What’s in season: Stroll among the stalls of your local farmers market right now, and you’ll probably catch the sweet fragrance of strawberries before you see them — something you’re not likely to do at the supermarket. Sample the berries, and you’ll find there’s no comparison; the delicate market berries are bursting with flavor, sweet and floral. Varieties such as super-sweet Gaviota and the more complex Seascape, along with newer varieties, including “Viva Patricia” and Albion, are beginning to show up during a season that typically spans the spring months. The quality of this fragile fruit can vary from week to week, so check with the farmers to see what they recommend at the moment.
What to cook: Score a pack — or splurge on a box — of ripe berries, and they might not make the trip home. Strawberries at their peak are probably best eaten out of hand. Or get creative, tossing them with salads or mounding them into a freshly baked pie shell. If you’ve never roasted them, toss the berries with a little oil and spread them on a baking sheet before placing in a hot oven for a few minutes to soften. The heat will deepen their flavor and enhance their sweet notes, and they make a perfect dessert simply spooned over ice cream or topped with chantilly cream.
What’s on the horizon: Fava beans are showing up, along with a variety of new potatoes. We also spotted mounds of Persian and Japanese cucumber at a couple stands.