Capturing The Freshest Flavors Of Spring

Speedy, Simple Recipes For Light, Refreshing Meals

As days lengthen and soil warms up, it’s hard to stay indoors. My new garden is so enticing that I find myself slipping out to plant “just a few” perennials or grasses or ground-covers. Time slips away and suddenly I’m dirty and wet and tired and hungry. That can be a problem, since it’s easy to snarf the wrong stuff, an issue best handled by not having the wrong stuff around (!). Happily, spring is the perfect time for quick and simple meals that smell and taste delicious without frills or fuss.

Of course, this approach only works when the ingredients are practically perfect. Fresh, local and organically grown produce needs very little help, I find, and simplicity suits it well. If you find forgotten veg in the fridge that is no longer pristine but still ok, try roasting it (400 degrees F for 20 minutes usually does it) with a little avocado oil. This silky, mild oil doesn’t burn despite high temps and doesn’t have a distinctive flavor of its own, so the vegetable essence sings out. Add a little sea salt or a splash of coconut aminos and the result is pleasing indeed.

Roasted Asparagus With Cherry Tomatoes

I love the way plump little cherry bombs burst in your mouth when roasted, and the treatment brings out the best in asparagus as well. I know, not exactly seasonal, but so irresistible!

1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
1 pound asparagus spears, stem ends snapped
1 cup whole organic cherry tomatoes
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons soft goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Pour oil into a rimmed baking sheet, add asparagus spears and cherry tomatoes and rub lightly to coat. Sprinkle with salt and roast at 400 F until barely tender (5-6 minutes). Serve hot, sprinkled with goat cheese. Serves 2-4.

Crunchy Asparagus With Garlic & Almonds

With crusty olive bread and some sharp cheese, this crunchy, garlicky dish makes a light meal for two or a savory side for four.

1 pound asparagus spears, stem ends snapped
1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons slivered almonds

Steam asparagus over boiling water for 3 minutes, remove from steamer and plunge into cold water for 3 minutes, then drain and set aside. In a wide, shallow pan, combine oil, garlic, salt, paprika and almonds over medium high heat and cook, stirring, until gently golden (2-3 minutes). Add asparagus, roll to coat and serve, topped with pan sauce, garlic and nuts. Serves 2-4.

Raw Asparagus Salad With Fresh Pea Tendrils

A lunch or brunch favorite at my house, this bright, fresh salad disappears at light speed. Delicately flavored mushrooms would be lost in this dish, but ordinary ones become velvety and richly flavorful.

1 pound asparagus spears, stem ends snapped
1 cup thinly sliced crimini or button mushrooms
1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
1/2 organic lemon, juiced, rind grated
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup fresh pea vine tendrils

Slice asparagus thinly on the diagonal and gently toss with mushrooms, oil, 1/4 teaspoon lemon rind and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, then season to taste with salt and remaining lemon juice. Let stand 20-30 minutes (or up to an hour), toss with pea vine tendrils and serve. Serves 2-4.

Asparagus With Capers & Hazelnuts

1 pound asparagus spears, stem ends snapped
1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons drained capers
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
1/4 cup coarsely chopped, roasted hazelnuts

Steam asparagus over boiling water for 3 minutes, remove from steamer and gently toss with oil, vinegar, capers, salt and paprika. Serve warm, topped with hazelnuts. Serves 2-4.

Spring Bliss!

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