Spoils of Spring: My Top 5 Veggie Picks

Bright green spears poking out from the dirt in the planters renew my spirit, which has been worn by winter. Some flowers have even begun to bloom. Even in the rain it is impossible to feel down looking at the vibrant purple of the pansies and the bright yellows of daffodils standing defiant to the droplets. The slow efflorescence exclaims spring is finally upon us, and I am so glad. Living in the city spring actually marks a very real time of revitalization; revealed not only in the perennials but also in one’s psyche. Face’s become brighter, walk’s become slower, and clothes become lighter.

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-Donna Choi-

As nature becomes new again so can you. This is a great time of year to check in with your body and gauge how healthy you feel. You “spring clean” your house, why should your body be any different?
It all starts with what you are putting in your mouth. There are now an abundance of delicious and intriguing vegetables that have either been missing from or just plain sub-par on the shelves for months. Farmer’s markets will soon again begin. Spend a Saturday strolling down the vendor’s booths, ask questions, get interested! Local farmers are often much more friendly than your average grocery workers. As an added bonus produce that comes from farmer’s markets is local and most often organic. Local meaning your tomato in New York didn’t come from Mexico and Organic meaning “site-specific farming and crop conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” There has been a lot of buzz around the word organic over the past few years. Organic doesn’t necessarily mean healthier or tastier (not scientifically anyway), it is just means they follow certain farming guidelines. Most importantly Synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers are generally not allowed. Even though food is a business I like to think organic produce is manufactured the good ‘ol fashioned way with some grandma and grandpa plowing and sowing.  Still not inspired? Check out below for some tips and tricks on how to make spring produce shine. 

Here are my 5 favorite spring treats

(Yes, a vegetable can be a treat)

and some tips on how to prepare them.

 

Asparagus

If you don’t like asparagus something is wrong with you. Spring finds them to be much more tender than the rest of the year. Beware! If you eat too many your pee smells funny.

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Cut off woody ends about ¼ on an inch. Blanch,boil in salted hot water one min, shock in cold. Toss with olive oil, lemon zest, and salt, roast in 425 oven for 10-12 minutes

Leeks

If onions and garlic had a love child it would be a leek. It would be a very mild mannered child, who filled the house with a lovely smell.

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It seems like a waste but cut off all of the green top. (save for stock-making)

photo 3-2Split length-wise. Wash, sand can often be hiding in the folds. Cut into half rings.

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Sautee with a bit of olive oil over low heat until soft, similar to how you would make caramelized onions. Use these “melted leeks” in scrambled eggs or to top a burger.

Peas

Peas get a bad rap, but fresh peas (yes, they come from a pod) are remarkable. A little bit of work to remove but so worth the effort.

IMG_4938Boil peas until just tender. Sauté in pan with olive oil. Toss with chiffonade basil and mint. If you have a food processor this also makes a lovely puree under fish, just add water to thin.

Watercress

Very hard to find in superior quality. Look for bunches that are not wilted and bright green. Peppery strong taste, but be careful the leaves bruise easily.
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Toss into your favorite salads for a unusual flavor and crisp. Mixes amazingly well in cucumber based salads.

Dill

 If spring had a mascot, dill might be it. It has a certain freshness in it’s taste. It’s unique flavor definitely makes it an herb that takes some getting used to. My mom hates it so I didn’t even know what it tasted like until I was like 15.

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click me for recipe!

Chop. Mix into cream cheese with salt and a drop of lemon juice, spread on a bagel. Even better topped with lox.

 So I hope you take some time in this season of renewal to enjoy at least one of my spring favorites.   Plant growth is truly enchanting. We should be in awe of the plants we have the privilege of eating.  Nature has a way of giving us just what we need at exactly the right time.

 

 

 

 

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my life has been a very interesting journey thus far. in my quarter century crisis im and not certain of much except that i love cooking and entertaining, and pleasing people is my passion. (wait that sounded a little funny) i am goofy eccentric, and love to laugh, in fact i often laugh at the most inappropriate times. i place high value in honesty and working hard. i don’t really believe in faking it until you make it, without some base knowledge or some sort of depth to your cause. i believe in making mistakes and trying everything once as long as you bring yourself no harm and no harm to others. i am a new age hippy, my words to live by are freedom, serenity, and love. i look for signs of the world and listen. i do judge, anyone who says they do not is a liar, but i use my judgements against you to reflect back on me to see how i can better myself. i hate constraints of our society, including grammar, punctuation, and recipes. i think fast except when it comes to numbers. the culinary world has always been and shall be my safe haven and outlet. i want to inspire, teach, and learn.

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