As the world evolves, we continue to strive toward greater sustainability. Part of sustainability includes eating seasonally, as it allows you to support local farms and farmers. The fewer fruits and vegetables that must be transported or artificially manipulated to grow, the more nutritious the food, the lesser negative impact on the environment, and the better those ingredients taste. To support the sustainability movement, every season we’re featuring a series of dishes from D.C. restaurants that celebrate the best of the season’s bounty. This spring, we are including dishes using everything from leeks to morel mushrooms to artichokes to peas.
Amazing Artichokes: Modena’s crispy fried artichokes
Artichokes are one of spring’s most popular vegetables, and they don’t taste better than when chef John Melfi batters and fries them at Modena. Served with lemon oil and drizzled with sea salt, these fried ’chokes are crunchy, salty and addictively good. All you need is one of the restaurant’s dynamite cocktails to pair with the dish. The dish is great for sharing but a word of advice: You may want to hoard it all for yourself. 1199 H St. NW, DC; modenadc.com // @modenadc
Lively Leeks: Lapis’ aushak
Onions of all types are in season in spring, including spring onions, ramps and leeks. At Lapis, you can get your fill of leeks with an order of their famous Afghan dumplings, called aushak. Delicate dumpling wrappers are stuffed with shredded, sautéed leeks and then boiled. Once plated, a duo of sauces is spooned over the dumplings as a finishing touch. The first is a creamy, garlicky yogurt sauce, the second is a savory tomato and split pea sauce; combined they bring a blend of tang and warmth to the dish. 1847 Columbia Rd. NW, DC; lapisdc.com // @lapisdc
Meaty Morels: Indique’s morel vegetable stew
In the world of mushrooms, morels are one of the most highly coveted varieties, largely because they aren’t farmed — morels can only be found in the wild. Their chewy texture, nutty flavors and delicate, intricate form are other reasons to love them. Don’t get too attached though, because these gems are only found growing between March and June in certain locations. To sample these delightful ’shrooms in an especially creative dish, visit Indique, where the morels come soaked and swimming in a rich South Indian coconut curry. The coconut milk is infused with green chiles, curry leaves and ginger, and chopped carrots and potatoes add texture and flavor. The dish is meaty and decadent, and an optimal way to sample the season’s best mushroom. 3512 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; indique.com // @indiquedc
Perfect Peas: Timber Pizza’s “The Julia”
If there was ever a vegetable to represent spring, it would be the humble pea. It’s not just English garden peas which are in season, however. Sugar snap peas, pea shoots and snow peas are also at their best in the spring. While peas on a pizza may sound unusual, you will be pleasantly surprised by Timber Pizza’s “The Julia.” Crisp dough arrives smothered in cheese and topped with fresh sugar snap peas, a drizzle of pesto made from pea shoots and a generous heap of a pea shoot salad tossed in a lemon dressing. The pea shoots bring a sweet, fresh element to the dish and the sugar snap peas have an awesome crunch. For a pizza that epitomizes seasonality, this is it. 809 Upshur St. NW, DC; timberpizza.com // @timberpizzaco
Radiant Radishes: Beefsteak’s rainbow salad
This dish is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the tastebuds, with a whirlwind of color and flavor from different veggies. A bed of arugula, which is also a spring vegetable, comes topped with sugar snap peas and watermelon radishes with a gorgeous bright pink hue, tomatoes, feta cheese and crunchy puffed quinoa. A fresh lemon-honey dressing adds a bright citrus note and hint of sweetness to this vibrant salad. 800 22nd St. NW, DC; beefsteakveggies.com // @beefsteakveggies
Super Stinging Nettles: Iron Gate’s focaccia
Iron Gate’s Mediterranean-inspired menu always features a house-made, seasonal focaccia involving creative use of an in-season vegetable. This spring, their chewy focaccia is covered in gorgeous tomatoes, creamy goat cheese, pine nuts and a generous dollop of nettle pesto. Stinging nettle is a leafy plant that tastes grassy and earthy, somewhat similar to spinach. When converted into pesto the result is a bright, bold and slightly peppery sauce that compliments the tangy goat cheese and sweet tomatoes. 1734 N St. NW, DC; irongaterestaurantdc.com // @irongatedc
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