Top Ten Easy Dish Ideas with Spring Vegetables
Spring time is here; and the first harvests of vegetables of the year are sure to inspire great dishes to celebrate the season. When knowing some techniques on how to prepare spring vegetables, as well as some simple seasonings, preparing easy dishes will inspire you to eat your greens. Even those who dislike certain veggies will enjoy these top ten easy dish ideas with spring vegetables.
Grilled corn on the cobb with chili, lime, and sweet melted butter; a great spring time vegetable side dish.
Simply Steamed Artichokes With Garlic AioliSome find artichokes difficult to prepare; however, once you get the hang of it you will yourself cooking these “weeds” more often. Cool fact about artichokes is that back in WWI food was so scarce that people began to turn to alternative food sources. Artichokes are actually a type of thistle; thus if you have ever mishandled them, you know it hurts when the tips come in contact with your sensitive hands.
To trim an artichoke: Using a serrated knife, trim about an inch off the top of the artichoke; then trim and peel the stem. Take a pair of scissors cut the little sharp points from each leaf; now your artichoke is ready to be steamed. Artichokes take about 35 minutes to steam; add some fresh garlic cloves, salt, fresh lemon halves, and bay leave to the water to flavor the vegetables while they cook. Make a simple aioli by blending some fresh garlic, herbs, and lemon zest for a quick dip.
Minted Scented English PeasEnglish peas are super sweet and can be prepared in just minutes. This easy side is also great to add to a spring time risotto or fresh pasta; mint will brighten the dish as well as balance the sweet little gems. Shucking peas takes no time at all and it is worth the effort to find English peas at your farmers market. All this easy dish needs is about 2 cups of shucked peas, fresh mint leaves, lemon zest, extra virgin olive oil, and a splash of white wine. They cook in about 5 minutes with the oil and wine; add the other ingredients right before serving.
Sautéed Spring GarlicSpring garlic resembles spring onions but with a touch of purple on the roots; their flavor is mild and a touch on the sweet side. Spring garlic can be paired with a hearty steak, different kinds of fish, and chicken. A simple way to prepare them is to cut the vegetable in fork friendly bites and gently sauté in good quality extra virgin olive oil for about 5 minutes and season with salt and fresh cracked pepper. How easy is that!
Roasted AsparagusPreparing roasted asparagus is simple to make and wonderful as is. However, when you are going to roast asparagus for a side dish make a little extra for other exciting dishes. To roast asparagus all you need is salt, pepper, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice; roast for 8 minutes in a 425 F. degree oven. Chop up the leftovers for a spring vegetable frittata or create a quick flavorful puree of asparagus soup.
Avocado DressingIf you crave a creamy dressing and don’t want the unhealthy attributes that come with store bought salad dressings; try substituting an avocado when making your favorite vinaigrette. The healthy dose of omega fatty acids in the avocado along with its creamy texture will curb that craving for the traditional store bought dressing. Use the dressing for a seafood salad, vegetable dip alternative, or marinate fish with it.
Arugula Pasta and PestoArugula is a spicy lettuce and sometimes it can be used to replace certain herbs. It has a light peppery flavor and can be utilized in many ways; a popular dish is to create a pesto sauce. Just substitute the arugula for the basil for a new way to dress up pasta dishes and more. Another quick dish is to toss the arugula right the end of various pasta dishes; it adds a pop of color and flavor.
Roasted Spring BeetsDo not be confused with the beets you may see in the store during the winter; spring beets are more tender and usually smaller. They are bundled and the greens are attached; many may not realize that these greens are incredible as a salad green. To roast beets; just simply peel; quarter; and toss with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh thyme. Roast the beets in a 425 F oven for about 35 minutes. The roasted beets are perfect with grilled salmon, tossed with their tops and some fresh blue cheese, or puree to make the ever famous Borsht soup.
Radish SaladRadishes are known for their spicy crunchy flavor; and they are perfect to garnish certain dishes. Thinly slice the radishes and toss with some freshly grated ginger, rice vinegar, fresh cilantro, and season to taste. This salad is perfecto to top barbecue pork sandwiches or serve alongside a hearty rack of ribs.
Fava HummusWithout a doubt preparing fresh fava beans is a labor of love; there are a few steps to get to the actual fava bean. However, it is well worth it; these are a mild creamy bean that has many uses. One fun way to prepare the beans is to substitute them for garbanzo beans when following your favorite hummus recipe. Throw in a little fresh mint for a unique twist; use as a dip, sandwich spread, even as a pasta sauce.
Pea TendrilsAlso known as pea vines; some stores will carry this earthy leafy green-like vegetable; or you can head down to the farmers market to find them. Pea vines have become very popular outside of the fine dining restaurants the last couple of years; they are perfect to add to a salad, or quickly sauté for an incredible tasty side dish. The entire pea vine is edible; you just may need to trim for it to be easier to eat. One neat dish is to grill your favorite steak and make a summer steak salad with the pea tendrils as the lettuce greens.
These dish ideas are a great way to kick off the spring time celebration; and if you have not tried any of these vegetables, then let this be the year you venture onto a whole new edible world.
Jennifer has been a chef for over a decade in the Pacific Northwest. She likes to educate the public about the latest culinary trends and motivating them get in the kitchen and cook.