Fleeting spring produce: Seasonal warm-weather vegetables

While New York restaurants go into ramp overload, TONY is spreading love to equally deserving spring produce, from fiddlehead ferns to stinging nettles.

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Frankly, if we see one more ramp on a spring menu, we’ll fork ourselves in the eye. To take a break from the ramp-age, we rounded up dishes that highlight fellow spring-produce stalwarts, including fiddlehead ferns, stinging nettles, rhubarb and morels. Root through spring’s delicious bounty before it’s gone.

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    FIDDLEHEAD FERN GNUDI AT THE MARROW

    The snapped-off tips of unfurled ostrich-fern fronds—prized for their grassy flavor and toothsome crunch—are among spring’s most elusive crops, grown for a short season (about three weeks in May) in deep, damp woods. Harold Dieterle crowns pillowy ricotta gnudi with the curlicue fiddleheads. Tender English peas and translucent radish ribbons add another garden hit, while salty Pecorino shavings and sumptuous emulsified butter sauce curb the ferns’ slight vegetal bitterness. 99 Bank St between Greenwich and Hudson Sts (212-428-6000). $14.

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

    STINGING-NETTLE SOUP AT GWYNNETT ST.

    No need to grab the antihistamines—the bristly, harsh bite of these springtime leaves is tempered with a quick blanching (though not poisonous, contact with a raw nettle can result in day-ruining irritation). At avant-garde Gwynnett St., the vexing greens in this woody soup are downright delicate. Forest-green clam-kombu broth is poured tableside over a tumble of nettle, dotted with plump bivalves, doubling down on fresh-from-the-sea brininess. Silky strands of the plant give the bowl a rich, earthy funk, which is brightened by parsley. 312 Graham Ave between Ainslie and Devoe Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-889-7002). $15.

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    FAVA BEAN RISOTTO AT CHARLEMAGNE

    This legume may have gained notoriety as Hannibal Lecter’s go-to side dish (paired with a nice chianti, of course), but smooth favas are anything but bloodcurdling. Dubbed the king of beans, the buttery emerald seeds are right at home at this regally named spot, swelling creamy risotto to even heartier heights. Chef Jodi Bernhard laces the luscious rice with nutty Grano Padano, a deft match for the al dente beans, while shoestring strips of salty, rosy serrano ham counter the favas’ natural sweetness. 679 Greenwich St at Christopher St (646-558-5623). $20.

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    PISTACHIO CAKE WITH RHUBARB SORBETTI AT LOCANDA VERDE

    Pastry superchef Karen DeMasco highlights the lip-puckering sourness of ruby-hued rhubarb—popping up at farmers’ markets until September—as a delicious foil for her pistachio cake. Sticky-moist and subtly nutty, a thick wedge of the pale-green cake is smartly paired with refreshing rhubarb sorbet and a chunky cherry-rhubarb conserve. An airy fluff of pistachio cream and crunchy nuts tame the rhubarb’s signature tang. 377 Greenwich St between Franklin and North Moore Sts (212-925-3797). $11.

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    ABBYVILLE POTATO SALAD AT MARIETTA

    With their paper-thin skins and firm, sweet flesh, freshly harvested young potatoes—in season from April through July—are a crisp, clean base for this refreshing salad. Thin disks of petite purple, white and yukon gold spuds are arranged like a blossom, piled with kale ruffles, sweet Vidalia slices and vibrant early green beans. A light, lemony vinaigrette brightens the vegetables, complemented with dots of sharp, acidic Dijon. 285 Grand Ave between Clifton Pl and Lafayette Ave, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn (718-638-9500). $8.

  • Photograph: Krista Schlueter

    BRAISED PEA GREENS AT MISSION CHINESE FOOD

    Szechuan spice maestro Danny Bowien gives dainty, mild-mannered pea greens some serious heft. In this deep, nuanced soup, a tangle of the silky, wilted vines—a staple of Chinese stir-fry—receives a fiery lift courtesy of fermented chili and Old Bay–seasoned peanuts. Nutty adzuki beans and hunks of kabocha squash, saturated to softness in the robust pumpkin broth, cool the Scoville units to a pleasant tongue-tingling level. 154 Orchard St between Rivington and Stanton Sts (212-529-8800). $13.

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

    GOLDEN MORELS AT MAISON PREMIERE

    At this Williamsburg hot spot, oyster-slurpers can find one of spring’s most sought-after delicacies alongside their beloved bivalves: the golden morel. Sautéed bulbs of smoky Oregon mushrooms come sponged in a whipped Normandy velouté, a velvety saffron-flecked sauce padding the morels’ honeycomb ridges. Fat stalks of braised asparagus—a fellow harbinger of spring—and fleshy poached oysters prove a sweet contrast with the earthy, trufflelike gems. 298 Bedford Ave between Grand and South 1st Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-335-0446). $13.

Photograph: Jessica Lin

FIDDLEHEAD FERN GNUDI AT THE MARROW

The snapped-off tips of unfurled ostrich-fern fronds—prized for their grassy flavor and toothsome crunch—are among spring’s most elusive crops, grown for a short season (about three weeks in May) in deep, damp woods. Harold Dieterle crowns pillowy ricotta gnudi with the curlicue fiddleheads. Tender English peas and translucent radish ribbons add another garden hit, while salty Pecorino shavings and sumptuous emulsified butter sauce curb the ferns’ slight vegetal bitterness. 99 Bank St between Greenwich and Hudson Sts (212-428-6000). $14.


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