Vegetables of the Season

Introduction

Spring is the season when more fresh vegetables begin to arrive at the market. Although nowadays many vegetables are available year-round, each does in fact have its peak season.

Vegetables that are abundant right now, or will soon be coming to fruition, include artichokes, asparagus, green beans, okra, broccoli, cauliflower, newly harvested radishes, carrots and beets, and a variety of greens. Take every opportunity to purchase vegetables that are locally grown; they offer the highest nutrition and the freshest taste. Prices also tend to be lower during this period of plenty.

Vegetables are prized not only for their excellent food value, but also for their variety. Their diversity of color, texture and taste can make any meal a delight. Unfortunately, improper cooking methods such as boiling have ruined the reputation of many vegetables. We find steaming, stewing, baking and stir-frying are the best techniques for having vegetables turn out tender but still crisp. The following recipes adhere to this advice, and in spite of their simplicity, are likely to win the cook may compliments.

Sesame Green Beans

1 pound green beans
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
salt and pepper

Steam the beans for 5 to 8 minutes, until tender but still crunchy.

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet for a few minutes until aromatic.

Transfer the warm beans to a serving bowl and toss with the lemon juice, sesame oil, toasted seeds, and salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4

Carrots with Sunflower Seeds

6 medium carrots
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup sunflower seeds

Scrub the carrots and peel only if necessary. Slice into thin rounds.

Combine carrots with water in a small pot, bring to boil, cover and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the soy sauce and sunflower seeds. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until moisture evaporates.

Serves 4

Roast Asparagus and Peppers

1 pound asparagus
2 sweet red or yellow peppers
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat the broiler.

Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus. Cut the pepper into ½-inch-wide strips, discarding the seeds and trimming any thick ribs.

Place the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet. Broil 5 to 6 inches from the heat for 8 to 12 minutes, turning several times, until tender and lightly charred.

Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the balsamic vinegar. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4

Creamy Country-Style Greens

1½ pounds Swiss chard, collard greens, beet greens, spinach or romaine lettuce
6 ounces mushrooms
¾ cup coarsely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¾ cup YoChee (To learn about non-fat YoChee click here)
salt and pepper

Wash the greens well, remove any tough stems and cut crosswise into ½-wide strips. You should have 12 to 16 cups.

Clean the mushrooms and slice the caps and stems. You should have about 2 cups.

In a pot large enough to hold the greens, cook the mushrooms over moderate heat for 5 to 8 minutes, until they wilt and begin to release their juices.

Add the red onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the greens and mix gently until they being to wilt and cook down. Cover the pot and cook over low heat for 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the greens, until tender.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and YoChee. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4 to 6

Crispy Fried Beets

1 pound beets
oil or butter
lemon wedge

Scrub the beets and peel only if skin is tough.

Shred in a food processor or hand grater.

Heat enough oil or butter to just cover the surface of a skillet or wok. When hot, add the shredded beets and stir-fry for 3 to 5 minutes. Beet should retain their crispness.

Season lightly with lemon juice and serve hot.

Serves 4

Stewed Artichokes, Greek Style

8 baby artichokes
¼ cup olive oil
1 small onion, chopped or 3 scallions, sliced
1 large bunch dill
2 cups cooked chick peas, drained
½ teaspoon salt (omit if beans are salted)
pepper

Cut the artichokes in half. Peel any stems lightly and cut into sticks.

Heat oil in a skillet or 1½ to 2-quart pot. Add artichokes, onion or scallions and dill, cover and stew over low heat for 10 minutes or until artichokes are just tender.

Add the chickpeas, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook 5 to 10 minutes longer, until well heated and quite tender.

Serve hot or lukewarm.

Serves 4

Recipes from the Nikki & David Goldbeck’s American Wholefoods Cuisine, Eat Well the YoChee Way and The Healthiest Diet in the World. ©