eat Rhubarb: "I don't really have a sweet tooth, but one of my favourite desserts is a classic English Eton Mess. When I make one at home I usually use both rhubarb jam and strawberries."
Credit: @giovanebacaro; Pictured (top plate) is Bacaro's taleggio with preserved rhubarb
Go savory with a rhubarb mostarda, like Scott Korzack, Executive Chef at Bacaro
"Rhubarb is so versatile and it brings this great acidity. The options are endless as welll as the preservation methods."
Best Way To Eat Rhubarb: "We made a rhubarb mostarda last year and have been serving it with our taleggio all year. And of course desserts - rhubarb tarts, a topping for panna cotta or gelato, or an accompaniment for a chicken liver terrine, even serving it macerated with a crudo of fish. I could go on and on, the options are endless!"
Pictured is Tractor's asparagus risotto
Toss asparagus into a risotto like Harper Moll, Tractor At Home and Tractor Foods
"Asparagus just screams spring for me! The crunch, delicate flavour, and bright green hue are a well-deserved treat after a long winter of root veggies."
Best Way To Eat Asparagus: "My favourite dish to include asparagus in is the Asparagus and Pea Risotto. Spring in Vancouver typically means we have a few more months of cold rainy weather, so a cozy, warming risotto with fresh green veggies and plenty of lemon zest really does it for me! The bright and crunchy asparagus provides a beautiful contrast to the creamy texture of the risotto. I like to pair the risotto with spicy pan-fried chili garlic prawns for a spicy treat!"
Credit: Christina Rumpf via Unsplash
Drizzle it in hollandaise like Phyllis Tanga, Chef-Instructor at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts
"Asparagus is such a versatile spring ingredient. It can be served for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and can be prepared in so many different ways: sautéed, grilled, steamed, shaved as a salad, idipped in tempera batter and fried. I also like making asparagus tarts. It can be as simple as steaming them and serving with a drizzle of very beautiful olive oil and some grated parmesan reggiano and finished with some flaky sea salt, either Maldon or local Vancouver Island Sea Salt."
Best Way To Eat Asparagus: "Anything rich, like hollandaise sauce or poached eggs!"
Credit: Max Griss via Unsplash
Go Milanese-style like Mark Perrier, Executive Chef at Carlino
"Nothing tastes like first of the season, recently cut, local asparagus. No other asparagus can compare."
Best Way To Eat Asparagus: "Asparagus Milanese style. Glazed in butter and topped with a fried egg and parmesan reggiano."
Pictured is Kafka's Bestcoast Chicken Caesar Salad
Level up your salad like Nitzan Cohan, Executive Chef at Kafka’s Café
"My favourite ingredient in the spring is everything and anything green—from herbs to fresh leaves; Arugula and Kale especially. Arugula and kale are much more flavourful at this time of year."
Best Way To Eat Your Greens: "We use both in our Bestcoast Chicken Caesar salad, with our house-made Caesar dressing and some fresh Gala apples. The leafs are hearty and have a bite of their own; they hold up to a rich garlicky dressing well. The sweet and slightly acidic nature of the apple complements the sharp leaves nicely too."
Pictured is doppio raviolo filled with both spring pea and basil puree and ricotta and lemon
Stuff ravioli like Behshad Zolnasr, chef at C|Prime
"I love spring peas! The freshness and the simplicity of the ingredient truly doesn’t need much to make it shine."
Best Way To Eat: "I make a doppio raviolo, where half of the pasta is filled with a spring pea and basil purée and the other half with ricotta and lemon, with an simple poached butter sauce. It’s amazing!"
Pictured is English Pea and Ricotta Agnolotti
Complement your fish dish, like Dennis Peckham, corporate chef at Glowbal Restaurant Group
"English Peas for me are very nostalgic and remind me of growing up with my dad and gardening in the back yard. Being the typical kid that I was (Except always causing more trouble obviously) I was never fond of many of the vegetables that my dad grew for our family, except for the English Pea. I think that I liked them as a kid because of the way you got to open them, like a little surprise. Eating them I remember how sweet they were, and the way that they popped in my mouth. Much like I approach my food, I'm immediately drawn to items that trigger nostalgia and fond memories of my childhood."
Best Way To Eat Peas: "For current food items that I use to highlight them, I can think of one specifically: Halibut with English Pea Ragout, English Pea and Ricotta Agnolotti and Pea Tendril Salad. Screams of spring, bright and fresh flavours, and simple to make at home."
Pictured is an array of Mon Paris' strawberry-topped desserts
Top a cheesecake with strawberries likeElena Krasnova, Owner and Pastry Chef at Mon Paris Pâtisserie
"Things are just starting to happen in terms of local fruit. We get very excited for the first drop of strawberries which arrives closer to the end of spring in June. Locally grown berries are such a treat for a pastry chef to work with and the first strawberries are a sign of the summer bounty to come."
Best Way To Eat Strawberries: "We get a lot of our berries from Driediger Farms in Langley. The first strawberry delivery of the season will be used in our cheesecake. Strawberry cheesecake is classic and popular for good reason: the tartness of the cheesecake is sublime with the sweetness of the strawberry."
Apples and Tomatoes
Credit: Kamala Bright via Unsplash
Serve fresh produce alongside halibut like Ron Stratton, chef at Black + Blue
"As it was a cold winter and early spring, local produce is a bit behind, but I do look forward to the first available apples and heirloom tomatoes to use in simple and tasty appetizers and desserts."
Best Way To Eat Apples and Tomatoes: "What is available now which is extremely good product is our fresh pacific halibut. We currently sell it in the dining room and on the roof. Such great products are best treated simply to highlight their flavour."