Flowers bloomin’, birds chirpin’ and the sun is finally shinin’! Bring on those fresh spring veggies! Crisp asparagus, sweet baby peas, and beautifully aromatic leeks. Not only are they abundantly tasty, they are also very versatile and easy to work with. So let’s dig in.
First up on the menu; glorious leeks. They are part of the Allium family which includes onions, garlic shallots, chives and scallions, which you might have guessed by their shape and color. They look very similar to a giant green onion, but in flavor they tend to be quite a bit milder than the other allium vegetables. While still tasting similar to onions, they don’t have the same pungent aroma and powerful bite that most others do, and they definitely won’t make you cry. A creamy leek and potato soup is a delicious, savory and satisfying dinner that is perfect when served with a loaf of warm crusty bread smeared with melting butter.
Because leeks grow underground they will require a bit more time to clean and prepare. Before cooking, you will want to use a sharp knife to cut off the tougher, dark green leaves from one end and the root from the other end. You’ll want to cook the white and light green parts of the vegetable. It’s generally easiest to slice the leek in half lengthwise and proceed to chop it much like you would an onion. Transfer the sliced leeks to a bowl of cold water and swirl them around to remove any remaining dirt or grit, or use a colander to rinse them several times. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and drain completely on a dry kitchen towel before throwing them into the pot.
Next up is a spring couscous salad that’s light, flavorful and refreshing. This simple salad is anything but ordinary. It’s loaded with fresh parsley, peas, and feta cheese, then dressed with a basil pesto vinaigrette for a bright flavor. It’s perfect as a side dish; or top it with baked white fish or sliced chicken and it becomes a full meal. Simple ingredients but a complex and fresh flavor.
Up next; an easy side dish bursting with flavor. Roasted asparagus and cherry tomatoes, sprinkled with melted parmesan cheese and a balsamic reduction drizzle. It looks and sounds fancy but its super simple and will make you look and feel like a master chef. Roasting the vegetables for this recipe really makes their flavors blossom. Make extra so you have leftovers for the next day. It also makes a great salad topper or mid-day snack. Or, cut it up and serve in the morning next to some scrambled eggs. They are so delicious, you will want them with every meal.
Enjoy, eat well and be well!
Potato and Leek Soup
Melt butter in a Dutch oven. Add the chopped leeks and onions. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until soft. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
Add potatoes, stock, salt, pepper, thyme and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
Remove the thyme sprigs, then transfer 2/3 of the soup to a blender and blend until smooth or use an immersion blender to partially blend the soup, leaving some chunks whole, depending on how much of the soup you like pureed. Return to pot and add the cream. Stir to combine and cook another 3-4 minutes. Serve hot.
Spring Couscous Salad
Place couscous in a large mixing bowl. Add peas, shallots and feta. In a separate bowl whisk oil, vinegar and pesto together. Add to the pea and couscous mixture and toss well. Garnish with some more crumbled feta.
Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes
Toss the asparagus and tomatoes in the oil, salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast in a preheated 425 degree oven until they start to caramelize, about 15-20 minutes, mixing half way through. Meanwhile, simmer the balsamic vinegar until it starts to thicken, about 10 minutes. Serve the asparagus and tomatoes warm. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and top with grated Parmesan.