Spring's Bounty: Fresh & Simple Sides
By ChrisGarboski on March 12, 2011
Spring’s Bounty: Fresh & Simple Sides
I know it’s not officially spring until March 20, but in sunny SoCal, we sure got a taste of it today! It has actually been unseasonably cold lately, so when it hit 70 degrees, my kids and I headed to our local Farmer’s Market and local farm. We came home with so much produce – perhaps a little too much! I could hardly wait to get roasting. For me, this is the most simple way to prepare vegetables.
Asparagus and pesto complement each other so well in pasta, so why not roast asparagus with pesto? Fresh lemon peel and lemon juice add just the zing this recipe needs, so don’t skip it. Nutritionally speaking, asparagus has lots of dietary fiber to keep your digestive system in good order. It’s also a good source of folate and vitamin C.
Ingredients needed for 4 servings:
- 1 bunch (about 1 pound) fresh asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed (about 12 to 14 spears total)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons BUITONI Refrigerated All Natural Pesto with Basil
- 1 lemon
- BUITONI Refrigerated Freshly Shredded Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 400° F. Place asparagus and pesto in large resealable food storage bag; press out air and seal shut. Massage pesto onto asparagus until it is fully coated. Remove from bag and place in single layer on baking sheet.
Roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Grate lemon peel over asparagus; squeeze with a little lemon juice. Top with a sprinkle of cheese. Serve immediately.
With many vegetables, cooking destroys some of their vitamins, but this isn’t the case with carrots. You can absorb more beta carotene from cooked carrots than from raw ones. If you like garlic, add a few peeled whole cloves to the mix.
Ingredients needed for 4 servings:
- 2 pounds small- to medium-size carrots
- 1 cup sliced shallots
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt and ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425° F. Place rack in center of oven.
Peel carrots if desired and trim green top, leaving about 1/2–inch. Cut larger carrots in half lengthwise and place in a rimmed baking sheet. Add shallots and thyme; drizzle with oil and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
Roast for about 30 to 35 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
Ahh, avocados. Next to mango, it’s my favorite fruit. Avocados are packed with nutrients! They’re a good source of vitamin K (36% DV), dietary fiber (29% DV), vitamin B6 (20% DV), vitamin C (19% DV) and copper (19% DV). Have you ever had avocado in a chilled soup? Up until a couple months ago, I hadn’t. The inspiration for this recipe came from last June’s Bon Appétit Magazine. The cucumber, dill and red onion add just the zest it needs – it would make an excellent addition to any gathering!
Ingredients needed for 8 servings (each about 2/3 cup):
- 1 can (12 fluid ounces) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Lowfat 2% Milk
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 large or 3 small ripe avocadoes, halved, pitted, peeled and diced (about 2 1/2 cups total)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sliced unpeeled cucumber
- 1/3 cup snipped fresh dill
- Diced cucumbers, finely chopped red onion and chopped fresh dill for garnish (optional)
Combine evaporated milk and vinegar in small bowl; let stand for 15 minutes.
Place avocadoes, water, evaporated milk mixture, 1 cup cucumber and 1/3 cup dill in blender; cover. Blend until smooth. Season with coarse salt and ground black pepper. Cover; refrigerate for 1 hour (can be made up to 4 hours in advance).
Pour soup into eight small bowls or glasses; garnish with cucumber, red onion and dill.
I can’t wait to share my recipes for Pesto Kale Chips and Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Salad with you in a future post. And my kids want to share their strawberry creations (freshly picked at our local farm). Having all this fresh produce really gets the creative juices flowing…
Have a beautiful day!
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