Springtimeby Laura Leff
On Saturdays HSK will publish an article on diet, nutrition and general well-being, written by nutritional consultant and chef, Laura B. Leff. Know why? because a healthy body with a spiritual mind is a blessed soul.
Spring is upon us; the much awaited time of year when flowers are abundant, lovers walk hand in hand on sun-kissed days, the sun sets later in the day…allowing more time to play, and the farmers’ markets fill up with delicious produce. As most of us know, eating in season is the most natural and nutritional way to eat. Seasonal eating provides you with the most nutritionally-dense foods, rendering the body with all it’s goodness when eaten! Being that our world is so globalized, sometimes it’s difficult to know what foods are in season and which ones are being shipped in from various parts of the world. Therefore, I’d like to let you in on what’s made for eatin’ this time of year, followed with some preparation tips.
Artichokes: Steaming is the easiest method of cooking for artichokes. First trim the artichoke. Then bring about 1/2 inch of water to boil in a deep enough pan to hold the artichoke. Add a teaspoon of salt to the boiling water. The artichoke should just barely sit in the water, not submerged. Put a lid on the pan and reduce heat to let simmer for about 30 mintues. You’ll know when the artichoke is done when a leaf from the middle is easily picked. It could take up to 45 minutes, depending on the size. Once it’s done, artichokes are delicious just simply dipped in melted butter or one of your favorite dips.
Arugula: I am such a fan of this bitter green. Arugula can spice and green up so many dishes. Eat it with your eggs in the morning. Stuff it inside a sandwich. Eat an arugula salad. Toss it in pasta salad. Use it as a garnish on soup.
Asparagus: Ahh, roasted asparagus, it’s delicious and easy to prepare. After washing the spears and patting them dry, just toss them with a little olive oil and salt and pop them into a preheated 400 degree oven, anywhere from 8- 12 minutes depending on the size of the spears. Check them around 8 minutes to make sure you aren’t overcooking them. You want them to still be crispy. Asparagus is great as a side dish, on top of a salad, and so good paired up with some warm goat cheese.
Fava Beans: Fava beans are so delectable and take a little patience and lovin’, but so worth it! Check out this link for an easy, delicious recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/gabriel-s-sauteed-fava-beans-117520
Green garlic: Green garlic is an immature garlic and looks similar to scallions. The tasty part is the whitish bulb at the top of the stalk. It has a much milder and sweeter flavor compared to garlic, so it may be used liberally. It’s great raw, added to salad, sauteed and added on top of meat or cooked and added into soup.
Kiwis: Kiwi is such a special fruit with a very unique flavor. It’s awesome solo, mixed in a fruit salad, blended into a smoothie, or in salad.
Morel Mushrooms: These are a very delicate mushroom that are usually harvested in the beginning of Spring. They are delicious simply sauteed with butter or mixed into your favorite pasta dish. When purchasing, they should feel tough and not bruised. The darker the mushroom, the smokier and nuttier it will taste. Don’t forget to give them a light scrub and rinse before cooking.
Nettles: View nettles as young spinach. So anything you’d normally add spinach to, use nettles in the same manner. Add it to eggs (quiche, frittata), pasta dishes, soups, etc. Nettles also contains plant chemicals that help combat allergies that are common during Springtime.
New potatoes: Toss the new potatoes with olive oil, fresh rosemary and salt and roast them in a 450 degree oven for about 45 minutes. They may also be boiled and smashed.
Navel Oranges: Delicious on their own or on top of salad.
Pea greens: Pea greens are the young vines of pea plants. They are delicious simply sauteed in olive oil, a bit of salt and a squeeze of lemon, when they’re done. Cook for about 6 minutes on medium heat.
Peas (snap/snow/pea pods): Snap peas can be eaten whole and raw or sauteed a bit. Snow peas are usually found in stir fry dishes. Pea pods, also known as garden peas or English peas, must be shelled before eaten, so they require a little more effort. However, they are they sweetest variety and the most nutrient-dense. They may be eaten raw, steamed or used in a soup (Split pea soup).
Strawberries: Mmm…delicious strawberries. These are perfect solo, soaked in a little balsamic and served with basil, added into a salad, made into a strawberry shortcake, or in a smoothie.
So, there you have it! Why are you still reading? Head to the farmer’s market and get yourself some Springtime food! Happy Eating!
Laura B. Leff, Nutritional Consultant and Chef