Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spring Veggie Extravaganza

We're obviously without-garden this year, but many of my dear friends are either avid gardeners or badass farmers and on the hunt for new and exciting things to do with their boatloads of veggies this spring.  So, today I have three simple and wonderful ideas for three seasonal favorites: artichokes, asparagus and arugula.  Even if you don't have these veggies sprouting up outside your door, they may be what are freshest and most tasty at your market right now, so give these a try!
We looooove artichokes, and with a bit of prep work, they're a snap to make.  Elise at Simply Recipes does a perfect job of explaining, step by step, how to properly trim and cook an artichoke.  My suggestion is for a fabulous dipping sauce, and all credit must be given to my equally fabulous friend Brian for this one; every recipe I've ever stolen from him is to die for. To make Brian's famed dipping sauce (enough for about 4 artichokes), mix 2 finely-minced garlic cloves with a half-cup of mayonnaise and about 3 tablespoons of red wine.  Add a bit of salt and pepper and adjust the wine and seasonings to taste.  The resulting sauce is a gorgeous purple color thanks to the wine, and has just the right amount of bite from the raw garlic (just don't plan on doing any smoochin' after this dinner).  This takes minutes to whip up, but tastes gourmet, and makes a stunning presentation with the violet-hued sauce next to the bright green steamed 'chokes.  An instant classic. Love ya, Bri.
The best thing to do with seasonal vegetables is to just not mess with them too much.  They are bursting with so much fresh, pure flavor, why not let that shine through?  This is the case with our grilled asparagus. When you have the grill lit for dinner, throw on asparagus make a delicious and easy side dish.  Trim the ends, and toss the stalks with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a hint of garlic powder.  Cook them for about 5 minutes on the grill, turning often to prevent burning.  Finish them with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice when they come off the grill.  We've been eating these at least twice a week, and no one is tired of them yet!
Finally, arugula. As I've mentioned before, our local pizza joint makes the most incredible prosciutto, balsamic fig jam, Great Hill Blue Cheese and fresh arugula pizza, but if that sounds too fussy for your weeknight, why not try a pared down version?  Buy a pizza dough.  Pre-heat your oven to 450.  Roll out your dough, brush it with olive oil, layer on your favorite cheese (a soft gouda could be particularly dreamy) and bake for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, toss the arugula with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Add it to the top and bake for another 10 minutes.  For extra points, you could add chopped prosciutto and/or chopped fresh tomatoes or carmelized onions when you add the arugula.  Pop open a bottle of red, and enjoy.
What's your favorite spring recipe?


  1. oo la la! thanks smj... you're the best.

  2. Any suggestions for radishes, other than in salad? I've got radishes out the wazoo!!!

  3. try this, kel:
    looks yum.