Three simple recipes to celebrate Spring veg
The last of the snow has melted and winter winds have given way to warm spring breezes. Those hearty soups and rich stews that kept you fueled for the last few months all of a sudden seem a little heavy, a little too much at the end of a sunny day. It’s spring vegetables you crave. Time for a visit to the produce section of the grocery store or trek to the farmer’s market to check out the new crop of fresh veggies.
Asparagus A sure sign of spring is the abundant availability of asparagus, a versatile spring vegetable that you can use as a salad or appetizer course, a main course, or a side dish.
Asparagus is loaded with fiber, vitamins, and trace elements, but it also tastes good. Its unique stalk shape makes it a great finger food for kids. In fact, it’s a great finger food for anybody: etiquette experts agree that it’s OK to pick up a stalk and enjoy!
The best asparagus is the bunch you buy that’s fresh and local. The season is short, so indulge while you can. Look for firm, fat stalks with tightly closed buds on top. A great way to prepare them is to roast them.
Roast Asparagus Ingredients 1 pound fresh asparagus 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 4 grinds each freshly ground sea salt and pepper Lemon
Directions Preheat over to 425F. Wash and dry the asparagus. Select one stalk, hold it at both ends and snap. Use this stalk as a guide to trim the rest of the bunch, cut off the tough bottom on all stalks at the point where the test stalk snapped. Place stalks on a baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until a little charred and just tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, lightly squeeze lemon over all, then garnish with lemon zest. Serves four.
NOTE: Use leftover roast asparagus in tossed salads, or dress with vinaigrette and serve on a bed of Bibb lettuce as an elegant first course.
Peas Spring peas are delightful. Sweet, nourishing and packed with fiber, they are a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and iron. Peas are great in soups and salads and make a wonderful side dish. Even better, they can dress up and transform prepared foods.
Try adding a handful to canned vegetable soup or canned pea soup; heat as usual—the result looks and taste like you just made a batch of homemade soup! You can do this with other spring vegetables, as well. Here’s a simple pasta dish featuring fresh spring peas that you can serve hot as a main dish or cold, as a pasta salad.
Bowtie Pasta with Peas Ingredients ½ box bowtie pasta, prepared according to package directions ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil ¼ cup diced yellow onion 1 cup diced baked ham 1 cup freshly shelled spring peas ½ cup soft golden raisins ¾ cup large walnut pieces Freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar 1-2 tablespoons pasta water 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
Directions Prepare the pasta while you make the topping Gently heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion, and sauté until just translucent. Add ham, and sauté until you seem some light browning. Add peas, raisins, and walnut pieces. Mix together, then stir occasionally until heated through.
Salt and pepper to taste. Add rice wine vinegar and gently mix.
In a large serving bowl, combine hot, drained pasta, 1-2 tablespoons of pasta liquid, and pea mixture. Toss until well combined. Top with minced parsley. Serves four.
NOTE: If serving hot, pass a bowl of freshly grated Parmesan. If serving cold, reserve the minced parsley until just before serving, then toss with chilled bowtie pasta with peas.
Spring Onions Spring onions are the show-stoppers of the onion family. They’re gorgeous to look at and make great subject matter for artists. For your purposes, though, they make great subject matter for eating. Many people confused spring onions with scallions. Although related, the two should be treated as separate vegetables.
Spring onions have long green tops (hence the confusion) and a super shiny bulbous bottom, usually white, sometimes red. All parts are edible.
Onions are not nutritional powerhouses, but they do contain a lot of the fiber inulin. Inulin is a great source of nutrition for the “good bacteria” in your gut, so it’s an important part of a good diet. Here’s an incredibly versatile recipe that showcases the beauty queen of spring vegetables, spring onions.
Triple Play Onion Spread You can use this the spread as is for sandwiches, bagels, or crackers. Add sour cream and it becomes a dip. Let it melt on a steaming baked potato. Yum!
Ingredients 1 tablespoon olive oil 3 tablespoons butter 2 pounds sliced spring onions, bottoms only Freshly ground sea salt and pepper ½ cup sliced spring onions, bottoms only, reserved ¾ cup chopped green tops spring onions 8 ounces cream cheese, softened ¼ cup butter, softened ½ cup shredded Swiss cheese 1/3 cup small dice black olives ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce Dash hot sauce
Directions Melt oil and butter in a large frying pan. Add sliced white onions, reserving ½ cup for later. Stir to coat onions, cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are lightly brown. Be patient. This takes time.
As the onions begin to brown, add a grind or two each of salt and pepper. When the onions are brown, remove from heat and let cool. Dice the remaining half cup of slice onions.
Combine all ingredients; taste to see if additional salt, pepper, or Worcestershire sauce is necessary.
Pack into a crock, or shape into a ball if you are serving with crackers. Refrigerate overnight to let flavors blend. Keeps well refrigerated for up to two weeks.
Yield: About two cups.