On Your Table: Spring greens are on the scene

Your local framers market is filled with fresh local veggies

By Cathy Branciaroli, Food Correspondent, The Times

Green hues of spring vegetables make for bright, light salads Photo courtesy of Once Upon a Chef

Green hues of spring vegetables make for bright, light salads Photo courtesy of Once Upon a Chef.

Spring, now that it finally appears to be here, is the season to lighten up after cooking comforting, hearty dishes all winter long.  And, with Earth Day just upon us, budding trees remind us of the coming season.

A visit to the local farmers’ market or grocer shows the sudden abundance of fresh, green veggies. And they are so easy to prepare, with versatile seasonal vegetables like sweet peas, crisp asparagus, and luscious artichokes. The fresh crop of spring produce will lighten any meal.

Particularly appealing is local asparagus, which is to spring what pumpkin is to fall: it’s versatile, delicious. Although available everywhere year-long from California, Peru or Chile all year long. Local stalks are most intense, fresher, and tastier when they are found in your local farmers’ markets. For most preparations, the delicate texture of tender asparagus spears makes them great for salads and even eaten raw. But the thicker ones do have their place; they stand up better to cooking methods like grilling.

Now’s the time to try recipes that take vegetables into new territory. Most folks steam or boil vegetables such as asparagus for a side dish or cut up radishes raw for salads. But either of these two along with many other vegetables taste awesomely different when roasted. The carmelization of roasting brings out flavor and in the case of radishes or brussel sprouts, softens their sometimes tart flavors. You will never go back to steaming again.

Just pour a tablespoon or two of olive oil into a zip lock bag along with a sprinkle of your favorite spices. Add the vegetable and give a shake. Then place the produce on a sheet pan in a 400 degree oven. In 10 minutes or so remove from oven and serve.

For a more traditional yet stripped down spring dish, try a simple yet delicious salad of seasonal produce. This salad’s green hues and bright layers of flavor give an instant taste of spring and it looks as good as it tastes.

Pea Salad with Mint

(serves 4 as a side dish)



3/4 pound shelled spring peas

½ head Boston lettuce or other tender lettuce cut into ½ inch strips

½ pound roasted asparagus spears mixed with sliced radishes

2 tbs olive oil to coat asparagus and radishes

4-5 mint leaves chopped or cut into a chiffonade

½ cup shaved parmesan cheese

For dressing – 3 tbs olive oil, 1 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice, fresh ground pepper, sprinkle of salt



Immerse peas on large sauce pan of boiling water lightly salted.   Add peas and turn off heat. Let peas sit 10~ minutes till tender. Rinse and drain. Roast asparagus and radishes. Combine ingredients in large bowl. In another bowl, whisk dressing ingredients. Pour onto salad and toss to coat. Let sit a few minutes to absorb flavors. Top with shaved cheese and serve.

Cathy Branciaroli also writes about her adventures in the kitchen on her award-winning blog Delaware Girl Eats

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