When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring greens

I washed all the winter snowsuits, hats, and mittens this weekend and put them away -- hooray! While I realize I'm probably asking Mother Nature for a spring snowstorm with that fact, the glorious sunshine and warm temperatures we've been enjoying the past couple of days, plus the happy little green shoots emerging everywhere around our yard, make me hopeful that spring has arrived for good. The weather has inspired me to think green in the kitchen as well, and while we still have a couple of months before fresh local produce is available, I've been incorporating the tastes of spring into our family meals wherever I can.

This delicious green salad is crisp and satisfying, with tart green apples, crunchy carrots and celery, and a hint of maple syrup's sweetness in the dressing. It matches nicely with ham or turkey and would be lovely with Easter brunch or dinner.

For the salad:

romaine lettuce, washed and torn
red leaf lettuce, washed and torn
celery, thinly sliced
carrot, grated
Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced then diced
toasted walnut pieces

Add desired quantities of lettuce, celery, carrot, and apple to a salad bowl.

For the dressing:

1 tbsp real maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Whisk all dressing ingredients together and drizzle over salad. Toss gently. Sprinkle walnuts over top and serve. Enjoy!

One of my other favourite spring "greens" is asparagus, and Matt and I think that the best way to prepare it is by grilling the spears on the barbecue. If you get it just right, the asparagus comes out tender crisp and deliciously flavourful.

To grill this green vegetable:

Preheat the barbecue at a medium heat. Wash asparagus spears and remove the woody ends of the stems.
In a shallow dish, toss asparagus with a small amount of olive oil, and season with sea salt and pepper to taste.
Cook spears directly on the hot grill for 4-6 minutes (depending on the thickness of the stems), turning once halfway through cooking time.
Remove asparagus from the grill onto a serving dish, then drizzle a mixture of freshly squeezed orange and lemon juices over top. Sprinkle a bit of orange and lemon zest over asparagus and serve.

Asparagus with citrus seems just right for an Easter meal; we also enjoy it frequently this time of year with grilled chicken or pork tenderloin.

The fact that in the next couple of months I'll be out planting my own veggies again makes me incredibly happy. Until then, I'll keep thinking green and brightening up our meals with all the fresh spring flavours I can find.

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