Spring’s Bounty

By Mark Graham

I love the change of seasons in Chicago. As winter releases its grip on the city and we reacquaint ourselves with the Chicago Green City Market in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, I’m excited for renewed opportunities to cook with ingredients only spring has to offer. Several Green City Market vendors have updated their websites reflecting their anticipated inventory of ingredients and inspiring me to prepare food for the ones I love.

Kinnikinnick Farms hopes to have Strapleaf baby arugula and wild arugula along with asparagus for sale. Marigold Farm hopes to feature pea shoots, radishes and green onions. And, Nichols Farms and Orchards is featuring, radishes, microgreens and potatoes on their website lists of products available for early spring.

I believe spring sets us up for simpler food preparations, and the ease of summer cooking ahead of us, while still affording us the luxury of lingering over a stew or braise. Here are a few recipes that are inspired by the fresh ingredients available to us in early May.

Braised Ramps or Spring Onions

Slow roasted ramps in olive oil, garlic, thyme and oil cured olives


Fresh Pea Bisque

A light soup of fresh peas, vegetable stock and herbs finished with almond milk


Open Faced Radish Sandwiches on Toast

Thinly sliced radishes, whipped citrus butter, capers and minced herbs on toasted whole-grain bread.


Strawberries and Cream Parfait

Strawberries, whipped cream and mascarpone cheese layered with Matcha Tea flavored angel food cake


Mark Graham is a graduate of Columbia University and a former Fellow of the Culinary Institute of America. Some career highlights include: Executive Chef for NBC Chicago and the Walnut Room in Marshall Field’s State Street, Chicago; Test Kitchen Chef, Good Eating section of the Chicago Tribune; Product Development Manager at Starbucks Coffee Company; Corporate Executive Chef at Basic American Foods in Walnut Creek, CA and at New Seasons Market in Portland, OR; and currently Managing Partner at New Food Studio, a food product development consulting firm in Chicago, IL.

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