Spring is nearly upon us, and that means the markets have gone green. Here's your monthly guide to shopping fresh produce at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.
The best of these delicious, tender shoots comes from Zuckerman's Farms, located in the California Delta, where peaty soil, 10 to 12 feet below sea level, is perfect for growing asparagus. Zuckerman's offerings vary in size; contrary to intuition, the thicker ones are more tender than the skinnier, more fibrous shoots. // Zuckerman's Farms (Tuesdays and Saturdays), cuesa.org
Having arrived in America in the late 1800s when a group of European immigrants planted a crop near Half Moon Bay, artichokes are an edible thistle and a pain to prepare, but we think they're worth the effort. At home, simply steam and dip in melted butter with a spritz of lemon. For a real treat, take a seat at Locanda, where the kitchen poaches them in wine and coriander and then fries them whole. // Iacopi Farms (Tuesdays and Saturdays), cuesa.org
This leafy green weed is mineral- and nutrient-rich, and tastes similar to spinach. Eat it raw in salads, sauté or steam it—you can even toss the leaves into your green smoothie if you're into that sort of thing. Lambsquarters are also referred to as pigweed and goosefoot, which unofficially makes this the most meaty-sounding plant in the English language. // Heirloom Organic Gardens (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays), heirloom-organic.com
Grated over roasted veggies, tossed in a salad dressing or added to mashed potatoes, fresh horseradish root adds a nice kick of heat and spice. // Knoll Farms (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays), cuesa.org/seller/knoll-farms
Not only can nettles be used as a medicinal herb to treat kidney problems, arthritis, and anemia, they are also a tasty substitute for greens in soups and pestos. Be careful, though—the prickly plant should be handled with care. If you do make a pesto, be sure to blanch the nettles first to eliminate the harsh, abrasive parts. // County Line Harvest (Tuesdays and Saturdays), countylineharvest.com
Right now the market is full of beautiful, delicate spring flowers, such as tulips, daffodils, ranunculi, and anemones. Pick up colorful spring blossom bouquets at Thomas Farms, McGinnis Ranch, Cypress Flower Farm or Four Sisters Farms. Later in the month, look for lilacs at Peach Farm, Capay Organic and Devoto Gardens.