Spring is such an exciting time because lots of beautiful vegetables come into season. Next week the Logan Square Farmer's Market starts and I cannot wait! Here are a few side dishes I've concocted over the past week or two using spring veggies.
LEMON-TAHINI BABY BOK CHOY
Baby bok choy is one of my favorite vegetables, one I buy every single time I get to Whole Foods. The taste is a little more subtle than the full-grown bok choy, less spicy. What I like most is that you can cook the entire leaf without cutting it up because they're small, so they fit in a pan, and the stems aren't too thick. I first made this dish for breakfast alongside steel-cut oats. The next time I made it I added some garlic and paired it with a homemade spicy chickpea soup and brown rice. I think it complemented the spices really well, almost like a tzatziki sauce. Serves 2.
1 head baby bok choy, separated and rinsed
2 tsp olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic
1 tbs tahini
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs water
1/4 tsp salt
1. Whisk together tahini, lemon juice, water, and salt.
2. Heat oil to medium-high heat in a wok or frying pan. Add the biggest leaves and stir-fry for a few seconds, then the medium leaves, then the small leaves. Add garlic. Stirfry 1-2 minutes until greens are soft and stems are a little browned.
3. Turn off heat and immediately pour lemon-tahini dressing over the bok choy in the pan. Stir to coat. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
CARROTS AND CARROT TOPS
Ever bought a beautiful bunch of carrots with the greens still attached and not known what to do with them? Well, now you know you can eat them! If not using the tops it is important to remove the greens right away. The greens will continue to leech nutrients out of the carrots, so your carrots will go bad quickly. That being said, if you are eating the tops, they should still be removed, but use them within a day or two of purchase. Carrot-tops don't stay fresh long. I love this dish because it is so bright and colorful and can really add to an otherwise bland looking meal. You could add onion and/or garlic or use tamari instead of salt if you wanted to add more flavor, but the dish really doesn't need it. If I was cooking for a crowd, I'd have used the whole bunch of carrots and tops, but these portions were meant for one.
2 medium carrots, sliced diagonally into quarter-inch coins
4 carrot tops and stems, roughly chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp freshly grated ginger juice (optional)
toasted sesame seeds (optional)
1. Heat oil to medium-high heat. Sautee carrots for 5-7 minutes or until they start to brown.
2. Add greens and sautee for about 1 minute.
3. Stir in salt and about 2 tsp water. Immediately cover, reduce heat to low, and steam for about 30 seconds or until greens are tender. Remove lid and turn off heat. Add ginger juice and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.
Asparagus is the epitome of spring vegetables because it is usually the first green thing to appear out of the frozen ground. This recipe comes from a cookbook created by my college co-op. What started out as "Dad's No-Fail Asparagus" (a recipe from my friend Hesper's dad) quickly became shortened to "Dad Asparagus" around the house. This recipe is simple, really delicious, and truely "no fail." Last week I served it at a good-bye dinner party for a friend paired with veggie burgers and salad. This week I paired it with spring rolls and peanut sauce. It goes with everything. The recipe below is the original cook-book recipe, but 2 lbs of asparagus really serves a crowd. I usually use 1 or 1/2 lb asparagus and slightly less Earth Balance and tamari.
2 lbs asparagus, ends trimmed
2 Tbs Earth Balance
2 tsp tamari
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Coat baking tray with oil, spread asparagus in a single layer, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for about 12 minutes or until tender.
3. Melt Earth Balance in a small skillet on medium-low heat for about 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from heat and stir in tamari and vinegar.
4. When asparagus is done, drizzle buttery mixture over the asparagus as soon as it comes out of the oven. Serve immediately.