Wednesday, April 13, 2011

5 Garden Vegetable Recipes to Dig Into...

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I wish I had more of a green thumb. The closest I got was managing herbs I had growing in an Aerogarden. But who knows... now with a big backyard at my disposal, I may get inspired and start planting. But until then, I'm thankful I have some great produce readily available at local grocery stores. If you've been eyeing some spring produce in your stores, here are 5 Garden Vegetable Recipes to Dig Into and may inspire you to eat with the season!

Asparagus: This vegetable's peak season is April through late June. Look for stalks with a smooth skin, a uniform color and a dry, compact tip. Avoid if the stems are fibrous and/or the stalks are shriveled because those are signs of age. To store, I stand my asparagus upright in a large glass or container filled with water.



Green Onions/Scallions: These are interchangeable however scallions or spring onions are more developed than green onions. Scallions also have a milder flavor and a more tender texture. Look for healthy dark green tops on the onions. Avoid green onions and scallions that are dry, wilted or have slimy tops.


Green Peas: These are best served when fresh picked. Often times, frozen peas are a perfect substitution for fresh and are quick to prepare as well. If buying fresh, look for crisp, medium-sized bright green pods. Avoid full and oversized pods because the peas tend to be too starchy. Fresh peas should be crisp and slightly sweet. Most frozen peas are shelled, blanched and frozen which is a great time convenience!


Spinach:
When looking for fresh spinach, choose bunches that are dark green and crisp. Avoid bunches that are limp, damaged or spotted. These leaves often hide quite a bit of grit and dirt so be sure to rinse them thoroughly before using. I use a salad spinner to to rinse off but you can also clean them in a sink. Simply fill your sink or large container with cold water. Submerge the spinach leaves in the water and swish around so the grit and dirt fall to the bottom. To dry, blot with paper towels. Buying already pre-washed spinach is a great time saver!

Leeks: Look for slender, straight leeks. Leeks more than about 1 1/2 inches wide tend to have tough inner cores. The top green leaves should look fresh - avoid leeks with wilted or yellowing tops. Like the spinach, these are full of grit and dirt so it's important to clean them thoroughly before using. Split the leeks down the middle vertically and spread open the layers under running water. Rinse off the grit and dirt before using. And to use, it's the bottom white part of the stalk that has the best flavor. The darker green tops can be bitter.
 

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