What to Read Next

The Pretty, Pungent First Signs of Spring

March 10, 2014

Fresh alliums are among the sweetest harbingers of spring. A far cry from papery storage varieties, these succulent just-plucked aromatics deserve a starring role at the table.

Flowering Chives

The tiniest member of the onion family, chives are easy to cultivate. Don’t dig up the whole plant; treat it as a cut-and-come-again crop, snipping some of the greens and flowers — both are edible — when needed.

Related: Quick, One-Pot Meal Ideas To Feed the Whole Family

Fresh Garlic

Less pungent in flavor than the familiar mature bulb, fresh garlic has just split into individual paper-wrapped cloves. Even younger green garlic is used in its entirety, like scallions.

Watch our How to Cook videos to learn the best ways to prepare this essential ingredient.

How to Chop Garlic
How to Mince Garlic
How to Make Garlic Paste

Related: Grilled Cheeese Recipes for Grown-Ups

Garlic Scapes

For garlic to produce the cloves we all know and love, the flower buds, or scapes, must be removed in early spring. Snakelike in appearance, they are slightly spicy and have become a springtime delicacy.

Related: 22 Chicken Dinner Recipes in Less Than 30 Minutes


Leeks are an elegant and delicately flavored cousin of the onion. While growing, they are mounded with soil to keep their stems white and tender. Wash them carefully since the soil often gets caught between the plant’s many layers.

Related: 47 Ways to Maximize Space in Your Kitchen

Cipollini Onions

Meaning “little onions” in Italian, cipollinis are small in size but big in taste. They come in red and white varieties, both of which are deliciously sweet. When roasted whole, they will melt in your mouth.


Shallots grow in a cluster of compact bulbs. They are complex and intensely flavored, yet delicate enough to be used raw in vinaigrettes and sauces.

Watch our How to Cook videos to learn the best ways to prepare this essential ingredient.

How to Slice a Shallot
How to Mince a Shallot

Fresh Onions

When purchasing fresh onions, look for vibrant, sturdy green tops, avoiding any that are limp, discolored, or slimy. Because they contain higher water content than storage varieties, they won’t keep long, so store them in the refrigerator and use them within a few days.

Watch our How to Cook video to learn the easiest way to cut thick or thin onion rings.

Spring Onions

Pulled from the ground before the bulbs have had a chance to form, spring onions can be used like scallions, as a zesty garnish for soups and salads.

More from Martha Stewart:
Delicious Desserts in 15 Minutes or Less
14 New, Lighter Comfort Food Ideas

Watch For More: