Springtime Ingredients: A Wish List From NJ Chefs

spring vegetable recipes

With a change of season (technically) starting tomorrow, it’s an understatement to say that most of us are looking forward to warmer weather and the return of spring-fresh ingredients.

We caught up with some of New Jersey’s top chefs and asked this question: What springtime ingredient are you looking forward to getting your hands on and what dish are you looking forward to preparing with it? Here’s what they had to say.

Eric B LeVine, Chef/Partner
Morris Tap & Grill
I would have to say I look forward to asparagus. It’s one of my favorite vegetables and when we hit spring, at the end of May in particular, the stalks are crisp, clean and full of flavor. Asparagus is a spring time vegetable, it’s not a fall or winter vegetable – its peak is end of May to beginning of August. Just because you can get it doesn’t make it right, especially with this vegetable.
Favorite use of the ingredient? Asparagus, roasted cherry tomatoes, homemade ricotta salata, roasted garlic spread.

Thomas Cizsak, Executive Chef/Partner
Chakra Restaurant
I’m looking forward to foraging for ramps. Also, white asparagus. For me, white asparagus rings in the springtime. I grew up in an asparagus-growing area in Germany. I poach it and serve it with Mangalitsa ham.

Anthony Bucco, Executive Chef
The Ryland Inn
I have to say rhubarb. Even moreso then morels, ramps and asparagus (at the Ryland it is only used when available locally). It can star on a dessert or as a savory complement. It also plays well as a supporting ingredient in soups and purées. Chef de Cuisine, Craig Polignano, will be using rhubarb to play co-star to a rose water panna cotta. On the savory side, it will be paired with our local guinea hens on the tasting menu.

Bryan Gregg, Chef/Owner
Escape Montclair
That’s easy! Every chef loves morels and ramps. I’m lucky enough to know where to find them in New Jersey. We love serving both over our grits and roasted rabbit.

Ariane Duarte, Chef/Owner
So many things! Rabbit lamb, ramps, favas!
Favorite use of the ingredient? Rabbit pot pie.

Josh Thomsen, Executive Chef/Partner
Agricola Eatery
There are four ingredients: English peas are a must! We love making a simple pureed soup. Green asparagus paired with morel mushrooms and fiddlehead ferns. Ramps—I add them raw to salsa verde or in a sauté with mushrooms. And rhubarb, for any dessert.

Todd Villani, Executive Chef/Owner
Terre à Terre
Asparagus and morels. I’m introducing an appetizer with these ingredients over truffle toast with a poached hen egg and Applewood smoked lamb bacon.

Michael Carrino, Chef/Partner
Pig & Prince Restaurant & Gastro-Lounge
My favorite springtime ingredients are wild ramps and wild onions. I use them in many different applications. They are simple, yet delicious.
Favorite use of the ingredient: Soft shell crabs with country ham and creamed ramps and wild spring onion soup with pickled garlic and scallions.


Veronique Deblois, Food & Wine Chickie: Veronique is a food and wine writer based in Morris County. As the author of the popular blog, Food & Wine Chickie Insider, Veronique shares recipes, wine and restaurant reviews and insight into the travel industry of which she’s a 15-year veteran. Follow Veronique on Twitter or like her Facebook page.