While spring won’t have officially sprung until March 20, the weather sure has us believing otherwise! St. Patty’s Day just passed, which kicked off my family enjoying many of the fresh green foods that are in season right now.
I can honestly say that traditional Irish fair does not make it to the favorites list at our house, so instead of Irish stew or corned beef and cabbage, we will be enjoying some of the many green foods that are in season right now.
Cool spring weather is the best time to enjoy many vegetables including artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, peas, leafy greens and spinach.
We enjoy artichokes steamed in the microwave, and served with lemon butter or a lemon garlic aioli. Asparagus is another favorite, also steamed, then squirted with some lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Baby spinach leaves are very tender and make a great salad. Pair with fresh berries (also in season right now), goat or feta cheese, toasted pine nuts and a raspberry balsamic vinaigrette and you have one amazing salad that is not only delicious but packed with antioxidants and iron.
It is also time to start planting those herb gardens! Start with potting seeds or young plants and keep them in a sunny spot inside until night time temperatures are above freezing. Chives, parsley, cilantro, thyme, rosemary and basil really enhance the flavor of many dishes, and you can’t beat the flavor of fresh versus dried herbs.
Basil is my hands-down favorite herb! As soon as I can get a good-sized bunch growing, I like to make pesto. Tossed with grilled chicken and pasta, it is our favorite green dish!
It also freezes really well. If you find yourself with basil that needs to be used up, make a batch of pesto and pour into ice cube trays. After it freezes completely, transfer the cubes to freezer bags. The cubes are easy to pull out as needed to add to pasta and soup. Pesto is also a great sandwich spread.
There are many variations for making pesto; my favorite recipe happens to be the one that came with my Cuisinart food processor many, many moons ago! (If you don’t have a food processor, you can make pesto in a blender as well.)
- 4 oz. Parmesan cheese, at room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces.
- 4 small garlic cloves
- 2 2/3 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup olive oil
Place cheese and garlic in food processor and process for about 30 seconds. Add all remaining ingredients except olive oil and process until combined (about 8 pulses). With machine running, pour oil through feed tube. Process until combined, about 10 seconds. Scrape bowl and continue processing until smooth, about 20 seconds. Pesto will keep for 5 days in a refrigerator.
Happy spring greens!