The beginning of Spring 2014 has been unmistakably wintery. For me, the difficulty of Spring gardening is not in the ever-regenerating to do list, but in the necessary patience and faith. We put so much energy into prepping beds and getting things in the ground, and then what? The waiting can be maddening.

Boosting morale through the slow beginning of Spring helps me keep momentum going through late spring and summer maintenance, troubleshooting and succession planting.

I wish I could confess that my gardening ambitions were motivated by the horticultural interest of a scientific mind. The reality is, I got into gardening because of food. And the environment. But mostly food. When I need a reminder of why I put effort into gardening, I turn to the wide world of new-to-me recipes. I’ve gathered here a list of recipes that I’m most excited to make as soon as those early season crops start producing.

Pickled Red Onions

(Image & Recipe: Orangette)

There are few things that I enjoy more than a pickle. I’ve been known to drink pickle brine straight from the jar late at night when I think no one’s watching.  Pickled red onions are awesomely tangy and sweet, and the acid takes away some of the bite of the raw onion — perfect for topping sandwiches and tacos. The spice profile of this particular recipe intrigues me, and the resulting bright pink pickle is beautiful.

Spring Radishes Braised with Shallots and Vinegar

(Image: Faith Durand; Recipe: The Kitchn)

I have a lot of love for radishes. They don’t need much space, they mature quickly, and they’re colorful and tasty. Unfortunately, a lot of coworkers and High Rocks girls (i.e. the people that the High Rocks community garden is supposed to feed) don’t agree about the “tasty” part. I end up taking home a lot of radishes. I normally slice them raw for salads and sandwiches or grate them into a slaw. I think that braising them might just be a game changer — giving me a new way to eat surplus radishes, and maybe finding a way that more folks will enjoy eating a new vegetable. Win, win.

Macaroni Peas

(Photo: James Ransom; Recipe: Food52)

I’ve been adding peas to pesto pasta for years, but it’s never occurred to me to actually blend them into a pasta sauce, creating a creamy texture without the addition of cream. For a simpler version, just add the peas to the boiling pasta for the last few minutes and strain them out with the noodles. Top with fresh herb pesto and serve — simple and seasonal.

How do the rest of you get inspired when the weather is making gardening difficult? Do you have any favorite spring recipes? I’d love some new suggestions!

Rachel Wilson