Eating vegetables can sometimes feel like a chore—but the struggle ends here. That’s because spring is around the corner, that magical time of the year when vegetables such as asparagus, carrots, and Swiss chard are in season and winter’s hearty dishes suddenly seem a lot less appetizing. These five veggie options from Chicago restaurants make it easy to dig into your greens (and oranges and purples, too).
Pizzeria Bebu, the just-opened pizza place in Lincoln Park that’s all about a crispy thin crust, doesn’t serve your standard Chicago pie, and these aren’t your standard beets. They’re mixed with farro, sheep’s milk feta, and herbs, and topped with cabernet vinaigrette. While it might seem odd to order vegetables at a pizzeria, we have reason to believe that every dish coming out of the kitchen will be a standout. Both the owner and executive chef have spent time at Nico Osteria. 1521 N. Fremont St., 312-280-6000
The downtown steakhouse may be known for its high-quality meats, but there are plenty of reasons to peruse the other parts of the menu. Ultimately you’ll want to set your gaze on the Pickled Purple Cauliflower, an unexpected side that also features fennel, carrots, and arugula. All those vegetables go down a lot easier when they’re topped with feta and candied pecans. Consider it a decadent warm-up for the dry-aged bone-in ribeye coming your way. 222 N. LaSalle Dr., 312-726-7777
The calendar may still say winter, but it just so happens to be the start of asparagus season. Blue Door Kitchen & Garden’s chef Todd Hawkesworth says seeing asparagus pop up on restaurant menus across the city is a signal that spring is here. He presents three ways to taste it: sautéed, pickled, and fresh, with a marcona almond crumble and a sunny-side-up hen's egg on top. 52 W. Elm St., 312-573-4000
Temporis, a new 20-seat restaurant in West Town, features the sunflower (which technically qualifies as a plant, but we’re taking the liberty of calling it a vegetable here) on its eight-course tasting menu. The dish is presented in the most innovative way that highlights the sunflower in its many forms: sunchoke, endive, salsify, seeds, and chamomile. 933 N. Ashland Ave., 773-697-4961
It’s obvious but accurate to compare the beautifully plated dishes at Terzo Piano with the art gracing the halls of the museum below. Take this dish, which places smoked heirloom carrots on top of cumin yogurt, dates, and curried granola. It’s light enough to accompany another item on the menu or can serve as a snack before you view the museum’s modern wing. 159 E. Monroe St., 312-443-8650