Spring herbs and vegetables are the beginning of a wonderful journey your garden will take you on, especially for first time gardeners.
Here are some simple tips and recipes to use the fresh bounty from your spring garden:
Asparagus: Harvest your asparagus stems when they are at least as thick as your index finger. Pick your asparagus every other day or even daily to keep the roots producing. Blanching your fresh asparagus until it is just tender and crisp is a good way to start. With this method it can be served plain, with butter, or simple with salt and pepper.
Asparagus pairs very well with eggs and cheese, making it ideal for cheese sauces, quiches and frittatas. Try the simple frittata recipe below when asparagus is in top production. (Note the frittata features basil too, which is also ‘growing like a weed’ right now!)
Snow Peas: Snow peas are also a spring vegetable that can yield a bounty from your garden. I plant a string-less variety. You should pick them when they are small, when they are just making their peas. The snow pea shoots and flowers are a wonderful crunchy addition to green salads.
Snow Peas and Green Peas
Snow peas are wonderful raw, blanched or stir fried. This recipe gives you a great cool salad that is quick and delicious. It uses radishes and scallions which are also spring vegetables.
Green peas are getting toward the end of the season where I live, but folks in cooler areas are just seeing them come in.
Pick green peas when just podding, and use the tender baby peas raw in salads. To make the salad below, use just-mature podded peas. Harvest in the morning and make the salad for lunch or dinner–you can use them raw. If you must keep them over a day, shell just before cooking, and cook until just tender. Otherwise, the peas will turn starchy.
Recipes are below. Tell us how you use your spring vegetables! What’s coming in where you live? How do you preserve your favorites?
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 potatoes, shredded
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup diced ham
1 Tablespoon milk
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded white Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C). Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; cook and stir the shredded potato and onion in the hot oil until the potatoes begin to brown, about 5 minutes – season onion mixture with salt and pepper.
Add the asparagus and ham and continue cooking until the asparagus is tender, another 5 to 7 minutes; transfer to the prepared baking dish.
Whisk the eggs and milk together in a small bowl; pour evenly over potato, ham and asparagus. Scatter the cheeses over the top.
Bake in the preheated oven until set in the middle, 20 to 25 minutes. Garnish with the basil to serve. Serves 6.
Snow Pea and Shrimp Salad
12 ounces snow peas
1 1/4 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 radishes, halved and thinly sliced into half-moons
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Special equipment: steamer colander/basket
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Insert steamer basket, and add snow peas to basket. Cover, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the basket from the pan and transfer the snow peas to a bowl of ice water to cool. When cool, remove from ice water and pat dry.
Add the shrimp directly to the saucepan of water and return to a boil; cook for 2 minutes, or until pink and opaque. Drain, and plungthe shrimp into bowl of ice water to cool. When cool, remove from ice water and pat dry.
Slice each shrimp in half lengthwise. Cut the snow peas diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces, discarding the ends. In a large bowl, toss the shrimp, snow peas, radishes and scallions.
In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, both of the oils, the ginger and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss with peas and shrimp right before serving; top with sesame seeds. Serves 4.