Lent, which began last Wednesday, owes its name to the Germanic root for spring. Though local peas and asparagus are at least 40 days off, other signs of spring are sprouting.
What to Look For
Greenhouse-grown rhubarb is in stores now, and its a pinker, more tender version of the vegetable than what youll find at the Greenmarket come spring. Slice, simmer with sugar and vanilla, and serve over ice cream, pudding, or yogurt, or make it into cobbler (widely available).
Green spring garlic consists of a mild bulb and leeklike green stalk. Its currently coming from the Baja peninsula and can be used in place of mature garlic for a fresher flavor. Sauted, the bulb and stalk are great on spaghetti. You can also try them raw on these crostini ($6.99 per pound at Agata & Valentina).
Tarocco blood oranges from Sicily are bigger, juicier, and more flavorful than the sour Moro bloods grown in California. We dont get many of these imported delights so take advantage while you can; try them in this Italian salad ($3.99 per pound at Balduccis, $2.49 at Agata & Valentina).
The South American cherimoya looks like a closed-up artichoke and smells like a mix of pineapple, banana, and litchi. Ripen on the counter until near-mushy to bring out the rich tropical flavor; chilled, they're a custardlike dessert ($7.99 per pound at Graces Market).
Plums from Chile are now at their peak. One of the loveliest is the lemon plum, a teardrop-shaped fruit that starts out lemony yellow and ripens to a crimson blush as it becomes increasingly soft, juicy, and sweet (widely available).
This Just In
Now you can make Jacques Torres brownies yourself. The local chocolatier, working with King Arthur Flour, just unveiled a line of mixes inspired by his brownies and cookies. Just add eggs and butter and bake for intense, super-chocolatey results ($12.99 for a box that makes twelve brownies, at Balduccis. Zoe Singer