Recipes from the Spring Garden: Radish Toasts, Pea and Mint Risotto, and More

Reader Contribution by Sheryl Campbell and The Lazy Farmer
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Bountiful spring radishes
Photo by Unsplash/phillippecollard

Its spring and harvest time has started in the early garden: the first radishes are ready, new asparagus spears knife their way out of the ground, and leaves of green garlic wave above their straw bedding. Depending how cold your winter was this year, there may be tulip petals coloring your salads while dandelion fritters and wild sorrel soup fill your foraging thoughts. Visit BouquetBanquet to find some ideas on using spring flowers in your meals.

The first early peas will be ready to harvest soon, while baby spinach and spring cabbages come along at the same time. Spring can be such a neglected time of year in the garden as people wait for consistent warmth to start planting.  Step away from the crowd and start your garden early each year so you can try these delightful recipes. If you planted late greens of cold-hardy varieties to overwinter you’ll be ready to harvest and cook even earlier!

Radish Toasts


  • 1 baguette
  • Butter, softened
  • Large spring radishes
  • Salt and pepper


1. Slice the baguette thinly and toast lightly in the oven.

2. Slice the radishes thinly as well.

3. Spread butter on the bread slices, top with a radish slice, salt and pepper. Eat up—you’ll find it’s hard to stop!

Deep-Fried Overwintered Kale


  • Several handfuls of overwintered kale, cut into 2 inch strips
  • 1 ½ cups beer (vary the taste with different types of beer)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups lard or peanut oil
  • Lemon wedges
  • Sea salt


1. Dip each strip of kale in beer, then dip in flour.

2. Set aside on a rack for 15 minutes

3. Heat lard or peanut oil in a cast iron Dutch oven.

4. When sizzling, drop in several kale strips at a time and remove as soon as they crisp.

5. Serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle of sea salt.

Pea and Mint Risotto


  • 3 quarts water
  • 3 Tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 3 ½ cups spring peas
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 shallot, peeled and minced
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup fresh mint chiffonade


1. In a large pan, bring water and salt to a rolling boil over high heat. Add peas and cook for one minute, drain, and rinse in cold water.

2. In a saucepan, heat chicken stock to barely simmering.

3. In a large, high sided skillet, gently cook the shallot and garlic in olive oil for 3 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and discard the garlic.

5. Add the Arborio rice and stir to coat well.

6. Over medium low heat, add warm stock one ladle full at a time stirring until absorbed before adding more.

7. When all the stock is absorbed, remove from heat, stir in Parmesan, peas, and mint.

8. Serve immediately.


Floral snap peas
Photo by Sheryl Campbell

Floral Snap Peas with Sesame


  • ½ cup calendula flower petals
  • 2 Tablespoon radish flowers
  • 4 cups freshly picked snap peas
  • ½ cup snap pea flowers
  • ¼ cup dark sesame oil
  • ¼ cup light sesame seeds


1. Cook snap peas for 2 minutes in boiling water, drain well.

2. Cool by running cold water over them in the colander for a moment.

3. Toss the peas with sesame seeds, calendula petals and snap pea flowers.

4. Pour sesame oil over everything and toss lightly. Serve cool.

Lemon parmesan asparagus salad
Photo by Pixabay/ludwigwilliams

Lemon-Parmesan Asparagus Salad


  • Two handfuls spring asparagus, sliced longwise, very thinly
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper


1. Whisk the oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper together.

2. Place the thinly sliced asparagus and Parmesan in a bowl, pour dressing over-top and toss lightly.

3. Serve immediately.

Minty-Orange Spring Peas


  • 3 cups freshly shelled English peas
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • Zest of one orange
  • Handful of fresh mint leaves, chiffonade


1. Cook peas for 4 minutes in 2 quarts boiling water. Drain well.

2. In a small bowl, mix melted butter, orange zest, and mint chiffonade. Pour over peas and toss lightly.Serve warm.

Pair any of these lovely spring salads and vegetable dishes with chops of spring lamb grilled to perfection. Add a bottle of Chianti or Malbec for the perfect spring al fresco dining experience. What’s coming out of your garden this month?

Sheryl Campbell is an heirloom gardener, shepherd, and edible flower educator who owns Bouquet Banquet in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Read Sheryl’s previous blogging with Mother Earth GardenerandGrit and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWSposts here.

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