whats in season chard rhubarb arugula strawberries
Food + Drink

What’s in Season in Ohio: May

This month brings strawberries, rhubarb and greens. Nicole Iker of Athens’ Casa Nueva restaurant shares ideas on how to use them at home. 

Casa Nueva in Athens has been serving up Mexican-inspired dishes using locally grown ingredients since 1985. Nicole Iker, president of the board of directors for the co-op restaurant, shares advice on how to prepare what’s in season this month.

hubarb: Iker says rhubarb is easy to prepare if you know how. “It’s really important to make sure you cut the leaves off,” she says. “The leaves are poisonous.” Trim the ends off the stalks before washing and drying them. The rhubarb is now ready for a variety of dishes.

Arugula: Iker recommends using arugula to create a flavorful pesto sauce. Plus, you can make a bunch to save for later. “Put it away, and when you’re ready to go back to arugula, you can pull your pesto out of the freezer,” she says.

Strawberries: Although mostly used in desserts and salads, strawberries go well with savory dishes, too. Casa Nueva uses the fruit in its Caribbean-spiced rhubarb strawberry salsa. “We put it on top of our burritos,” Iker says.

Swiss Chard:
“It is completely edible, the steam and the leaf,” Iker says. After cleaning the chard, Iker recommends chopping it up and sauteing it to help reduce its natural tartness.


Arugula pesto
Arugula Pesto 
Courtesy of Casa Nueva
Makes about a quart

1 cup sunflower seeds
2 cups arugula, packed
4 cloves garlic, peeled 
1 cup Parmesan cheese 
1/4 cup olive oil 
3/4 cup peanut oil
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon sea salt
Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 F. Toast sunflower seeds for 5–10 minutes until they turn a light golden brown. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.


Creamy Vegan Green Dip
Courtesy of Casa Nueva
Makes about a quart

4 cups Swiss chard, chopped
1/2 cup tahini
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice 
1/4 tablespoon + 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate after making and toss after five days.