The temperatures continue to rise and we hope this means chilly days are well behind us. We’re welcoming spring with open arms, and with that comes the tasty vegetables of this season’s bounty. Enjoying produce in its peak season not only gives you the fullest flavor, but also the most nutritional benefits. We love how easy it is to highlight the flavors of spring with just a few additions. Simple pantry staples such as olive oil, lemons, and salt, combined with more unique ingredients, can create delicious, nutritious salads and side dishes from this season’s fresh vegetables.
- Broccoli: Broccoli is at its best when its head is “tight” and dark green, even with a hint of purple. Cut the broccoli into florets, toss with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. While the broccoli is in the oven, whisk together a tahini sauce made with tahini, lemon juice, and garlic to drizzle over the florets. The toasted sesame of the tahini is a nice balance to the roasted, yet slightly bitter broccoli. For a twist on tartness, swap out the lemon juice for pomegranate molasses.
- Asparagus: Asparagus is ripe for picking when it is bright green with no shriveling in the stalks. Snap the woody bottoms off the stems and season with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and za’atar. Roast for 15 minutes in the oven or cook for just a few minutes on each side if grilling. Each za’atar blend will bring its own distinctive flavor, but all will similarly add earthy, herby, and savory notes to the asparagus. Sumac is another great pair with asparagus for something a little brighter.
- Fennel: Fennel is ready for harvest when the bulbs are about the size of a tennis ball. Fennel is often paired with zucchini. Shave the fennel and use a peeler to create zucchini “ribbons.” Pair these vegetables with dukkah, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper for a refreshing change to the typical salad. The mild flavor of zucchini is countered by the anise-like taste of fennel and the dukkah brings spicy and salty elements.
- Green Beans: Green beans are ready to pick when they are about the width of a pencil and feel firm. Try stir-frying green beans with Rosemary Infused Olive Oil, salt, and minced garlic. The touches of rosemary and garlic add delightful aromatics to the string beans.
- Avocado: We know; technically avocados are fruit, but they’re healthy and green so we’re adding them to this list because frankly, a ripe, creamy avocado is too good to pass up. Press gently on the outside of the avocado, and it if gives ever so slightly, it’s ready for eating. The best part? All you have to do is cut it in half and season. We love to use freshly-ground Chili Sea Salt Za’atar—its spicy, tangy kick enhances a muted avocado nicely.
So, are you ready to head to the farmers market? Whatever fresh haul you bring home, be sure your pantry is stocked with high-quality ingredients that will make your meals shine. Stay tuned for more seasonal dish ideas as we move through spring and into summer. Happy cooking!