Enjoy these Spring greens…
Broccoli sort of resembles a small green, leafy tree. The top is adorned with a floret, which sits above a small stem. This stem can be eaten; however it should be cut from the larger stalk first. Broccoli has a complex flavor which is hard to describe: an earthy taste complimented by a crunchy texture. There are different types of broccoli. Although it’s often thought of as green, it can sometimes have a purplish hue. This vegetable can be eaten raw or in a dish. Simply try it dipped in a little ranch dressing or saute’ it with olive oil, butter, thyme, salt and pepper. It can also be tasty in an omelet.
Depending on the type, asparagus can be green, white or purple. White asparagus is actually grown underground. This limits the chlorophyll development. The flavor is more subtle than that of the green variety. The texture is also more delicate. The purple variety has a similar flavor but is a little fruitier and it’s noticeably smaller. Asparagus is characterized by a long stem, which narrows as it reaches the “leafy” area. The bottom of the stem is often tough, and should be cut off before eating. However, it’s best not to cut the ends of the asparagus until it’s time to prep. This will help prevent the stalk from drying out. Keep in mind, for the best flavor; serve asparagus within a day or two of purchase. Try asparagus roasted in the oven with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and Parmesan sprinkled over top. If you want a little extra oomph, add a smidge of lemon juice before serving. Asparagus is also excellent stir fried with olive oil, a little butter, sesame seeds, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. But asparagus can also be served cold, as a great addition to a salad.
There are various types of peas, a few of the common ones include: Snow Peas or Chinese Pea Pods, Garden Peas and Sugar Snap Peas.
• Snow Peas/ Chinese Pea Pods: These peas/pods are eaten shell and all. They can be eaten raw or cooked and purchased fresh or frozen. They are excellent in stir-fries. The flavor is sweeter than that of a garden pea.
• Sugar Snap Peas: If a garden pea and a snow pea had a baby, it would be a sugar snap pea. They have a sweeter flavor and the shell can be eaten like the snow pea. However, the shell is plumper than the snow pea. Sugar snap peas are available to purchase frozen or fresh. These crisp and crunchy peas are tasty by themselves or simply dipped in a little ranch dressing. They can also be quite tasty in salads.
• Garden Peas: Garden peas shouldn’t be eaten in whole form. The pea seeds are editable but the shell should be removed. Because of the extra work involved, fresh garden peas are not readily available. They are more often sold in frozen or canned form. However, frozen peas are a better option than canned peas. The flavor and texture of frozen peas are similar to fresh peas, plus canned peas have more sodium.
A good artichoke will be plump, green, and small to medium size. It should also feel heavy in comparison to its size. Keep in mind, larger artichokes often have a weaker flavor and the texture is usually tougher. Artichokes can be cooked by steaming, boiling, or microwaving. There are various ways to eat these vegetables. Try creating a spinach artichoke dip, or serve cooked in a lemon butter sauce. To prepare your artichokes, just cut the stem off and take away any of the tough leaves on the outside. Make sure to trim the remaining leaves at the tips. Once you’ve cooked them, you’ll need to also remove the choke (the fuzzy center) before serving.
Green beans are related to black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans. They are best purchased loose, in order to choose the best quality beans. However, they can also be purchased frozen or canned; although canned will have a higher sodium content and the texture will be softer. They can be eaten raw or cooked. Green beans are tasty sauteed with shitake mushrooms or in a casserole. They are also simply delicious served with salt, pepper, garlic, and butter.
This special ingredient has a hint of sweet flavor with a crunchy texture. It’s often connected with Italian cooking. Fennel has a light green or white bulb. The stalks are superimposed and adorned with feathery leaves. The flowers that grow from the stalks contain fennel seeds. The flavor is similar to anise or black licorice, it’s unusual and aromatic. Fennel can be served sliced up or the seeds can be used as a tasty flavoring. It’s an excellent compliment to Salmon.
Written by Ashley Horst
Photography contributed by A&A Photography
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