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Spring Fling

March 30, 2016

When at their peak, vegetables need only a few ingredients to make them tasty. Pairing vegetables and herbs that grow at the same time can help guide you in the kitchen. Olive oil, herbs, garlic and/or onion, salt and pepper, sometimes it’s just this rustic.

When I stroll through the market I’m looking for freshness, then color (eating a variety of colorful foods is not only pretty but provides needed nutrients and vitamins) and finally what appeals to my family.

The bunches of herbs that sit in front of the vegetables at market stands, naturally complement one another. Ever see basil in January? Not likely. It’s in its full glory in the summer when vine-ripened tomatoes are at their peak, a natural pairing. Dill, parsley and chives, herbs that are thriving now, are beautifully suited with roasted beets, sugar snap peas and asparagus to name just a few.

Here are a few dishes I’ve made so far with my Thursday market purchases. No need for a formal recipe, you got this!  If you’re unsure about quantity then start with a little and add as you see fit. Just remember, you can always add ingredients to a recipe but not take them away.

Sesame Shaved Snap Peas and Asparagus

Cut sugar snap peas on a diagonal and thinly cut or slice on a mandolin asparagus. Add to a bowl. About two cups.

Shaved Asparagus

Combine 4 teaspoons of peanut oil, 4 teaspoons rice wine vinegar, one teaspoon sesame oil and one teaspoon of mirin, salt and pepper to taste and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. My family devoured it, claiming it one of their favorite ways to eat these vegetables.  Don’t have these ingredients, no problem. A simple olive oil and vinegar combination would be delicious too.

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I made a salad of all the fresh vegetables and hard boiled eggs from the farmers market for lunch. Added some chicken and drizzled my spring buttermilk coulis, so good!

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I enjoy listening to podcasts when at home. One of my favorites is Evan Kleiman. She is the host of Good Food on KCRW.  I learn something new every time, it’s a delight. On a recent episode, a chef describe how he took the root ends of green garlic, put them in a pan, covered with water and simmered for 2-3 hours to make a stock. Brilliant! I did just that and added the green stems as well. This is so good!

Green Garlic roots and tops

You do need to clean the root end as it has a lot of dirt but the results are worth it. This stock is excellent in risotto, soup and you can freeze it too.

For a quick dinner, I sautéed green garlic, spring onions and leek (1-2 each depending on size) added about one cup of this stock, then some white wine. Reduced this by half, toss in a pat of butter then add it to cooked pasta, roasted broccoli and grilled chicken. Throw in a handful of parmesan cheese and some fresh herbs, drizzled with olive oil, it was awesome.

I made asparagus pesto (link below) and it’s wonderful. I added about a tablespoon more olive oil and a teaspoon of lemon juice, other than that I followed the directions. I toasted bread then brushed on the pesto topped it with hard boiled eggs and baby arugula. Drizzled with olive oil and Maldon Sea Salt tasty!

I would use this pesto in egg salad, top off omelets or tossed with pasta.

Asparagus pesto with hard boiled eggs and baby arugula

Here are more Spring Fling ideas…

  1. Always a favorite entertaining recipe Asparagus and Gruyere Tart and so easy!
  2. Broccoli and Cheese, such a classic combination. This will be on rotation in your house Grilled Cheese with Roasted Broccoli .
  3. This Fargo with Spring Vegetables calls for english peas which haven’t made an appearance at the market yet. I’d replace with sugar snap peas.
  4.  I love pesto in all forms so why not try Asparagus Pesto  its wonderful with eggs on toast.
  5. Great tips and techniques for cooking spring vegetables here How To Put Spring On A Plate.
  6. I haven’t made this but it combines two of my favorites this time of year  Green Garlic Soup  .

Later today, I’ll turn the remaining loaf of bread I bought last week into croutons and bread crumbs as I’ll buy a fresh one tomorrow. For dinner I’ll try to use up all the greens I still have by making a salad and sauté some spinach in-yes, you guessed it-green garlic and spring onions. Happy Cooking!

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