Recipe Round-up: Late Spring Veggies 
Monday, May 26, 2014
LifeTime WeightLoss in Healthy Cooking, Jennifer Wannen, Jennifer Wannen Zotalis, Recipes, Vegetables, eating more vegetables, healthy eating, recipes, seasonal eating, spring

While mid-summer bounty garners the most attention, late spring delivers plenty of tasty, nutrient-dense vegetables we can incorporate into our Healthy Way of Eating. These months deliver the first tempting crops of greens, herbs, onions and other “early” veggies. While these days we certainly have the luxury of never being limited to what's in season locally, eating seasonally can encourage us to experiment with new foods - particularly with produce. Whether you're looking to up your veggie intake or interested in trying out more seasonal fare, check out this four-course, spring-oriented menu - from soup to (pine) nuts. 

Spring Greens with Early Peas, Pine Nuts and Pesto

Ingredients:

Directions:

Saute pine nuts over low heat with unrefined, heat-stable fat for 3-4 minutes. Cook peas with small amount of water and butter. Add to bed of greens. Mix in favorite pesto and add grated cheese if desired. 

Easy Pesto: 

Put 1 cup of fresh basil leaves, 3/4 Tbsp. chopped garlic, 1 Tbsp. pine nuts, 1/4 tsp. sea salt, and 1/3 cup olive oil in a small blender or food processor, and puree. Store remaining pesto in refrigerator, or freeze in ice cube trays/freezer containers.

Leek and Cauliflower Soup

Potato-leek soup is one of my personal favorites. The problem is, in most recipes it's primarily potato. While there are certainly many worse things to eat, moderating our carb intake makes for better weight - and energy - management. Instead of taking this favorite off the menu, I sought out a substitute ingredient. While cauliflower isn't by any stretch the only option, I find it's the easiest and quickest. Steam it up while the leeks are in the saute pan, and you're good to go within 15 minutes total. (Bonus: no peeling potatoes!) 

If you're looking to batch cook, however, I'd recommend something other than cauliflower, since cauliflower gets more "pungent" in leftovers with each passing day. Peel, cut up and roast some rutabaga with sea salt and a little unrefined, heat-resistant fat for a very rich and flavorful ingredient that will allow your soup to "store" better. If you don't mind the extra work, experiment and see which taste you prefer. 

Ingredients:

Directions: 

Cut very bottom and top medium/dark green areas off of leeks. Chop remaining white and light green part of stalk into small pieces. Saute pieces in olive oil over low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, cut stems off of cauliflower and steam florets for 5 minutes. Put cooked leeks, steamed cauliflower and 2 cups chicken stock into blender and pulse until pureed. Return to pot, stir in 1/2 tsp. thyme and desired sea salt. Warm over low-medium heat if necessary, and enjoy!

Celery Root Risotto with Chicken and Early Peas

For me, rice is one of the grains I miss the most. I’ve tried cauliflower rice but wanted something without the same pungency. I find celery root (a.k.a. celeriac) to be a mild tasting and flexible substitute. (It also stores better than cauliflower rice.) Although it easily takes on other ingredients' flavors, it has a slight celery-like taste on its own. With that in mind, I find it works well for a lower carb tuna cassarole as well. 

Ingredients:

Directions:

Roast chicken at 350 degrees. Cool and shred meat if desired. 

Cut off outside skin of celery root. Grate root. Alternatively, an easier approach is to chop the root into cubes and pulse in a food processor. The finer you grate/chop it, the faster it will cook, but consider what texture you're going for (e.g. smooth and creamy or more substantial). Chop 1/2 yellow onion. Saute chopped celery root with 1/2-3/4 cup chicken stock. (Put in just enough for stock to cover root risotto.) If you've grated or chopped it finely (e.g. couscous style), throw in chopped onion and saute for 5-6 minutes. Sample and see if it's tender enough for your preference. Otherwise, throw in yellow onion after first 5 minutes and cook an additional 5-7 minutes. Again, the key is to keep sampling as you go. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.

Cook frozen peas in just enough water to avoid burning. I suggest adding a 1/2 tsp butter as well. Serve up individual bowls of risotto. Add peas and chicken, and top with parmesan if desired.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Puree with Cream

Finally, what would late spring and early summer be without strawberries and rhubarb? Most of us grew up with this classic combination in pies, but the carb content of traditional crusts might make us shy away from enjoying this fruit-veggie combination. (Yup, rhubarb is actually a vegetable. Who knew?) Consider this way to enjoy all the taste without all the carbs. 

Ingredients:

Directions:

Cut rhubarb into small 1 inch cubes and boil with small amount of water for approximately 5 minutes. Cut 2/3 of the strawberries into smaller chunks. Puree cooked rhubarb and cut strawberries in blender or food processor. Spoon into cups/bowls. 

Add vanilla and (if desired) very small amount of stevia powder (1/4 tsp.) to cream, and whip until stiff peaks appear. Spoon on top of rhubarb-berry puree. Garish with sliced strawberries and almond slices.

What are your favorite late spring/early summer produce varieties? Offer up your seasonal suggestions and tips, and thanks for reading, everyone!

Written by Jennifer Wannen, Content Manager

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

 

 

 

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